At the Terminus of Romantic Dreams, an ICUApril 26, 2012
It was early. The sun had yet to rise, but already the ICU was filled with stark fluorescence and beeping alarms. My patient sat alone and aphasic, helpless amidst the bustle of the unit. The day stretched long ahead of us.
The circumstances of Frank’s admission were unusual. The nursing report (conveyed with a snicker) was that, while vacationing in our coastal city with his mistress, he’d slipped away and visited yet another lady friend. While engaged in an “intimate” act, he’d hit his head on the coffee table and been knocked unconscious.
The paramedic’s report backed up that version of events, but Frank’s admission CT scans of the brain weren’t consistent with head trauma. Instead, a vascular abnormality was found. He’d suffered two seizures since admission to the hospital.
That’s the start of “The Love Song of Frank,” the Reflections essay in the May issue of AJN. Click on its title to read the entire essay (and, once there, perhaps click through to the PDF version for the best read).
Those of you who know the T. S. Eliot poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (beautifully spun, and a favorite of bookish adolescents for its highly quotable and world-weary take on conventional society) will recognize the irony in the title.
But the essay, by ICU nurse and regular AJN blogger Marcy Phipps, stands on its own in its sympathetic but unsentimental description of a nurse’s encounter with a man who’s reached the limits of his own brand of romanticism. Some readers may have less compassion for this man and his apparent fate than others. Either way, it’s well worth a read, and not our typical Reflections essay either, if such a thing exists.—JM, senior editor/blog editor