Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nurse and Doctor, Neighbor and Friend By THERESA BROWN, R.N. -

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” begins Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall,” about two neighbors who meet to repair the gaps and holes in the stone wall separating their properties. They walk on either side of it, picking up and replacing fallen stones as they go.

Theresa BrownJeff Swensen for The New York Times Theresa Brown, R.N.

The poem came to mind one recent day on the oncology floor where I work. It’s a medical oncology floor, where we tend to medical issues that go along with cancer, like giving chemotherapy and dealing with complications of metastatic disease. But it turned out that one of my patients had a serious surgical problem.

Surgical oncology is several flights of stairs below us. Even if they were next door, though, I imagine we’d still be inhabiting different worlds. There’s “med onc” and “surg onc,” and never the twain shall meet.


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