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Her white uniform. Black shoes. And the required name plate reading – Junior Intern (JI). It’s the usual start of her day. Getting ready. Preparing for the day ahead.

Good morning – a greeting thrown in each and every person she sees. Guards. Co-JIs. Patients. Folks. Nurses. The whole hospital team. Thereafter, she knows she’s almost half ready to welcome the hustles and bustles waiting for her. Always with a smile put on – to shield her thoughts of another tiring day – an armor, a defense, nearly perfected to conceal her emotions. Excitement. Nervousness. Anxiety. Its 7:30 AM. It’s her cue.

Bedside rounds. Questions fired but left unanswered – disappointed. Patients to accompany. Laboratory results that are hard to interpret.  And the never ending ward calls.

She’s tired. With only a quarter of the day done. Her patience tested and gradually diminishing. Her smile waning but still carrying on. Wishing for a 15-minute break. Wondering for a moment – for everything to come to a halt.

Suddenly, she is called by the nurse-on-duty. One of her intubated patients is arresting. She runs to her patient’s bed.

She knows this patient – she is an old maid living with her nephew. She started CPR. First dose of epinephrine (epi) given. CPR continued. Another dose of epi. Patient’s folks were already crying. CPR – her patient is not responding. Her heart is beating hard – in the recesses of her mind she is talking to her: “Don’t give up on me now.” Third dose of epi. Still, no sign of life.

She asked the nurse to replace her and decided to appraise the family. The patient’s nephew was not around. She talked to the wife who told her that he is on his way. He is a pastor. She was also told that they already prayed over the situation days before. They already asked for guidance.  The wife only asked her for one single favor – to continue to revive the aunt until her husband arrived. They wanted to bid her farewell with their last prayers.

Fourth epi. She asked one of her co-JIs to lend a hand. They alternated performing CPR. The nurse provided the 5th dose. She thought she was ready to lose her. Sixth. Her mind is repeating words: “Get back, get back. Please.” Seventh epi.

The nephew arrived. A brave soul. Prayers were started. Eight epi. He took hold of the JI’s hand and looked her in the eye: “It’s alright. Thank you.”

She backed away. She felt defeated. She touched the shoulder of the nephew and his wife: “I’m sorry.” She was about to turn her back when the wife took a step forward: “Thank you. I know you all did your best. She is happy now. Thank you very much.”

Coming towards her with outstretched arms, she knew: “Please don’t…” She stammered. She was given the embrace of life. Her eyes welled. She embraced back and walked away. Tears now pouring down her face. She was humbled.

Mutya and Karen were medical students in their final year upon submission of this article. They are now post-graduate interns in the same hospital.

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