the sun was rising, slowly.
when momo started with the discharge form, the station still had to rely on the fluorescent lighting offered by the bulbs twisted to the ceiling.
now, there was the familiar prickly heat of sunlight dancing on the bare skin of her nape.
maybe she should put her hair down. a quick glance to the black screen of her phone and the reflection wasn’t as pleasing as momo would have wanted. night shifts were always a hindrance to maintaining societal standards of beauty.
unless you were myoui mina, then– another matter entirely.
“got you a bar. chocolate, not granola.” the devil appears. angel, if momo would be honest.
the bags under momo’s eyes were bigger than how they were the night before, and the bun her hair was in was messy from the naps she stole in between bedside procedures and paperworks that popped up annoyingly, not unlike the badgers in the whac-a-moles found in fairs.
in contrast, mina was still pretty. just like how she looked when they clocked in yesterday. sure, her lips were a little paler and the hair had too many finger runthroughs, but she was glowing and ... jesus christ.
momo threw a small punch, not that it downed mina’s mood.
it had been a year since, more or less. momo didn’t keep track. point is: it had been long enough, and yet, they were still sneaking out like teenagers. sickening.
sometimes, sickeningly cute.
“nayeon’s surgery is finished, then?” momo sneered, a little bitter that mina got a pick-me-up in the middle of the night. break of dawn. morning. momo forgot to look at the time when mina told her she’d go for a quick run. a home run, likely. “who do i pay for the bar?”
mina waved her off, and getting free food bettered momo’s mood a little.
“doc,” the nurse called out, and there were times that momo would be hit with the realization that wow, her dreams were really coming true.
doctor dreams and the whole make-your-parents-proud thing. god, her five-year-old self was so naive. her aunt should have never gifted her that toy stethoscope.
this, however, wasn’t one of those times.
instead, momo gripped her pen a little tighter, and bit angrily at the chocolate bar mina opened for her.
“maybe if we stay silent, the orders will go away.” mina whispered. and hey, if the top intern in the department got tired of running errands, then it made momo feel a little less guilty about not responding to the call outright.
“doc,” the nurse called again. her voice was rising, and they both sucked in a deep breath.
mina was the first to respond, bending to the side to show herself from the shelf that sheilded them from sight.
the bend wasn’t normally achievable in non-flexible persons. in normal people. the people who didn’t do ballet and yoga and pilates and all other fancy forms of hurt veiled as exercise mina liked.
momo couldn’t do that angle of bending. it’d hurt her back.
ah, yes– her back was aching. how many minutes did she spend crouching on the same discharge form? the sun was above her head now, fluorescent lighting already unnecessary.
“bed 2 in room 201 needs a foley catheter insertion. bed 3 needs a foley catheter reinsertion.” mina said, sighing at the small paper the nurse gave her. “oh, room 205 has wound cultures due.”
“which bed?” momo asked, her mind already thinking who’d go where. she still wasn’t done with the paperworks.
mina smiled, and it was as ominous as it was pretty. “all of them.”
before momo could groan, before mina could laugh at their situation, the nurse called out. again.
“doc,” momo’s eye twitched. she felt it twitch but she wasn’t sure if it was because she needed sleep or if it was because she was getting stressed.
before she could figure out the answer to her own question, another call rang in the air.
her eye twitched, again. mina was already muffling down a laugh that was trying its best to get out.
“doc, just gonna inform that we have a new trans-in. admitted as a direct to o.r. case. currently wheeled out from p.a.c.u. and en route to room ... 209. lead surgeon was” please not jin’s, please not jin’s, please not– “jin. lead surgeon was doc jin. yep that’s all. tell me if the insertions and cultures are done.”
mina rubbed a few circles on momo’s back, and it didn’t really help. not when there was another batch of paperwork that she specifically had to do because it was handled by her direct senior. decking rules were such a bitch.
“finish your papers, momoring. i’ll do the bedside on my own.” okay, that helped. a lot. mina was such a heavensent.
