Isabel Prentice ~ The Nurses, the Inmate, and the Injured

The Nurses, the Inmate, and the Injured


The big day came around quickly. Anticipation and nerves jumble together inside my stomach as if a washing machine on high. Trouble words seep through my brain down to my throat pushing their way out of my mouth.

What if? But what if this happens?

Shoving them back down my esophagus, I think about what life would be like away…



Away from my friends, and my home, and my family, and the small patch that makes up a town, a town that I live in and breathe in the farm fresh air.



Away is where I’ll go. Not for long, yet long enough. Long enough for a bag, a very large duffel bag, to be packed, which took as long to pack as I will be away for. Packing. Packing took forever, an entire eternity.


Somehow, the way you look and the clothes you wear shouldn’t be important, but with things to do you need to be well packed. Shorts, tops, tees. Socks, Crocs, and fleece.


Once all is in the bag, I strut straight, but so slow to the car, trying to push what’s so close so so far. I hold back the tears, not losing my pride, we are leaving now, and I will not be afraid to fly.



The road was long, the road was short. Full of twists and curves, arches and swerves, everything was turned askew. Heart beating fast, faster than ever, the time for Camp was now or never. Pulling up into the dirt driveway, you could hear the hustle and bustle of sound. Children running, screaming, playing. Counselors muting the crowd.  


“Goodbye”, was the sound I heard and returned automatic and sad, ”Goodbye Mom, goodbye Dad”.


Arriving at the bunk, my safe haven, my new home, I could tell my summer sister journey was beginning to grow. Exploding with eager excitement, nothing would stand in my way, I started the second surprise-filled session with nothing but high expectations, Camp would be great!

At Camp we continue our Jewish heritage with Shabbat services Saturday mornings and Friday nights. Services are my favorite fragment of Camp. So far, everything has been serene, nothing could ruin the Camp experience.


“Come on, Izzy”, encourages one of my bunk counselors, Kraz, “Shabbat is almost here!”


Every sundown on a Friday night we take a break from our busy week-life and slow down until sundown the next day.


“Be right there!”, I shout in return.


Putting the finishing touches on my blue and white outfit, I turn around and ask my friend how it looks. Getting a response with a snide remark, I shrug her rudeness off and end up going to look in the bathroom mirror.


That’s when it all starts.

Slipping, falling, gliding, stalling, I grab ahold a chunk of air and rapidly descend to the hard as rock ground. I feel enclosed in a heavy place. Trapped. Suddenly, everything I’ve hoped for, my wonderful Camp experience fades away. I sit on the floor, my body surrounded by worries and other bodies, except they are upright. Seeing the reflection of LED lights bestowed upon my bunkmates’ worried faces makes me only feel worse. Extreme pressure and sweat seduces me to a world of pain. Heart pounding pounding pounding, hands throbbing throbbing throbbing. Slowly, it overtakes me and I feel as if a piece of glass that has just broken into a thousand tiny pieces. Questions blur but I don’t know how to answer them. I think to myself many, many things. For starters, how could I have prevented this from happening? Yet, all my questions are silenced by my bunkmates and counselors who demand I leave for the nurse momentarily. Running fast, I fling forth the door with my free hand, cradling my arm with it after.                                                             


Flashforward to the car ride.  

Two hours timelessly trekking to town. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, you can get lost.

Please, oh please don’t get lost! I plead silently.

The pain pushes persistently, my veins bulging and throbbing at the wrist. The hours supposedly ‘flying by’ seemed everlasting. Afraid of damaging the injury further, I decide to grasp it gently, and rock it back and forth in a repetitive motion as if putting a baby to sleep with a lullaby. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.

It must be working, I think. It must be working.


My fellow inmate in this mobile cell of a sedan interrupts my thoughts. Inmate 105, status: ill with thought cases of an ear infection, strep throat, and the delightful infectious disease of Pinkeye. It speaks.


It asks how I’m feeling. I answer with as much enthusiasm as a rat being slowly consumed by a snake. I tried.



Out of our celled barrier and currently at the Doctor’s Office, we sit in the already infected and, hopefully cleaned daily, waiting room seats. I choose the one farthest from everyone else and closest to the wall. Most of the germs couldn’t reach me from there.

First summoned to the Death Room (a little too dramatic? I think not), was Avigail, or as commonly called Inmate 105. Why they didn’t choose me first I have no idea, so don’t ask.

Mom was on the receiving end, frantic as most moms usually are and can be. The story of, well, this, took about the entire time of Inmate 105’s appointment. Once the worried one known as my mother was off the phone, Dr. What’s His Face was enunciating an ear-splitting expression that our form of insurance was not accepted.

Hold the phone. I recall thinking. Just because I’m in Massachusetts and I have Connecticare, I can’t get some decent doctor’s prescription?

All these thoughts were thundering theatrically and thrown together thrashing inside my brain. Oblivious outrages were overtaking me.

Let’s just go.

I’m trying to tolerate the terrible torment I am in, and hold back rivers of tears.


