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What I Saw, That Christmas Day

Christmas, day of glorious rejoice and jubilant celebration
Day of family reunions and childhood festivities
Nurses and doctors decked out in scrubs, masks, and gowns
Pounding desperately on a patient’s chest, tears and sweat pouring down their faces
Calling out for another epi, another pulse check, another shock, a chance…
Families crying out and pleading for a loved on to survive
though we know it is futile
Nurses pouring every ounce of strength into saving lives
already on their fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth hour of work
Home for a few troubled hours sleep then back again
And again
And again
Because there is no one else
Because it is desperate
Because people are dying
Grabbing a brightly decorated cookie from the breakroom on the run
Not as a treat, but as the day’s meal
A nurse standing helpless in the hall with tears of frustration and despair
Co-workers hug her in quick comfort
Then rush off to the next crisis
They understand, and they sympathize, and they persevere
Endless admissions and codes and dying and death
Beds available only because so many have died
Five patients waiting for one bed
Some die waiting
Some die later
Which patient is most critical?
Least critical?
A patient needing a higher level of care discovers there is nothing available for miles around
Constantly short-staffed, calls out daily and hourly for help, juggling assignments
Nurses sacrificing their holiday, their sleep, their meals, time with family
Fighting tooth and nail with every ounce of physical and mental strength
For hours days and weeks
The patient dies
We cry
And we persevere

About this poem

Christmas in ICU in 2021

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Written on December 25, 2021

Submitted by wolfsong79 on April 27, 2022

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:20 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme abcdefghijJJklmanopqrstumvggwxyz1 2 3 r
Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 1,603
Words 268
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 36

Laura Guarnera

Laura Guarnera is the mother of two and a critical care nurse of many years. Writing has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. more…

All Laura Guarnera poems | Laura Guarnera Books

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    "What I Saw, That Christmas Day" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 8 Jun 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/126676/what-i-saw,-that-christmas-day>.

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