“i love you, i really do.” momo said, smiling at the back of her other third. mina was already up and about, gathering supplies from the medication-storage area.
“good morning!” the other, other third made her entrance to the station, flashy and warm and giggly as per usual. seemed like nothing could ruin sana’s mood. but then,
“satang! perfect timing. go bedside with me?” mina asked, and if sana wasn’t blinded by the sunshine that oozed out of her eyes every morning, she would’ve seen the impish smile mina had.
it was a yes before sana knew what she was getting into, and by the time mina disclosed that she’d have to shove down rubber tubings down the organs of bed 2 and 3, well.
sana was whining on how she didn’t want her mornings tainted with too-large rotten mushroom lookalikes.
momo was already laughing, her snorts a signal for sana to complain louder.
alright, time to finish the discharge form.
and start with the admitting forms. also, the claim forms. prescriptions, too.
“doc?” why. why. why was the nurse not shutting up?
“yeah?” momo replied, her eyes following the backs of mina and sana, both making their way out of the station already.
“admitting section called. another one’s coming up. under jin, 209 too.”
“okay.” it really wasn’t, but that was nobody’s fault. “thank you.”
“so, doc hirai here will be doing your dressing today and i want you to look closely, okay? because it’ll be you who’ll do it tomorrow.” bedside rounds were nice. didn’t require papers and pens. momo thrived.
her senior was giving out the standard post-operative wound care instructions, the dos and don’ts, while momo was doing the actual dressing.
it was efficient. also, the hum of approval her senior gave when she’d finish the manual work or when she’d be the one to talk to the patients were strokes to her ego.
validation was always nice. positive reinforcements did wonders to her tired mind.
“good work. did you check the wound before you dressed it?”
momo nodded, mouthing a quick thank-you and goodbye to their latest patient. pumped out some sanitizing gel attached to the wall before getting the chart from her senior.
the discharge order was stamped and signed. all that was left for it was to be carried out, to be forwarded to the nurse.
one patient ticked off her census.
“surgical site dry. wound well coaptated, no erythema.”
another hum from her senior, and the ache in her hand from filling out the paperwork eased.
“i received your latest admissions already. the ones in 209.” a pat on the shoulder and a smile- skipping breakfast to complete the forms was the right thing to do.
they were back to the station, and momo could see both mina and sana writing on their own charts, steaming cups of coffee beside them.
another intern was there as well, holding up a familiar chart that momo was sure was hers.
a comanage, maybe?
her scrubs were red– medicine. momo didn’t have any patient comanaged with medicine.
“ones?” jin clarified, his hands already bringing out a crumpled piece of what was supposedly folded paper. tables in colors, printed in the smallest font possible, inked with multitudes of sidenotes. his own census. “you mean one, right? one patient in 209. the post-debridement.”
momo got her own census out of her pocket. slightly less crumpled, but the sidenotes overlapped and honestly momo couldn’t keep track of whose labs belonged to who anymore.
“ma’am told me you had two in 209? one’s post-op and another’s well, not post-op?” she was squinting, trying to make sense of her 6am handwriting. “hyun, 20-year-old female, status post wound debridement. and kang, 43-year-old female ...”
momo wasn’t a violent person per se. but at that moment, the only thing stopping her from banging her head against the thin steel of the charts in the station were the eyes looking at them.
especially the eyes of the intern clad in red, who lowered the flap of patient kang’s chart when she heard momo talking about it.
“kang, 43, female, admitted for lupus in flare?” a question, although they both knew the answer.
sana’s giggles were reaching her ears.
momo double checked her census again, and the letters didn’t change, diagnosis was still the same.
“... admitted for lupus in flare.” momo confirmed, and now mina was laughing.
