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Distracting David by E.M. Shue

The pain overwhelms my body. Not physical, but emotional pain. This is the second child we’ve lost in six weeks. I don’t know what I can do. Do I go to the administration and file a complaint? Do I ignore the fact that he’s incompetent and children are dying? I’m just a resident.

A nobody.

But I know the surgeon is taking risks he shouldn’t. He’s gambling with the lives of young children. I just don’t know what I can do, and I’m tired of being the one who has to talk to the parents. The one who has to tell them their precious loved ones are never coming back. This time the mother fell to her knees and sobbed. I know if I had a child, it would be like losing myself. I’d grown fond of this little boy while on my rounds. He shouldn’t be dead right now. Yes, he had a heart condition, but it could have been regulated with medication, not surgery.

It's true that heart conditions in children could kill them, but not like this. Not when a surgeon isn’t qualified or in the right state of mind for this precise of a surgery. Not when his hands tremble because he’s on drugs. This recent death was murder as far as I’m concerned.

I wander through the hospital unaware of which floor I’m on. Not caring about what’s going on around me. I’m numb to everything but the pain. The loss. Why do I do this? It hits me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to be like my mother anymore. I want a life. I want a family. A husband. Children of my own.

“Rachel.” I keep moving, ignoring my name being called, afraid it’s someone wanting me to discuss the case more. “Rachel, stop.” I can’t stop. If I stop, the pain will bleed out through my emotions. Someone grabs my arm, and I slowly turn. I look at the person in front of me, not really seeing them. My eyes glass over as the pain starts to come out.

“Rach, are you okay?” Hearing Emily use my nickname breaks through the fog of turmoil.

She grips my arm again and pulls me into an empty patient room. She doesn’t say anything but pulls me into her arms. The sob I’ve been holding in rips from my chest. I feel like I’m dying inside. I cry for what feels like forever. Tears roll down my face as my body shakes, and Emily just continues to hold me. The vibrating of my phone causes me to pull back. I retrieve it from my pocket and see his name on the display. I don’t want to answer, but he’s my superior. I could not only be written up but penalized if I ignore him.

Dr. Vacentti: Where are you? We’re starting rounds in 30 minutes. The parents of boy 9 are still in the lobby. Why?

He can’t even call him by his name.





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