Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Prompt 18.4: Trip/ Writers Muses

Write a ficlet about a trip where things didn't go the way they should have..

It was hard to believe I was finally back at County but, as the elevator doors closed, shutting out the noise of the well-wishers, there was no denying it. I never thought it would be so exhausting, it wasn't even that anything had been asked of me, no, that would come later, and I knew it would. I wasn't the hero they made me out to be.

I'd told myself that my going to the Congo was a way of helping those in need, even though I know now that I was only using the trip as an excuse for running away from my own problems. I had begun to doubt myself, question my decisions, and put the lives of my patients at risk, and I thought that maybe by going, I would find something inside of myself that would help me rediscover what had drawn me to medicine in the first place. If you had asked me that at the time though, I would have denied it.

In the beginning, nothing changed for me. It didn't matter that I was suddenly working 18 hour days, facing victims of war instead of those who made their way daily into County's busy ER, I still wasn't seeing their faces.

It wasn't until I made the decision to go to the clinic in Matenda that things would change for me, though I wouldn't know it at first. I'd already been there once during my stay, nothing had changed then, why should this time be any different? In fact, I wasn't there alone when all of this started, John was with me, and Gillian, as well as Patrique, we had a clinic full of patients and a war raging around us. We knew the fighting was close, we just didn't realize how close until the explosions began, and then came the screaming that would introduce us to Chance and her mother. We barely had time to take the little girl's leg before the soldiers and Mai Mai over-ran the camp. I scooped her up into my arms, we gathered our patients and we ran away from the clinic and into the darkness, hoping to find some sense of safety with no idea if it was to be found. After a night spent hiding in the abandoned cane fields we returned to find the clinic ransacked, our supplies seriously depleted.

They wanted us to abandon the clinic after that, but my ego wouldn't let me, I said it was because I wouldn't leave my patients, but I think I was still taunting death, and even aanother direct confrontation with the Mai Mai wasn't enough to scare me into leaving. I don't think even then I was really considering what was best for my patients, and it wasn't until we were again forced from the clinic, and all but Chance and her Mother abandoned Patrique and I that I realized that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for me. They had a chance to save themselves like all of the others, yet they refused to go, and it didn't register with me as to why. Even when I told Patrique to leave me, to take the girl and go, they wouldn't budge. Because of me Sakima was subjected to rape, her daughter was forced to witness things no child should have to see, and Patrique, Patrique made the greatest sacrifice of all, he gave his life to save mine. I wish I could say I understood why, but, I'm not sure I know what all of these people saw in me, that was invisible to my own eyes.

Somehow, Sakima was able to convince them to spare my life, she and Chance were allowed to live, and despite all they had suffered themselves, they still took on my care as I battled untreated malaria. I don't know how Carter and Gillian found us, I don't know how they convinced the Mai Mai to let the three of us walk away after all we had seen. All I know, is I left the Congo a far different man then the one I was when I had arrived. Now, that I'm back at County, I have to wonder how all of this will affect me, how it will change the way I look at my patients, and the care I provide to them. I know there will be changes, there have to be because I'm a different person, I don't know that anyone could have gone through what we did and not been changed by it. I owe my life to Chance and her Mother, and to Carter who refused to accept that I was dead when he heard the news, and while thank you's don't begin to cover how I feel, it's a start.

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