Monday, May 31, 2010


It was Labor day, so I made a point to ask the couple in room 587 if they were veterans.  "Oh yes, he's the veteran",  the patient wife exclaimed. "Yep", he agreed.  "From summer of '41 to fall of '44 I was on a boat in the South Pacific."

For the next few minutes I asked questions and got bits and pieces about his drafting and travels, the letters they wrote back and forth, and the friends that were made during these hard years.  "But you know what I remember most?" Mr. Veteran asked me.  "On the boat trip home, they ran out of food.  For three weeks we had oatmeal for breakfast and soup for dinner, EVERY DAY."  This cracked  up his wife of sixty-six years.  "It ruined him", she laughed.  "He still won't eat oatmeal."

So sixty nine years ago, Mr. Veteran became a military man, traveled the world, fought a war, sailed the seas, and missed his sweetheart, but what he remembers most is bad oatmeal.  Our memories are peculiar.

I thought about this yesterday while we were training in the summer interns and next year's residents.  Trying to sum up a year's worth of our CPE experiences we ended up telling them about our most terrifying on calls, bloodiest traumas and how often our supervisor made us cry.  Their wide eyed expressions alerted us that we hadn't adequately conveyed the depth and value of this program.  But how do you sum up a whole year of intense ministry and personal growth? How can anticdotes   transmit the experiences, learning and bonding that have happened?  It is easier to just share little, seemingly insignificant memories that pop into your head.  I now totally get the "oatmeal was horrible" remark.

My head is full of little memories from the last year:
Laughing at Nathan, Cathie and Vicki's stories of woe and mirth after a night on call. 
The breakfast lady who hands me a hard boiled egg as soon as she sees me in the morning.
The lunch lady who greets me with "Well, here is the vegeTARian" as soon as she see me at lunch.
How triumphant I feel at 8:31am when I realized I survived another night on call.
Robin enduring phrases that have become a part of all of our vocabulary. "My sense is...."
Lizzie's warm smile.
Carson's teasing and dry humor.
Jerry's response to the pager - "OK, time to spring into action"
The smell of fresh air after being in the hospital for 30 hours straight.
How hot the trauma bay is.
The sick feeling I get when the pager wakes me up in the middle of the night.
My pride in learning my unit staff's names.
NICU's soapy scrub brushes. I love the smell and the fresh feeling after a day of disinfecting lotion.
Our great names for things around here. The Magic Staircase, The Gross Door Knob, The Suicide Staircase, The Murder Mart, The Slippery Slope, The Hood, etc.
Marveling in the weekly re-re-re-repaving of I26 with Nathan.
The beautiful Oncology fountain and reading nook.
How quiet the halls of 4 south are, outside the on-call room.

Just a few of my oatmeal memories for the day.

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. Isaiah 46:9


  1. I love it! thanks for the memories listed here. as I read them a smile slowly crept across my face without my noticing, and before long I was giggling like a little girl. good post.


  2. memories you won't forget because you have chronicled them, smart lady!! I know the quietness of your on call hall-because I visited it on a weekend! M6

  3. congratulations, Erin, on a doing 5-years worth of good and hard and amazing in one year.

  4. wonderful post - wonderful memories - so glad you blogged these!

  5. What an amazing year you've had! So proud of you, Erin!!! Barbara