The ghosts that we knew

The hospital is full of ghosts to me. I don’t remember all their names but I’m haunted by the faces of the patients who are no longer with us. Sometimes they’re in the background, watching; other times I walk round the corner and my breath is taken away, just for a moment. I’ve been nursing for 10 years and have undoubtedly helped countless patients but they’re not the ones that stay with me, haunt me, occasionally keep me awake at night.

That patient who died from neutropenic sepsis days after I had given her chemo.

That girl my age who deteriorated in front of my eyes, her eyes silently pleaded for help but we couldn’t save her.

Those curtains I went though the first time I did the last offices at 18 years old, terrified.

That chair where I first met the man my husband’s age just after his cancer diagnosis; and the bed where I saw him for the last time.

That cardiac arrest on Christmas Day.

I carry them all with me.

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