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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dietetic Internship Graduation! Week 41 of 41!

Graduation Week: Week 41 - THE LAST WEEK!!!
It felt like Staff Relief would never end but hallelujah it did and the last week of this Dietetic Internship has finally arrived!  Graduation week!!  This week spilled over with presentations, final training, and paperwork; no work days were completed in less than 10 hours.  To make this week even more memorable, on Tuesday morning I received a rather peculiar email; a fellow dietetic intern colleague Nick also received it verbatim:
“You provided patient care to a patient that has since tested positive for tuberculosis.  You provided patient care to “Mr. TB” on xx/xx/xx date, and have been exposed.  Please arrange to go to Employee Health as soon as possible to be tested for TB.”

Nick & I both received the email while in the office together.  I heard an awkward chuckle at the workstation behind me.  I read the email without fully comprehending it, then re-read it.  Before I realized it Nick & I were already in harmony through grunts and “uh huh,” logging out of our computers and nearly galloping to Employee Health!  As a reminder: TB tests require a small amount of innocuous TB strain to be injected to your forearm and then the ‘test’ is read 48-72 hours later.  Later that night I was at home regarding my forearm.  Not only had the area swelled, but also it was bright red with clear edges.  OH MY!  UH OH!  I was SURE I contracted TB!  To make matters worse, NPR was airing weekly stories on TB from across the globe.  I knew one thing: This was bad, BAD.  Like isolation and sequestration for months or even years, bad!
Thankfully I figured out that the sunscreen I had applied twice that afternoon was the likely culprit.  But not before I had sent rapid-fire texts to Nick with my paranoia, partially recruiting him to my fear!

Nick & Jessie's clean TB testing montage!
The rest of the week was mostly uneventful, filled with ongoing long days to tie up loose ends.  I presented the results of my 9-month research intervention project and ambulatory care project on Wednesday to much relief.  Graduation Day Friday finally arrived with much anticipation.  The day overall was a very perfect day.  Bear with me as I recount my pleasures…
Memphis VAMC Dietetic Internship graduating class of 2013!

The day started with (more!) presentations, a poster session, and finally the graduation ceremony.  Lots of family and friends attended from near and far, people spoke kind words, encouraging each Dietetic Intern to seemingly forget any frustrations or setbacks throughout the journey.  Niceties were stated; the Director said of me, “Jessie has a natural strength to breakdown complex topics, and put the terms into words that each patient understands.”  Important Top Dogs spoke, we were awarded very cool plaques and certificates, and finished with a reception.  We all felt “warm fuzzy” feelings oblivious of all other thoughts.  After collecting all of my belongings for my last exit out of our intern office, I went upstairs to the SICU waiting area to visit with a patient’s family.  This patient and family, whom we will call “The J’s,” had already had a long unpaved road of 8 weeks with no bright light in sight.  The Patient J came into the VAMC to have a regular dental/denture appointment.  He mentioned some lingering chest pai, and was very shortly thereafter admitted to the hospital through the ER.  He went from dentures to heart complications to abdominal compartment syndrome to stroke from a clot developed during heart surgery to intolerance of all oral food intake (extensive nausea-vomiting).  Trust me when I say this is the short list of his complications.  This was after a scheduled appointment to fix his dentures!

Needless to say this family’s beautiful unfailing optimism, support, warmth, and gratefulness to the medical staff captured many hearts and minds.  The wife of over 40 years slept every single night in a makeshift air mattress bed in the SICU waiting room (or in his room floor when he was not in the ICU).  They demonstrated such gratitude that it made each health practitioner want to be a better caregiver for Patient J, including staying up late reading more medical, nutrition, pharmacy texts to better treat him.  They were truly an inspiration in love, dedication, and loyalty.  They make people want to be better versions of themselves personally and professionally.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
e.e. cummings

Memphis VAMC Dietetic Intern Class of 2013

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