I just had occasion to spend three days in a hospital intensive care unit (I was working, not being sick, don’t worry). Alarms go off all the time there, all of which look and sound the same to me (basically, like ohmyGod someone’s dying do something right now!). To the nurses, though–big, big differences.


blood soaking
into the test strip


Most of the alarms bore the nurses. They barely look up when the beeping starts. Even when there’s, like, a red flashing alert on the monitor about someone’s heartbeat being all out of whack. The nurses know what kind of out of whack is really worrisome and what kind is the monitor being, frankly, kind of a worrywart.


October—my brittle teeth surprise me by not breaking


When it’s a real alarm, though, they move. You look up and the nurse who was sitting two feet away from you half a second ago is nowhere in sight. Where’d she go? To check on Mr. Darby.


the side view mirror
breaks off in my hand


How do they know? I kept wondering. I never know. I never know what to worry about. All the alarms sound the same. And the world is full of alarms. (Have you noticed that? Or is it just me?)


I quickly throw my life
into a suitcase



12 thoughts on “intensive

  1. hey, Melissa. Good one.

    Merrill is, as usual, being gracious. I can testify along with her that some crews are better than other. Some alarms, and cries for help, are real and unanswered or not answered for a very long time.

    We are all far short of perfection, givers and receivers.

    And some alarms are not heard at all.

    • Oh, I know, Mark. I’ve been a patient myself at other times. This crew did seem to know what they were doing, though. I would like to have their skill at discernment. Or any skill at discernment, really.

      • I know what you mean about discernment. I prefer liking over disliking for that reason–you never know when you might not be getting it.

        for the record, the (above) comment to which you responded must be by an imposter poster. I like to think I’m not that whiny. How they hacked my email account is a mystery. Might as well let the rascal continue with the charade. He/she will tire of it soon enough.

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