Way to Start with Guilt
By: Raymond “Ube” Umpa
It was the first day of our duty----and again, we were directed to the ward. As we stepped into the nurse station, there came a strapping symphony of “lub-dub-lub-dub” reverberating around the corners; penetrating through the walls and occupying our anxious and disturbed emotional and mental consciousness. Then, there was SILENCE! After a fraction of a second, I felt that the carbon dioxide level of my body had outweighed the oxygen saturation within my system. So, I took a deep breath, recollecting what I’ve learned in the fundamentals of nursing and as what I’ve always enumerated in my health teachings to my patients. Indeed, I was relieved of respiratory distress, but not for too long. While I was busy listening and writing the endorsement, I sighted someone a bit captivating with my peripheral vision. It fueled my curiosity to the extent that it had overflowed. So, I had to turn and look as to whoever that person was. I was surprised with the automatic effect of his sight to my being. We had a fleeting moment of having each other’s gaze; yet with that transient and very short eye-to-eye connection, I felt a sudden alteration in my body’s mechanisms--- moments after, I was on the verge of having hypoxia. Good thing that he entered the room that soon, because, if it took him a minute longer, I could have fainted. To add more damage, my pupillary size would have been fully dilated just to accommodate the totality of his commanding and exceptional presence. His charisma was so destructing, yet so magnetic. But, come again? Did I just say he entered the room? Oh yes! That time, my heart jumped a mile while I watched him entering the room of the same ward that I’m into. In my mind, countless thoughts were playing. Instantly, I was preoccupied with the things that I should do to befriend him. To heck with whatever actions that must be done in order for me to emerge triumphant of my silly plans. My god, I was really desperate and so engrossed with my self-centered goal. Nevertheless, I was not sure as to how to actualize it. Knowing my introvert and reserved personality, it would take tons of effort for me to come out of the open and shine for him--- without turning stupid. Then, I felt a resounding “pssst” on my left ear--- I’m on the world again. I almost forgot, we were still on the middle of the endorsement. But, again fate was on my side, because all that I’ve mentioned happened while the nurses were busy chatting in-between the endorsement (Well, they always do that.).
To add up with my luck, I was assigned to the room where that gorgeous guy had entered. I did not know how to react. It was a mixture of excitement, exceeding joy and nerve-wracking episodes. My heart began to palpitate. I can sense it becoming stronger and stronger as we get closer to my room assignment. I could feel that the sudden rush of fortune on my shoulders was so immense that I was caught off-guard. I was like the calm and relaxing sea
Finally, we were leading towards my assigned room number. I took a deep breath and prayed to God that He will guide me all the way. Then, my hand grasped the doorknob, turned it clockwise to open and breathed once more before I took a single step forward. Before I knew it, I was already standing in front of that stunning hunk I’ve been daydreaming of earlier. To add again with the package, there was also another guy on the scene, as handsome and as tall as him. Yet, this guy has a lighter complexion. When, I looked into their eyes, I felt the same vibrancies and spirit. Then on, I knew they were brothers. True enough, we found out later that the lighter guy is the elder brother of my dream guy. But, ooh! I almost forgot my real purpose for our “nursing round” and my duty. I have a patient to take good care of. And that patient of mine just happened to be the mother of my crush-turned-crushes. Ill as she appeared to be, yet she had witnessed how I became accustomed to the eyes of her two handsome sons while I was unmindful of her staring at me. Looking at my patient, I can sense her fragile and vulnerable condition. She was obviously weak yet, I can feel in her eyes the enthusiasm and courage to live more each day. I stood in front of her, while she was sitting on her bed and as her two handsome watchers and other relatives were looking at me. My god, I felt like an ice cream in cone exposed under the sweltering heat of the sun. Then, I introduced myself to her. As far as I can remember, I knew I have tried so hard to remain calm under the intense uneasiness I was feeling that time. When I was talking and doing my thing to my patient, I did not stare to anyone else in the room except her. I cannot look to those guys anymore since I know that they already had a feeling that I had a crush on them. I was really conscious in every move that I made. I felt that I was drowning in an ocean of critical eyes just waiting for the perfect moment to eat me alive. If only I can disappear in a snap of my fingers so I could escape that trap of embarrassment, I would do it without hesitation. While, I was regulating her IV, my mind was busy processing as to how on earth I could excuse myself that soon, without being boorish. Finally, I got the nerve to say I would be back in a while to get her vital signs. At last, I was out of the death row. My group mates flocked in front of me, so thrilled to know the latest buzz on my escapade. They’re just clueless as to how humiliating it was for me, until I sobbed in front of them. I didn’t know why the hell I cried in their presence; just outside the room and adjacent the nurse station. What a perfect setting to accentuate my mortification. While I recalled as to how pathetic I became and how I made a fool out of myself, the drizzling teardrops on my eyes became a torrent of bitter tears. I never gained the strength to go at my patient’s room alone. I asked for some of my group mates to go with me in taking the vital signs, and later on, I totally gave my responsibility over my patient on their shoulders. Then, I learned from them that my patient was looking for me. I was touched yet guilty that I can’t give my care to her just because of my timidity. Moments after, one of my crushes (the older one) also looked for me. I was standing near the room, thinking if I should enter and trying to gain enough courage to do it, when he called me to come closer. I did not ask for a sign but it unveiled to me that swiftly. Of course, I had a bit of hesitation, yet I would be so rude to decline his request--- so I submitted myself to his summon. I was surprised when he offered his hand and introduced himself to me. His hand was so soft and manly that I didn’t want to let go of it. Then, as if he had read my mind, he placed his other hand over mine. That time, his two hands squeezed in my right hand. Right away, I felt my hair starting to grow like that of Rapunzel’s. He was so kind, so welcoming, yet I was so intimidated by his presence. Obviously, the problem was with me. Luck was really on my side, yet I was consciously pushing it away as if I had a million dollars to spend and so much love to take. It was my first time to be in such situation. Maybe, it’s what they say, “beginner’s luck.” Bad thing, that I wasted such once in a lifetime gift of fate. Moreover, to say the worse, the care that I should be giving to my patient that time was compromised. I went home that night with so much regret in my heart. If only, if only, if only --- I resorted for an unending chant of “if only” as I walked out of the hospital and left my patient without saying a word of goodbye “for now” nor sorry that I wasn’t able to look on her needs. I know I could have done better --- If only…
A day after I was shocked to know that just 2 hours ago, my patient had died of cancer. It was five o’clock, then. I didn’t expect not even in my wildest thoughts that my missed “goodbye for now” gesture to my patient the other night will be a gesture of “good bye forever” on the next day. Without hesitation, I, together with one of my group mate went directly to the hospital to give our heartfelt condolence to the family.
My guilt began to haunt me. It was even added when out of my aloofness the other night, the son of my patient still offered his hands and said “thank you” for the care that I gave to his mother. I looked into his eyes and saw the same beauty and depth; only that time, sadness was flooding on the surface.
Kindness can really kill, just like guilt can haunt and hunt you down. I believe there is justice in this world, because now, I am paying the price of being unjust. ®