Chapter 3. The Young Doctor
It was difficult at first to return to a regimented program at the hospital. The Matron was stern and wouldn’t tolerate indiscipline or shoddy work and that was OK with Sheila. She had an interest in helping people and soon became a favourite with patients. Her cheery smile won over most. It was very occasionally someone made a disparaging remark about her ancestry, but Sheila brushed those remarks off and treated them with care and understanding. In her mind she’d decided long ago she’d identify with her ancestral people and it just so happened they were black. There was only a hint of that in her colouring, but she had some of their features and she knew she was beautiful inside and out. So, if anyone had a problem with that they had to deal with it, not her.
The hawk-eyed Matron noticed it all. One day after one of those remarks from a patient was overheard she suddenly materialized in the room and asked Sheila to wait for her in her office as there were things she wished to discuss. When Sheila was out of sight she gave the patient woman a piece of her mind and suggested perhaps she may prefer to be discharged and transfer to another hospital if the service provided was not to her satisfaction.
Nurses were nurses. They were her brood and she’d protect them as well as chastise when necessary. No patient had a right to insult her girls! The woman humbled begged to be allowed to stay and promised to be more courteous. But Sheila had lingered in the corridor and smiled in appreciation. She scampered down the corridor to the office so Matron would think she’d not overheard. The Matron returned to the office and sat her down. She apologized on behalf of the woman and then told Sheila to get back to the wards. There was work waiting to be done. That incident was a high point in Sheila’s life which she referred to when disparaging remarks were made in future. Perhaps not all ghost skins were bad. On reflection she obviously had some of their genetic material and considered herself to be a good person, and on further reflection she’d met some of her own people who she didn’t admire for their actions.
Then one day not too long after that incident one of the local doctors arrived at the hospital with a much younger man in tow. As the two of them went from ward to ward visiting with their patients they were met and accompanied by a senior nurse and trainee. Those were the days before insurance funds squeezed hospitals to the point where hospitals had to deliver services in haste and with much more limited staffing. It was a friendlier era where patients received more attention than can be afforded today and most country hospitals were small and privately owned. The young nurses found reasons to busy themselves as close to the pair as they could get while they completed their rounds much to the annoyance of Matron who scolded them and sent them back to their respective duties. The younger man was a doctor recently graduated but still attached to older experienced medical practitioners for experience. He was athletic in build and very handsome.
Once again Matron called Sheila to her office. From now on Sheila would accompany the senior nurse on duty when those doctors called. She seemed to be more level headed and serious about her work and obviously didn’t entertain romantic fantasies. Matron herself would keep a sharp eye on the others. Sheila learned from conversations between the two that the younger man would be with the doctor for a year before his contracted period finished.
Over the next few months Sheila observed the eagerness of this young man to learn. He had the theory well enough, but it is only in practice you discover there are new horizons in medicine to discover and techniques to learn. His voice was deep and manly and despite long hours on duty obviously made time to keep his body in trim. She found herself taking a liking to this young man. He was alert and friendly to all and confident as he made his diagnosis under the watchful eyes of the senior doctor who obviously approved of these decisions. There was one occasion when he smiled at her approvingly as he watched her handling a patient and responding to instructions. She couldn’t get those eyes out of her mind but firmly bought herself back to reality. Maybe she looked white, but she was part of unique race and it showed in her features. She’d studied herself in the mirror many times trying to determine how fate had made her what she was. Compared to some of the other nurses she was a rare beauty and she acknowledged that humbly. Why was life in this society so complicated then?
A few times over months to come he’d come alone and Sheila imagined the shy smile he gave her in greeting before their rounds was reserved only for her. On those occasions she’d feel the thrill of chemistry between them but discipline herself and determine to continue to keep it professional. He’d soon be on his way and she could resume her predictable life and be happy in her chosen profession.
To be continued.
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