PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Chapter Eighteen

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Eighteen from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Chocolate! Penny inhaled the aroma. Before each shift she willed herself to resist temptation, but the goodies called her name and the longer she looked at them the less willpower she owned. Whitman’s chocolates, Christie’s Cookies, and popcorn in three flavors: it was as if the patients’ families, drug salesmen, and doctors conspired to make everyone gain weight in Jacksonville Oncology during the week of Thanksgiving.

Penny was responsible for three patients Thursday night and one of them was Maureen, who had been admitted that morning. As soon as Report was over, she hurried to Maureen’s room and stuck her head in the door. “How’s it going?”

“It would be better if I had some real coffee; the kitchen only puts nine grains per cup in the stuff they serve us patients.”

Returning with coffee from the nurses’ lounge, Penny asked, “Is there anything else you want me to grab before I put on the reverse isolation garb? Would you like another blanket? And please don’t say ‘whatever you think.’ Why do patients say that? I’m no mind reader; I can’t imagine a woman who doesn’t know if she wants a blanket!”

“Oh, she wants one, all right.” Maureen smiled. “She just thinks maybe you don’t want to go get it, and she doesn’t want to make you do it if you don’t want to. So go on, give her a blanket; say you’re putting it there in case she needs it.”

“Maureen, tell me everything that has happened. Please.”

“You know most of it from Report...but I’ll tell you anyway. I got through radiation and the first round of outpatient chemo just fine, but Dr. Benson stopped my treatments in the middle of the second round because my counts dropped so low. I can’t fight infection, so unless my bone marrow recovers and begins making white cells, he won’t order any more chemotherapy and the bad stuff will grow, but I haven’t given up, yet.”

“I know you, Maureen, you can do it. I’m going to give you two units of packed red cells tonight—and I may have come up with a solution for your Christmas shopping problem.” Penny deposited the sack of catalogs she had brought onto Maureen’s bed. “Maybe you can order presents!”

Penny’s second charge was an outpatient, admitted for serial treatments for a dog bite. When his antibiotic had infused she disconnected it, changed his dressing, and gave the news he had been waiting to hear, “You can go home now.”

Maureen’s first unit of blood was almost finished when Penny suited up again and stepped into her room for the hourly transfusion vital signs. “Everything okay?”

Maureen turned the lab-record sheet around so Penny could see where she had filled in the blanks. “I did them for you,” she said. “Look here, what do you think of these?” Maureen pointed to a picture of Tweety-Bird-yellow towels. “My daughter-in-law likes this color.”
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"Healthcare can be murder. "Personal Baggage" is a novel from Margaret McMillon discussing the current issues surrounding the modern healthcare..."

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