“well, that... doesn’t sound surgical to me.” another pat on the shoulder, but this didn’t feel as nice as the first one. “don’t get all the patients, momo.”
maybe there was a ‘but good job tho’ thrown along with the goodbye her senior bade, but it didn’t register to momo’s mind.
momo found herself pouting in front of the nurses. nurses who were kind enough to not laugh outright, unlike the two interns at the back of the station.
so, momo learned, there were two jins.
a jin for surgery. a jin for medicine.
maybe there should be three– a gin for the heat creeping up at the base of momo’s skull, heat that was climbing its way up and momo was certain a headache was impending.
“uh,” familiar. the snow-white skin, the eagle eyes. “thanks, momo.” the respectful tone and automatic dip of the head, which momo found herself mimicking a second later.
“uh,” and momo felt she was becoming a mime but the bar mina gave her hours ago was long digested and the sleepiness she fought off earlier was changing its course and was now evolving to become a migraine. “you’re... welcome?”
okay, now the nurses were laughing. momo would’ve wanted to think it was because of something they saw on their phones. but their eyes were on momo, their ears prying on the awkward conversation.
an exchange between somebody she had a feeling she should’ve known but she didn’t. because her last lone brain cell gave up the second it failed to realize that she was making an entire set of paperworks for a patient that wasn’t her deck. wasn’t even on her service.
“rough night?” the eagle eyes weren’t so sharp anymore, a small smile on her lips powerful enough to soften the slope of her eyes. “let me get you coffee. my thanks for the papers.”
“i’m hungry too.” momo said, not really thinking. how could she? her neurons were long gone. no source of energy anywhere.
another round of laughter from the back of the room, and it wasn’t the energy momo wanted but it was enough for her to digest her words and actually feel embarassed by her demand.
“yeah? okay.” kim dahyun, the scrubs read. the embarassment doubled, although momo was confident that dahyun wouldn’t sense it. momo let her eyes read the name embroidered to the scrubs two more times, just to be sure. “it’s dahyun, by the way. we sorta went to med school together.”
forget the hunger and the headache. momo just wanted to be swallowed by the ground, preferrably stat.
there were hands that were hitting the table, hitting arms– an extension of stifled laughter. momo hoped the ground would swallow sana and mina, too.
“no, i get it.” the smile was bigger now, and the warmth in momo wasn’t just at the back of her skull anymore. was pooling in her cheeks, and oddly, in her chest as well. “c’mon. quick canteen run? the rice should be hot by now.”
“go, momo. you’re useless when you’re hungry.” it was a dig from sana, but momo wasn’t even offended. it was true, to some extent.
“bring me a bottle of coffee when you come back, i have an o.r. in an hour.” mina said, downing the last bit of coffee her cup had.
“you should really drink water.” momo shot back, partly worried about mina’s caffeine intake, partly just wanting to annoy her friend that was still glowing. although maybe now the glow was just the rays of sunlight scattering from the window behind her.
mina replied with a flip of a bird, and dahyun was smart enough to pull momo out of the station before momo retaliated.
the nurses did give them some nine reminders yesterday how they should tone down their voices while inside the station. hallways. wards.
jihyo grouping momo together with mina and sana for the entirety of their internship was an earful for the nurses and aides. but it was the necessary tradeoff because if nayeon and mina were in the same group, well. oh, jihyo and sana, too.
“you should really drink water.” momo would’ve rolled her eyes but then dahyun did buy her breakfast and dessert. so what if the dessert was a 500ml bottle of coke?
so, swallowing snark along with the chewed food in her mouth, momo continued to eat. dahyun wasn’t complaining about the silence, her eyes lost on the horizon beyond momo’s shoulder. the sweets section of the canteen, which was unsurprisingly empty at half past nine in the morning.
a guttural sound from dahyun which momo acknowledged as a harmless groan. a second later, dahyun was slumping her head on the table.
“what’s wrong?” a question sprung out of courtesy more than anything else. momo’s attention was still on the food. the bacon was honey-cured this morning, the omelette spiked with cream cheese. and dahyun was right– the rice was hot. heavenly.
