Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Good Student

I did my radiography training at Crozer-Chester Medical Center 1980-82. As a first year student, every few weeks we were assigned to the burn unit where, every morning, we'd accompany one of the senior techs to do portable chest x-rays.
The machine was a monster to push through the halls, the cassettes were heavy, we had to prep by scrubbing in and donning gowns and gloves. It was a laborious process and I worried about getting everything right because it was much worse for our patient. During a really tough week, working with a no nonsense, very experienced tech who expected nothing but perfection, we came upon a badly burned younger patient who was in great pain. It was Friday, my last day on this rotation and the tech had barely spoken to me all week. We worked as quickly and carefully as possible but the ordeal was very difficult. We finished up and I pushed the cumbersome machine alone onto the elevator while she waited giving me a look of exasperation. Instead of pushing ground, where the department was located and where we needed to go and develop the films, she pushed another floor with which I wasn't familiar. As the door opened, she instructed me to leave the machine by the elevator and follow her. We walked through wide doors and ahead were long, glass windows.There I saw the newborn babies, clean and sparkling, swaddled in pink and blue, lined up behind the glass. She said nothing. I said nothing. We stood there a while, watching these perfect beings, still and quiet, dreaming of angels. Then she turned and we left. Back to our machine, the elevator, the darkroom. There was a lot she could have said to me that week but she only talked of kilovoltage and milliamperage. It is what she showed me that stuck with me all these years later.

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