This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Thirteen from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Barb munched a nacho and shoved the plate toward her. “Every bed! Day shift’s flitting around too fast to give Report.” Fetching a cup of coffee, she placed it in front of Penny. “Drink up! We won’t be stopping to eat again anytime soon.”
The Evening Unit Secretary, Maria, leaned against the door frame. “I tried to get us some help, but they said I was wasting my breath. There’s no help to be had.”
“Screw ‘em,” Barb told Penny. “Let’s divvy up between us. We don’t have a rat’s chance of getting help. I’ll take the new admission and the people I had last night, okay?” Barb unplugged the pot and distributed the remaining coffee into their cups. “I had Watt Weeks—have you heard about his friend, Prader Philpot?”
“I talked to him on the phone last week,” Penny said. “I understand he’s a nut.”
“Prader’s like...like he should be wearing an electronic monitoring device! He’s a super-heavy drinker, but he totally loves Watt’s eleven-year-old grandson!”
“And Watt? How’s he doing?”
He’s had all the radiation he can take, and Dr. Benson’s maxed him out on chemo. So now we’re trying to support him through nadir, right? The plan is to relieve his pain and keep him free from infection until his bone marrow can recover and make new cells, and then send him home in remission.”
Penny took a minute to digest this information. “You know, Barb, until I took the chemo class I didn’t know that nadir is when chemotherapy has killed so many white blood cells that there aren’t enough healthy cells left to fight infection. I thought nadir had something to do with astronomy.”
“Congrats on getting certified!” Barb said.
“Thanks, but I’m not convinced it’s an honor to be authorized to infuse potent chemicals; there’s such small leeway between giving enough to kill the cancer cells and giving so much that you kill the bone marrow, it terrifies me!”
“You’ll do fine; we double check the doctors’ orders and check again when pharmacy sends the drug to make sure it’s right.... But I was going to tell you about Watt—he owns an antique store and his grandson, Bud, is a total corker! Watt’s a sweetheart, but he cares more about Prader Philpot than he does about himself. He’s absolutely determined to get better so he can go back to work and support his nutty old buddy, who saved his life when they were in the Army.”
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