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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(because @contrabandkarma told me to write): the war nurse

I wonder how war nurses feel. Dealing with soldiers away from home, already in emotional distress, wrecked further by the trauma of war. Blood, tears, last words and letters. The war nurse sees more soldiers dying or maimed or traumatised psychologically, than patients she nurses to health that go home relieved and happy.

Not only is the job heart breaking in itself, there exists the threat that one day, one dying soldier might be that one straw that breaks the camel's back. And she becomes irreparable, albeit still going about her duties, but numbed and overfilled with the sadness of the ward, and the world. Welschmerz.

Then there are the matrons, other nurses, nurses' aides, doctors. People who undermine you. Almost like a persecution, somewhat like how Mother Teresa was turned down time and again to be allowed to do missionary work in India. The war nurse loves her patients, but already pulled and torn by the amount of suffering she has sought to co-bear with the soldiers, she faces more crushing blows to her heart from the spirits of her comrades in medicine. It is a war after all, everyone is distraught, and has no luxury of pandering to or pondering over.

Even the young, school girl nurses' aides undermine her somehow.

There is no one to turn to, to whom she can simply whisper her woes, to let them occupy another vessel as well as her own. For she is either surrounded by others who have no vessel to bear, or people who will invalidate her thoughts through some magic of the absense of love and respect. Who will rape the contents of her vessel, or simply disallow them to enter their own.

She meets a farmhand, who works not far from the military hospital. He is cheerful almost everyday, despite the air raids and constant ambulance traffic passing him. He brings her field flowers, fresh eggs from the barn, walks with her when she can take a break off nursing the infirmed.

She tries to enter the farm boy's vessel with her worries and thoughts, but tragically realises, he cannot bear them. Simply because he knows nought of the deep river of empathy that drives her, for to him, a simple, good day's work that bears fruit to bring home to his family, is more than sufficient. The nurse understands this, but she has never been one who satisfied easily with such content. She continues to love the farm boy's sunshine, and decides to bury her vessel, for no one in this war, around her, now, will be able to hear of its whispers and not break without judgement.

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