“it’s a monday. the only thing that makes going on duty on a monday bearable is the chocolate pudding they serve and there’s none. so today sucks.”
“it’s not even ten yet. sweets come out at ten, i think.” it was supposed to be reassuring, an extension of hope to dahyun’s problem. momo understood dahyun’s misery. food was a driving force to waking up and getting courage to face hell head-on, er, the hospital.
dahyun’s head was still on the table, and the red mark that’d spread across dahyun’s forehead was inevitable. at least it’d match her scrubs.
“i have rounds with my consultant by ten.” dahyun whined, irritation in her voice dripping into momo’s ears. cute, really.
momo’s hand traded the fork she gripped for hair against her palm before she realized what she was doing.
one, two, three pats to the head, the last pat extending into a stroke. it was softer than how she’d pet boo, and it was probably the right thing to do because dahyun raised her head from the table to give a small smile.
momo smiled too, but then her eyes landed on dahyun’s forehead. her red, red forehead.
meals were always better with laughter.
“how’s ward 2?” momo asked, her feet synching with dahyun’s steps. left, right, left.
“right, you guys were the ones in medicine before us.” dahyun slid her phone out of the back of her scrubs, held it a little near to momo. a permission to let her see the screen. “full capacity now. although there should be two discharges today. one that came in for chemo over the weekend and another completing antibiotics.”
and dahyun was talking– eyes tilting when they’d gloss over a patient who was improving, lips folding into a pout when they’d run over one deteriorating. she cared, that much momo got from their walk to ward 2.
to ward 2, the service ward of medicine which was exactly a building and three floors away from ward 11, the private wards where momo still had patients to see and dress. to where sana and mina were, waiting for their bottles of coffee.
the buzz from her phone was probably the caffeiene addicts, but she was going to go to them anyway so they could wait a little bit more. dahyun talking about how mannitol shouldn’t be used in head trauma was more interesting. informative, if momo needed to spring up with a more acceptable excuse.
“you! sana’s been looking for you.” the voice was loud, and with how that same voice had been scolding her for years now, momo’s automatic response was already a roll of her eyes.
didn’t mean that momo wouldn’t smile and squish jihyo in a side hug. jihyo squirming was always nice. she was too easy to fluster. maybe that was why sana still loved to annoy her girlfriend to bits, despite having four years under their belt.
“and what’s an ob intern doing in ward 2?” and because momo knew it’d pop a vein in jihyo’s head, she stuck out her tongue too.
dahyun laughed at the exchange for a moment, gave momo a small thank you in the next. although momo got confused on what the thanks was for. got confused on why she could suddenly feel her palms getting sweaty under dahyun’s eyes. they were really pretty.
on another note, ward 2 was abnormally humid this morning. the busted heat controls in this part of the hospital was a perfect explanation to the damp hands. yeah. that.
“momo! go back to 11 now.” nayeon popped up, replacing dahyun’s spot. so there were two ob interns in medicine’s ward? it didn’t look good.
momo hoped jeongyeon wasn’t here. having jihyo scolding her was one thing, having her roommate giving her an earful was another. momo already suffered from jeongyeon’s nagging in their apartment.
“make me.” but annoying her friends were always a guilty pleasure, and nayeon clenching her jaw was like icing to a cake.
“we have an intubated post-op who delivered in transit and came to the e.r. eclamptic, currently tossed to medicine. and while we’re waiting for a bed in the intensive care to be available, surgery interns from 11 are whining because their coffee is late.” jihyo said, glaring at momo. “bring my girlfriend her second morning coffee, please.”
yikes. no wonder they looked stressed. momo should get away soon. being out of post in broad daylight brought in bad things.
“code!” oh, jeongyeon was there. bedside.
momo shot a mental sorry to mina and sana as she placed their now-warm coffee bottles on the window to the nurses station. she substituted jeongyeon’s place after a minute, her arms straight, one hand on top of the other as she pumped on the patient’s sternum.
what was the saying? another day to save lives? sure.