the hunt

Image
Purple and Green|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I hunt for
morning dew
dripping from the
purple pricked
by the greens.

I find it,
clip it to my chest
and wear it with
pride.

It was a good day.
I didn’t lose my
mind and
was no witness
to death.

Non-Fiction Saturdays

I Am No Legend

mixkit-view-of-a-night-sky-in-the-city-139-desktop-wallpaper
Art by Lauren Bending via Mixkit.co

I thought I would wake up to a ghost town–to people actually abiding by the suggestions of experts and personnel equipped to follow and track COVID-19, however, restrictions are being avoided and noses are pointed upwards at them in defiance as if to say, “This is my life. To hell with you people telling me what to do with it!” As of Friday, March 20, 2020, the state of North Carolina had 137 cases of COVID-19 and the numbers are steadily rising.

Heading out to work, the roads are still as busy as they have ever been, however, when I pull into my organization’s parking lot, there are fewer cars parked–fewer patients are keeping their appointments. We actually had several walk-in X-rays today and I thought to myself, “Why the hell are you guys even here? It’s not emergent. The back pain that you’ve had for years now can wait for two more weeks.” Then, I thought–“It’s calm now. The storm hasn’t hit. People are getting everything done before they actually aren’t able to do so for quite a long while.”

I understand the rebellion, but I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, if that makes sense. This is not something people can see, touch, or control–it hasn’t directly affected us with a vengeance yet, so most are testing it. Most want to know if it’s REALLY real. And I am over here silently screaming to myself, but also to these people, “JUST LOOK AT THE NUMBERS, PEOPLE! WE MUST DO WHAT WE CAN TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF THIS THING!” I imagine myself not being heard–a voiceless voice in the crowd, sheltered by disobedient adult-children who fear they will not get their way.


 

SyFy.com

Really, if I am honest, this reminds me a bit of I Am Legend. Of course, we don’t have the undead seeking out our blood, fearful of the light of day or ultraviolet rays, but we have a virus, a contagion, sweeping our nation in droves, and I think acting on the side of caution is wise. At this very moment, there are at least five people outside my building, huddled together, talking and laughing–having a good old time. I have my windows up for a good, night breeze, and I hear them. I wonder how many of them have even done what they have been advised to do. How many of them in their group are preparing for what could be the wildest thing we have ever experienced?

The dog and I cuddle together on my big chair like we do most nights. I turn to a good movie or read a book or we relax in the beauty of the essence of each other and we keep our distance from others. I walk her, speak to my neighbors in passing, and we come straight home. If I did not have to work, I would not leave my apartment, save for the duty of walking the Little Monster. I have my essentials. I have all that I need to survive for two-three weeks without having to go to the grocery store.

As much as I can, I am adhering to the advice and to the restrictions. Due to my job, as of today, I still have to work. We still have healthcare to provide. Our docket is not made up of only emergent cases as we have been advised to have, however, we have pared-down our schedule and many patients have canceled their appointments. I have to work tomorrow and it is a very short day. I will start my day there at the gig at 06:15 am and will prayerfully end it before 13:00 pm.

I have this feeling that when I get to work, not all sixteen patients who were on the docket before I left will be there. I have a feeling the number will be around nine patients. We shall see.

Be safe. Be careful. Abide by the restrictions implemented. Take care of yourselves, people. Peace.


 

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Non-fiction Saturdays

Grief

It Comes When You Don’t Want It

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova via Unsplash

When you’re shopping. When you’re on an important phone call. When you’re at your youngest child’s soccer game. When you’re cleaning up the house . . . It strikes without warning and all you can do is succumb to it. All you can do is let it grab you and swallow you whole and try to breathe in breaks, counting to ten, and allow yourself the chance to be overcome by a force much stronger than you. This is what happened to a patient I was registering for a particular scan on Wednesday, March 04, 2020. A certain phrase triggered her and she shook her head quickly, held up a hand to me as if to say, “Please, just give me a moment,” and then the tears flooded her face.

I respect life. I honor death. I give grief the space it needs. I directed her to the box of Kleenex to her left and advised her to “Please, take your time, ma’am.” She wiped her face, huffed out a regretful sigh, and began to explain to me that her husband died three weeks ago. It’s still fresh, you see. She isn’t used to the frequent interruptions that her heart issues to her because life is still trying to go on, however, she is feeling stuck.

She took the tissue and dabbed at her eyes. She talked while I listened. I went over her medical information, the purpose for her scan, verified her demographics, then gave her a little more time to be in that space. That space was comforting. It was necessary for the moment. And me — this stranger she met at an imaging center preparing her for what’s to come is now apart of her growth.

