This month’s Reflections essay is by Britni Busfiield, who is an RN on the progressive care neuro/trauma unit at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In this one-page essay, she writes about an experience during her last year of nursing school in which she observed a cerebral angiogram conducted on a patient with a suspected aneurysm.
While very little happens in the essay in any dramatic sense, we felt that we should publish it because it touched on a range of experience that is easily forgotten by those who work in health care, and by everyone else as well.
Wonder: easy to forget, difficult to convey.
The best word for this type of experience might be wonder—when technology illuminates the hidden structures of a complex and often mysterious organ like the brain; when a medical team works with seamless coordination as the patient whose fate may rest in the balance lies shrouded at their center and the physician speaks to her as he threads a catheter into her brain. She writes:
The screen lit up. Bright white fluid leaked slowly into the intricate map of vessels across the display. The dye flooded in like a drop of paint in water, dancing its way through each vein in lazy pirouettes. I felt my mouth hang open beneath my mask. The image before me was foreign yet familiar. An elaborate system of roots, a tree wrapping deep into the earth.
How to be clear about what’s mysterious?
These everyday events in health care serve a purpose and shouldn’t be seen through an aestheticized haze, but that’s not what Busfield does here. The writing is lucid but evocative. Life—the self, science, health care, technology, the human brain, pattern itself and the way it repeats throughout nature—really is a mystery, we may feel as we read. It may seem like the simplest of points, but it’s so easy to forget, and so hard to share with others in writing.
(“Second Nature” is free to read until July 15. Please also note that AJN is looking for submissions for the Reflections column. You don’t have to be a published writer…to learn more, read “Seeking Good Nurses With a Story to Tell.“)