From the December 1988 magazine.

You Don't Have to Be Alone

I wish to share with you a Christmas experience. I am an AA member and I also work in a critical care unit as a registered nurse. Shortly after the day shift started Christmas Day, we got a call from the medical floor to tell us they were sending a patient up to us because he was depressing the hell out of the nurses on that floor. It seemed like a crazy reason to transfer a patient to intensive care. Our charge nurse said, "Maggie, he's yours." Through the doors came my patient--a chronic alcoholic in the end stages of liver failure. He was dying!

I will describe what this man looked like--my Christmas present, as my coworker named him. He was in his mid-fifties although it was impossible to truly judge his age. He weighed about 120 pounds--mostly fluid. He had long spindly arms and legs and huge swollen hands and feet. There were open weeping sores on his body. He was the color of a sunset--reddish-orange and brown. Out of every orifice of his body came fluids of the same color. His urine was that color. His feces were that color. The foamy secretions from his mouth and nose were that color. Even his tears were that color.

-- Margaret B.

Ottawa, Ontario

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