COOL RAY’S BRONC SUITE MIX
She just showed up with it one day
the patient I cannot name here.
She had been one of those few patients
that I’d allowed myself to get too close to
guess that we had come to know each other
over the several years it took
to get two, t-w-o, double lung transplants
such a vivacious twenty-something
progeny of excellently smart parents
that somehow had given her the cystic fibrosis DNA
the stupid rare gene that kills some folk faster than others.
We’d likely done eight or nine bronchoscopies
The usual protocols, monitoring for what we were monitoring for.
I always tailored the music in the suite to the patient
and her broncs had become a contest of a sort.
She’d try to ask for something i didn’t have over there
in the collection only on CD’s in the player,
this was pre-Pandora, or Apple music, or anything like that.
She’d giggle when I couldn’t produce it
settle for something like what she’d asked for.
Wheeling her up to the suite from Out Patient Surgery
she’d taken a CD case out from under the hospital gown
“take this you old Respiratory Therapist Hippie Man”
She’d kidded again, she was like that.
“You gotta play this when I come”
it had some greats on it, James Brown, Nine Inch Nails
just to name a few -her fav’s.
The affinity we enjoyed had progressed from a sterile smelling procedure lab
trust abounding to take appropriate care
She would look up at me
as I handed the prepared sleepy-time meds
calling them the “I don’t care, and I don’t remember meds”
and say those words with me in unison
as if to a four-four time signature along with the tune that was on.
She’d enjoyed eight more years of prolonged life
from her two transplants.
her deadly Cystic Fibrosis was aggressive,
and the second set of lungs
were to play in the same minor key as the first.
at her age in her late twenties.
I was in the room when she told her parents
no more surgeries. Couldn’t do it again
a combo of couldn’t and wouldn’t.
I just happened to be there having come by to check on her
heard she had be re-admitted and was very sick
lungs full of mucousy shit that had her at death’s door again
that is the way of pulmonary Cystic Fibrosis
(It is relentless even with the best care)
when her parents came in and she chose to surprise all of us
with her announcement.
Such moments are beyond tender
beyond intimacy, and well into anguish
I shook her Dad’s hand, clear that it was time to leave the hospital room
her Mom followed me out into the hall
“Did you know she had made this decision?”
shaking my head “NO”,
i tried to be professional while wiping my left eye’s tear
Mom said “we have been dreading the need for this conversation,”
and, “we knew it was coming.”
I did my best to console her
out there in the hall, and she just asked me
to leave her time to be alone with her thoughts,
and then Dad appeared from the room
leaving the door to it open
her Mom leaned against the hall wall, crying
looking at Dad, I touched her shoulder, and walked away.
c Ray Whitaker, 09/22
Aww Mr. Whitaker, this is so sad. But how nice it is that you were able to prolong her life, while also treating her with so much love and kindness. <3 Lauren
Thank You Lauren for commenting and reading. it is very nterestingtghat the further out I am from being a person as a Respiratory Therapist, the more pungent memories are showing up. my above piece was actually true, with of course the names changed and dates/other references change to protect privacy.
I think that is sometimes how trauma works. The further away from it you get, sometimes the more in creeps up on you. Keep expressing yourself. Keep healing. We will be here to support you a long the way.
After reading this I understood that the therapist tried to console the patient’s mother and gave her space to grieve. This is counts as an amazing reminder of the importance and giving others to room to understand and to be alone with their thoughts