6:05. Only 25 more minutes and the day would be over. As a third-year resident in the Montgomery Hospital Residency Program, Molly’s life seemed a whirl of eating, seeing patients at the hospital, and occasionally sleeping in the tiny apartment that she shared with three other doctors. The hours were long, and the emotional toll that the program had taken on the Doctors had driven one-third of the participants out of the program.
The day had started like any other. Molly was assigned to the Pediatric floor this rotation. Most days were pretty un-eventful. Except for the occasional spoiled child whose parents catered to their every whim, the children were kind, well-behaved and a joy to visit. Most diagnosis were pretty similar; upper respiratory infection that couldn’t be managed at home. A few breathing treatments and the kids were discharged with a set of instructions for home management. Most kids, that is, except for the frail little girl in room 309. Doctors had conferred, x-rays had been done, and still it was unclear what was causing such diminished breathing.
Molly poked her head in the door. Little Emilee was sitting with her hair in pigtails and a smile full of crooked teeth. She was coloring a picture as she sang along with “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” for the 7th time this week.
“Hello Emilee. You seem to be full of sunshine today.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Emilee. “If you look really close to the top of that tree, you can see a beautiful cardinal adding twigs to her nest. I have been watching her for a while, and her babies are soo cute.” Her last words were muffled by a torrent of coughs that wracked her body, and defined her ribcage even more. Her breaths were labored, and her shoulders slowly rose up and down with each attempt to fill her lungs.
“Nice deep breaths Emilee. That’s it. Good.” Molly put her stethoscope to Emilee’s bony back. The sound of an instrument playing loudly and an old man snoring mixed to make a dreadful wheezing. Molly pulled away with a loud sigh.
“Sorry honey, but it looks like oxygen is needed for you again.”
“That’s ok ma’am. I got to be without it for a whole hour this time.” Emilee went back to her coloring.
Molly walked away shaking her head. She just didn’t get it. Here was this little girl, stuck in a hospital bed for 14 days and yet she still responded with a smile and an inner peace that radiated around the entire room.
Molly had just finished charting a patient and headed up the hallway to room 313 when she heard it.
“Code alert Room 309. Code alert Room 309”. Molly’s heart stopped. She dropped what she was doing and ran into Emilee’s room. Within seconds there were 4 nurses surrounding her and the respiratory team had been paged.
Molly made her way to Emilee’s side.
“When I am afraid I will trust in Thee.” Emilee muttered quietly. Molly leaned closer. “When I am afraid I will trust in Thee.”
“It is ok Emilee, Dr. Molly is here. We are going to get you all settled ok?”
A slow smile spread across Emilee’s sunken face. “I know it will be ok. My Jesus is with me. I am not afraid.” She closed her eyes, her smile still lingering on her face. She looked so calm, and, strangely enough, strong in spite of her weakened, frail body.
Molly had other patients that she had to tend to, so as soon as Emilee was stable, Molly moved to continue her rounds. She would come back and visit on her own time at the end of her shift.
When the clock hit 6:30pm Molly slowly made her way to the pediatric floor. The rest of the day had gone smoothly, but Molly could only think of the little girl in room 309. She could not put her finger on it, but there was something different about this girl. Molly was determined to figure out where this pale, tiny girl got the inner strength that surpassed that of most adults.
She had a hunch that it had to do with that “Jesus”. Molly sighed. For years she had tried to do everything herself. She worked her way through college, and later med school. She was self-sufficient, and yet unhappy. Now an 8-yr-old patient was about to teach Molly the most important lesson she would ever learn.
Strength comes from the Lord.
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