She apologized profusely and I looked at her with a clear intent to demonstrate that there was no need for an apology. I asked her if she needed more time before we pressed on and she told me that she was okay — we could continue. I finished the registration process, slipped a wristband on her left wrist, and directed her to the waiting room where she would be called for her scan. I asked her before saying goodbye if I could hug her. She nodded yes, and I lifted myself up from my chair, walked around to the patient lobby, and pulled her in for a long, tight hug.

The tears came quicker then, but this time, she did not apologize. I told her that I wished her well — I wanted peace to be something she could gain and soon. She thanked me and we ended our time together. I have never been married. I cannot tell you what it feels like to lose a spouse, but I have lost a grandmother, two-great-grandmothers, a grandfather, an aunt, a few cousins, and a couple of close friends. I know that this type of pain — this death pain comes and goes. It never truly ceases.

We cannot time it. We do not have a map for it. We cannot direct it. It comes when it wants and usually when you do not want it to. It sneaks up on you when all you want to do is find sweet rest, but you cannot and eerily enough, it’s almost like grief knows this. It’s as if it knows you want to move on, you want to be lifted up from the belly of the infected beast, but no matter what you do, you are pulled back into its sweaty grip.

The next few people I registered happened to be in line waiting while I interacted with this particular patient and each of them thanked me for what I did. It must have been the look on my face because I thought and I assumed, most would think this way too, that this is how we are to react when someone needs a moment — to give them the time to step back, lose it a bit, and come back to life. There’s still humanity, people — some of us are truly humane.

Grief does not wait for you to get it together. It does not care who is watching. It does not think about the life you have to live after your loved one dies and will never come back. It moves and shakes and hits you when you least expect it. I hugged a patient today. We embraced until she stopped crying and nothing else mattered to me at that moment. Nothing else could have pulled me from what I thought mattered most.

All that mattered is that she knew I cared and I had to show her — I did.


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

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Non-Fiction Saturdays

beneath

a haibun, 3 parts

Photo by Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

The wonders of the world lay deep beneath her hair. The very essence of what there is to gain from a stressful day full of anguish and the sounds of beasts rapping at closed doors is nothing. I tell her to press forward and find her strength in the pulse of a tiger’s breath, but she is not interested in climbing up the optimistic ladder tonight. I smell safety around the corner. She runs for cover. I stand with my hands held high — raised above my head. I surrender to the depth of this defeat. She claims my trust.

beneath her red locks
is a star-spangled blue moon
a wondrous new world

Broken babies and haunted Mamas wield their way into our midst. We shield ourselves from their pressure. The room is ice. There is no fire for warmth. I rub my hands together and watch the steam sift in through the cracks. She takes two steps forward, purses her lips against the air, and lets out a sigh of relief. The floor is empty. Patients are packing up — discharged by their residents or attendings. We dance alone. A tango. A foxtrot. A waltz. I simmer in the darkness with her.

lonely in this place
of impatience and patients
dancing the foxtrot

Big Pharma called the shots on the drug saving his life — it’s no longer covered. He’s in room 213 of the ICU. Death is standing by his door. She pulls a mask on to her face, laces her hands with gloves, and walks in to oversee the cleanliness of his space. He is barely breathing. The sun skips on the open blinds — his hair never touches the pillow. There, in the silence of the room, she prays to a God who walks the halls but forgets to open the doors.

on-call patient care
fills up her nightly duties
death is still coming


Author’s Note: I wrote this piece as a reflection on the most recent book I read which was In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Adwish, MD. If you’ve not given it a read and you’re interested in knowing what a physician has to say about being the patient who dies, is brought back to life, and lives to see just how medicine needs transforming — this is a book I’d recommend for you. Peace.

*Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

Death Still Comes

Silvestri Matteo|Unsplash

For: Toni Morrison

I don’t think there’s a word
for what I’m feeling. 
when you write and you’re black
and a woman and you lose
another beam of light that
gave you hope and taught you through
words how to bust out of
your skin:
no excuses, no looking back, no pulling
away from your core 
you fade . . .

bits of you break off,
float into the air, 
and paint the sky with sadness. 
I want to be able to
say how moved, enriched, and
motivated I was as someone who
followed her words. 
I don’t know how to do that
knowing that death still comes
even when you feel you
have so much more to learn. 
you have so much more to witness.

but the day ends after twenty-four hours
and a new one begins. 
that’s the constant of life. 
I will remember bluest eyes, 
beloved memories, Sula’s hips, 
passion-filled dreams, a home
away from home, and how to
love. 
I will remember
the gifts laid before me,
one million times ten — words
that blend in with my skin
and kiss the world.

I will remember
why I picked up 
a pen.


©2019 Tremaine L. Loadholt. All Rights Reserved/Originally published on Medium