PERSONAL BAGGAGE
A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Chapter Sixteen

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Sixteen from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Depleted by her trip to Roanoke, the revelation of Maureen’s prognosis, and two busy twelve-hour night shifts, Penny had considered calling in sick to the Jacksonville hospital on Thursday night. Driving home Friday morning, she wished she had done it.

Instead, she had left for Jacksonville early, contributed a pot of shamrocks to the floral display on Maureen’s windowsill, and spent thirty minutes with her before clocking in. At bedtime, she revisited Maureen’s room to bid her goodnight. After that it was hard: Delores Allison’s family arrived, Barb unloaded, and Penny encountered Mrs. Digby.

During Mrs. Allison’s previous admission, she had asked Dr. Benson to stop her cancer treatment and to discharge her with hospice care, but after two weeks at home, her husband brought her back to the hospital to ensure her death would be pain free. Around 4 a.m., the whole Allison clan gathered: twenty-seven men, women, and children at her bedside and spilling out into the hall.

Because Barb had left the floor for more than an hour on a trip to the lab for a unit of blood, Penny had to answer all the patients’ lights, the Allisons’ questions, and keep everyone supplied with coffee. She was refilling the pot when Barb finally returned and crumpled into a chair, looking like a doll slung against a playhouse.

“Sorry it took so long. I stopped off in ER.”

“There must be a good-looking male nurse down there,” Penny teased.

Barb nodded. “He wants me to transfer down and work ER—they have a job opening—-but I don’t belong there, Penny...I don’t belong here! I’m a New England surgery nurse, you know? I was on the transplant team!”

“You said you liked that kind of nursing better than this. Why did you come here?”

“So my husband could finish his doctorate in sociology— he’s doing his thesis on some slant to race relations. What time he isn’t working on his research or teaching–-which is most of the time—he works in a doughnut shop making, like, minimum wage, which doesn’t even dent the thousands we borrowed, you know? He’s only at home when I’m gone.

Penny had met Barb’s children: three-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. “Your children are too young for school. How do you sleep when your husband’s at work?”

“They go to nursery school on days when I sleep; I pick them up in the afternoon and do everything before I come here. It’s like all the man thinks about is finishing his thesis. I can’t raise my children, and that kind of stuff, down here, totally alone. We need to go back to the mountains where our families are!”
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"Margaret McMillion's PERSONAL BAGGAGE is a very entertaining story of professional life within a corrupt medical community, and the toll..."

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