Instead of a doctor, a radiologist business appears before my tired eyes. As if an omen from God, no one is waiting, thus sending us to a room with a nurse. Inside the closed space it was absolutely silent. Just the Patient, the Inmate, the Camp Nurse, and this Nurse. Though not quite a doctor’s office, you could still sense all pediatrician smells. Hand Sanitizer, doctor approved Dial soap, and the artificial stained rubber of a plastic glove. Sitting on the solid blue chair, my sweaty shorts stick to the base creating a steady friction. Listening to my Camp Nurse reassure me everything will be okay, I take a deep inhale. Slowly, I exhale. Sounds surround me. From the click-clicking of a pen outside the door, tap-tapping over and over again, to the scratch-scratches of a pencil against an old, brown clipboard. Tasting hunger on my lips, mouth now watering with ease, time lets my stomach know dinner should be around the corner with a loud chime of the grandfather clock by the sidewall of the room. Something erupts inside me. Maybe the sweet twinge of adventure being off campus, or the current killer pain the Nurse causes while pressing and pinching and pulling and pricking my arm. The motions go on and on for another ten minutes before I zone out again.  



What goes on next tunes me back in. A slow murmur begins outside the wooden door. Whispers, thoughts, and words continuously pop in and out my ears, every other sound being absorbed. The binging and splooping of cell phones galore. IMessage, Snapchat, and Instagram ding loudly.

Aren’t nurses supposed to be researching and helping? Not typing or texting or snapping or chatting?

I ask the Camp Nurse, my Inmate, too, what the Nurses are doing instead of tending to us few. Overheard discussions involve boyfriends (past, present, and future), favorite meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Diets, deals, food in a frenzy. People, movie stars, that and celebrities. And, what? Are they actually discussing my injury? I have a fracture, no a break, maybe a slight sprain too? Who knows, they’ll do what they gotta do.


Quick, slight footsteps interrupt my thoughts. Racing back to the chairs, we act like we haven’t heard a thing. But in reality, we’ve heard more than everything. A nurse, different than before, has a tag saying “Hello, I’m Melanie”. Words and instructions spill out of her mouth, I only listen to a select few.

The ones that catch me are, slight or bad fracture. Not a break. Don’t worry. Hand-eye coordination activities are not advised. Only a few weeks with a big bulky brace. That’s all. Only one and a half weeks.

I think about how her voice sounds like a tiny mouse, squeaky and shrill.

Zoning back into the lovely conversation, Melanie is almost finished instructing me on how to care for it, how to put on and remove my brace, how to sleep with it on because that’s what you should do, blah blah blah. The list is endless.


After buying the brace, at least someone takes Connecticare, we are on the road again. The ride back takes another two hours, food still 120 miles away. The time given was certainly enough to continue getting acquainted with this blooming blob of bacterial flesh sitting approximately 13.5 inches away from me. Way too close! Inmate 105, status: as sick as ever. She didn’t even take her meds yet!




The cool, crisp air shone through the sky, you could feel it tingling through your bones. All around you, the air was weightless and slim. Night dew was appearing on flowers, one by one little droplets form, the magic unfolds. Tight molecules of water spread from one velvety petal to the next, magnifying my tired eyes’ viewpoint and inspection. The only bright side to the actual darkness outside, at 10:00 pm, that Friday night was the dinner. Smells of our Shabbat customs drift through the air, still lingering from celebrations left hours ago. Quiet night surrounds me. Everyone asleep, I feel as though an intruder, an unwanted stranger or solicitor. Ever so slowly, I progress to the Nurse’s Office, where the constant smell of savory food increases continuously. Creeping closer and closer, I open the flimsy screen door, nervous to see the quality and abundance of good food before me.




The sound startles me itself. One word disrupts the eery and awry silence within the enclosed space of a room. In a flash, the lights snap on and flicker ever so slightly. Knish in hand, tightly secured within my grasp, I jump up in shock. The Camp Nurse. She has come to join me and, oh look, she brought a friend, the Inmate 105. Thankful it was just them, I continue to chow down my guilty pleasures, hungrier than ever before.


“Seems like you couldn’t wait to get started.”

Her voice echoes and echoes and echoes inside the room. I just simply nod my head in acknowledgement. Soon both the Inmate and the Nurse come to join me. After the once-full box of tupperware is emptied beyond all beliefs, I stand up and walk away.


“Thanks for everything.” Feeling tired and full, a wimpy response was all I could manage.




Once I took my Advil for the persistent pain prickling my wrist and body, I started my journey back to my bunk. As soon as I came in, my counselors jumped up and tiptoed a tip-tip and a tip-top over to the door. They surrounded me in one outrageous hug and instructed lots of sleep. Lying alone on the top bunk, above my dozing friend, I think to myself how unnecessary it all was. Aside from worrying about what people thought, I could’ve had fun.  My thoughts were cut out by the time my head hit the soft and feathery down pillow.



Isabel Prentice

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