Monday, August 25, 2008

Tucked in

As a resident running the family practice ward, I would come up to the unit in the evening to finish dictations and complete paperwork. At the end of the evening, I'd ask the nurse if there were any patients she was concerned about or orders she wanted written. Having tied up all the loose ends, I'd head to the call room.
I distinctly remember how I felt walking down the corridor at eleven at night. The ward was hushed and still, with the patients' lights off and just one or two staff at the nursing station. Heading back to the elevator, past rooms of four beds apiece with patients curled up under blue cotton blankets, I felt maternal. Or how I imagined maternal would feel, as I hadn't had a child yet.
It was a powerful emotion, a combination of affection and respect for my charges, the satisfaction of having managed the day's problems, the weight of responsibility, and humility and gratefulness for my own position.
These days, as I round on my own children every night before bed, the flood of feeling as I adjust the covers over small sleeping bodies is remarkably similar.
And I realize now that those late nights walking down the corridor of 7B, the sense was of having tucked the kids in for the night.

2 comments:

  1. What a lovely picture of a sleeping child, and it tells the same story as you have written.

    Aaaaah, I think I have come over all maternal (though a bit late, even for grand maternal.......)

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  2. The term "tucked in" is used so often for inpatients by male and female residents alike.

    They're tucked in.
    Did you tuck them in?
    (sometimes less as a maternal implication than a - do they have all necessary orders so YOU can go to sleep for a few hours without being paged?)

    I think I felt similarly as you. And maternally, as well, for my interns and students when I was a resident. A male co-resident and I who shared the responsibility of running a difficult July service with brand new interns used to call them "the kids," even though we were only ahead of them by a year.

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