Laws were enacted, long before my interest in suits, ties and case briefs. My first run in, came when the forms were placed in front of my sister.
The law was new then, and compliance was paramount. Everyone had to be on board; hospital stay was a familiar term, and information systems management was something I learned at a young age, making my way between floors. You could lift the panels and see the spaghetti wiring of every terminal connection.
“You can look, but don’t touch”
Familiar euphemism for ‘this is life & death’
My curious mind wonders as I wander in and out of the halls, why are you here today?
Past, present, and future colliding.
What is this infection, this birth, this disease, this death, this sickness, this pain? What is it this time? What drug, what detox, what surgery will walk through those doors? Is it elective or emergency? Is it scheduled, do we have the staff available? Who’s scrubbing in?
Nurses swirl by; another code blue. They’re crashing, and the staff rush through. They gather, in harmonious sync; a perfectly orchestrated event horizon. They save one, after another, after another – endless streams pour in daily.
Always something. Always there. Never a dull moment.
As a child, I would craft things using the ‘nurse tape’
Nothing is perfect.
Loud tone alarming, pager sounds overhead;
Code silver in the west wing.
Shit. He says, grabbing his stethoscope, I swore I’d never work in hospitals. Look at me now. Patching up patients and shitting myself as I wipe asses.
I watch, as guardian overseeing – behind the scenes and on the front line.
I see everything unfolding. Birth, death, diagnosis. Fear, loathing, shame. Stale coffee and half-eaten doughnuts. Family, friends, and those with no one – isolation is a killer for sure. We chart progress, but what does that mean?
It never stops.
When diagnosed, finally; a label – a warning, a context to place inside all of the pain, poison, tears, and heartfelt well wishes. A teddy bear from the gift shop downstairs. Get well soon it grins as you bear it.
It doesn’t stop the bills from rolling in. Nor does it exempt you from the experience of the pain.
The law doesn’t prescribe, it directs.
Like a blank signpost in all directions.