poured out before bed
“Why are we whispering?” the bleary night float intern asks.
My sigh sounds more like a wheeze.
“We aren’t,” I reply in my very best breathy gravel. “I just have no voice.” I feel my larynx burn.
“Oh no! Poor Mullberry! Wait, how are you going to present your patients on rounds?”
“Good question,” I say froggily, just as the team room phone rings. Out of habit I pick it up but stop mid phone-to-shoulder nestle when I realize my mistake. The intern giggles and nabs the phone away. “A-Team, this is Kelli,” her clear voice rings out. I’m jealous beyond – well, spoken words, anyway.
I lean back in my creaky desk chair, feeling like the stool we fixate on during GI rounds. I’m cold, but diaphoretic, light-headed, but heavy with that sticky brand of sick-tired, and my upper respiratory track feels as if a swarm of trigger-happy fire ants have taken up residence. I stuff a bottle of Germ-X in my pocket next to the tissues, grab a handful of gloves, and affix to my sweaty face a bright yellow mask to protect my patients from my hazardous breath.
The good news – all my important viral swabs came back negative, so I don’t have to worry about staying out X number of days per hospital policy and then making those days up on random inpatient teams weekends during my outpatient month. The bad news – I may feel on death’s door – heck, I may even be on death’s door – but the clerkship powers-that-be expect my eager attendance today.
I pass a familiar nurse in the hall and smile at her from beneath my mask. “Good morning,” I say just as loud as I can muster.
“Oh, hey Mullberry….why are we whispering?” she asks quietly.