At age twenty one, Caroline Knapp weighed less than eighty-three pounds. An Ivy League graduate, an aspiring journalist, and the child of an intact family, she adhered to an identical daily menu for three years; a sesame bagel, a coffee-flavored yogurt, an apple, and a one-inch cube of cheese.
The nurse experiences loss in working with the dying and their families. Grief is the emotional response to these losses and needs to be expressed in order to facilitate adaptive coping. The nurse may experience feelings of anxiety and grief as well as cumulative loss when he or she is unable to cope effectively with each loss. Ineffective coping mechanisms may include avoidance and emotional distance.
When someone in my home gets sick I begin a mental game. I look at all the facts, then convince myself whatever is wrong is nothing. Once I've made that conclusion, something at the back of my brain begins to tickle until it pushes out the worst case scenario it can come up with and starts hammering me with doubts and questions.
Of course it bothered me that we were embarking on a busy clinic day without the "spirits" in which to soak the torn strips of fake-snow cotton that we keep in a screw-top plastic jar and use as alcohol wipes. But the nurse I would be working with in the Voluntary HIV Testing room assured me that we would collect a bottle of the bright purple disinfectant from the dispensary first thing the following morning.
Back home in New Haven, the nurses at my old clinic bonded over oversized cups of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and a box of assorted, trans-fatted baked goods. On my last day of work, my usual was waiting for me on my emptied desk, a small regular with cream and real sugar and a corn muffin.
In This Issue
Liz Di Bernardo