March 9, 2011

He went to smoke and never came back

It is odd being in the emergency room. I always brace myself before I enter the room, because I never know what I'll find. Sometimes, I get some back story from a nurse or a police officer before I go in, sometimes I just get a name and room number.

Tonight, she has not decided if she wants to report her assault, so no Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner has been called in. There is usually one on, but she is sick tonight. The SANE's usually keep the door closed, but tonight it's open.

It's strange to hear the noises coming from the other open doors. Across the hall, there is a little kid, probably four or five, who can't stop barfing. It's sad. I hear whispered conversation from the person in the bed next to hers. Clips of conversations about a previous miscarriage, something about diabetes.

We always believe the assault survivors, no matter their story. I find that it's almost always easy not to doubt them. As soon as I see their faces, I find a moment in their shoes, and I want to take away their pain. I know it's impossible, so I do what I can.

The bedsheets on the wheeled gurneys in the ER never fit right. They look soft, like t-shirt fabric, but the edges always hang loose like extra skin on someone who lost a lot of weight. The white blankets always look so thin, and I wonder if she is warm enough.

I feel so secure, loved, and care for in my life and I can't imagine a life of being scared and abused always, from the moment you can remember.

Where is the call button? We've been waiting for someone, but we can't find the button. Eventually, I find it on the floor, hanging from it's cord on the wall. It must have gotten knocked down when she got her X-rays. After an hour, I leave to find someone and get information about what is next.

When I arrived, her "friend" was there with her. He told me he was going to have a cigarette and never came back.

There are children at home, and I try to imagine being raped and then having to find a babysitter.

*as always, my posts about my volunteer work are not specific to any date or situation, but composites of memories I have.


I had to make a difficult decision recently to take another break from my work as a volunteer advocate for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services. I love it, but right now I have two small kids at home not sleeping through the night, and my one night alone with my husband most weeks just got changed to Friday, which is when I've been doing my on call shifts. With our family life and our schedules, it's just too much right now. I'm sad to give it up because I love it, but my kids and my marriage have to come first. I'm staying on the list so I can volunteer at one off events and attend trainings, and hopefully participate in some of the events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. For now, I'll just have to look forward to the day when I can jump back in.


Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

You are right, your family comes first. I understand that you are torn, but this is the right decision. It is a highly emotional job and you need to be in the right headspace to give it your all.

Jene said...

I'm sure it was a hard conclusion to come to, and I hope you find peace with it soon. FWIW, my last year in college I did an internship at a home for sexually abused teen girls. My shift was from 2-10, twice a week. Those nights I would come home and just lie awake in bed all night, thankful for my pleasant life and sad for these poor girls. It was psychologically draining. Sometimes you just need to step away. I'm sure you'll be back again sometime soon!

texanmama said...

Oh my gosh, Rachael. What a powerful story. You should find somewhere to publish this. Really. It's an amazing story. I love all the imagery and the emotion it conveys. Amazing.

Life with Kaishon said...

This is just heartbreaking in every way. I am thankful you take the time to feel their pain and care for them. You are an excellent writer.