There used to be fabulous shows about angles. The basic premise was that there are case worker angles that receive assignments and then must find a way to help a person with a particular struggle.
There was a 4 week period of time that I think my life was an episode. I, of course, did not realize it until the situation was over.
The experience was an internship at a hospital far from home. The facility was nice enough to put me up in an old nurses’ dorm that was on site. No TV, no phones. There were 3 osteopathic doctor residents there. The 2 that were living there full time had private bathrooms. At least my community bathroom did not have a community shower. On the weekends, I would drive to the next town to use the laundry mat. I backed into a work van parked at a convenient store one day and am still waiting to hear if they want me to pay for their bumper.
The hospital had a small library on site but I was only allowed in during certain daytime hours because I was not a DO or MD student. In order to complete my in-service assignment, my mom had to mail research to me. The department secretary snuck me into the hospital lab after hours one night so I could use their old typewriter. The ribbon ran out when I had a page or two left to type. I felt really bad leaving the ribbon empty but could not find the replacement. The next day I told my instructor that I needed an hour to run to the library to finish my work. His response? “Well, didn’t we wait until the last minute?” My mouth opened, but thank goodness my filters still worked back then or I would never have graduated.
My instructor decided that my first independent treatment should be with a traumatized pediatric patient with his parents and the whole department staring at me….”because kids are easy to treat.” After that disaster, he never asked or told me to go see a patient. It was always this is “our” patient, “our” schedule. I really did not even notice that until much later. I already knew he did not trust me with the patients. And what did I know anyway? I was just a student and I had never worked in a setting like that.
On my last day, we sat down to go over my review. He was”disappointed” that I had not taken on my own patients and that I should have developed my own schedule by then. The rest of the day I saw every patient on the schedule without stopping to even see where he was. The last blow from him was when he told me to go ahead and leave. I let him know that I had promised the pediatric patient and his parents that I would come around for an extra treatment in the afternoon because they had requested it. My instructor just dismissed it and said goodbye.
At that point I was so disgusted with the whole thing I just left.
One perk that the hospital gave, even to non-MD/DO students, was 2 free meals a day at the cafeteria. I had planned my last day so that I could go get some dinner before starting the long drive. Almost every night, if not every night, I had the same cashier. From what I can remember, she was young, had long, red hair and a very kind face. She always had a smile and we would exchange pleasantries but nothing more really. She did know it was my last night there. After I sat down with my tray, she came up to me with a bag in her hand. She had bought some gifts from the the hospital shop. One was a little sachet with an angel pin on it that I could wear. There other was a gold necklace with a cross.
I was so surprised! I hardly knew this person and here she was giving me such beautiful and kind gifts. Not to mention, that of all the people I ran into in that hospital, she likely had one of the lower salaries. Gift shops are not cheap. As I was picking my jaw up off the ground and trying to figure out how to say thank you, I looked at her name tag to make sure that I could remember her name. Now, I am beyond horrible with names. I am often caught not knowing people’s names when I very well should. The part that struck me was that when I looked at her name tag, it took a great deal of effort not to say, “that is not your name, that does not look right. I know you, but not by that name.” I have never had that impulse with anyone else. Just her, the lead case worker angel.
I finished dinner and headed to my car. I got in, checked the directions, and headed off. My mind began to replay the 4 weeks. When I had first arrived, in the early darkness of the evening, I was disoriented in my new surroundings and the first person I came across was a security guard. He also had a very kind face and welcoming smile. He escorted me to where I needed to be and made sure that I knew where the dorms were and how to get there. During my stay, I would occasionally pass by him and he would say hello and ask how I was doing. It does not sound like a lot, but there were not a lot of smiles and pleasantries directed my way those 4 weeks. Just angel one and angel two and the secretary makes three.
As I drove away my thoughts and emotions exploded. How could I not have realized how awful the internship was until it was over? How could I not have realized there were angels helping me through?
So, no matter your definition of “angel”, I believe I was so very lucky to have met three who helped me through a very stressful 4 weeks.
Have you ever met an angel?