Monday, April 4, 2011

April 1968

The place was Memphis Tennessee. The date was April 1968. Martin Luther King was in town for the sanitation workers strike. Times were different then, they were called garbage men. There was unrest in the city. Violence erupted between the supporters of the sanitation workers and the police. How did this affect me? I was a senior student nurse at the time. We were sent to help in the overflowing emergency rooms. I walked into this situation and was immediately overwhelmed. There were injured people everywhere, in wheelchairs, on stretchers. They were bleeding and moaning. I was terrified. Nurses threw IV fluid bottles and tubing at me and told me to get them ready to hang. That meant I would prime the fluid through the tubing all the while not contaminating it. i have no idea how I did it, but, I did. I was then sent to assist a resident who was suturing a black man's head. I was in shock. I remember standing there, I may have helped the doctor, I probably did whatever he asked, but, I was horrified. As I stood there, I realized the doctor did not use anesthesia on the man's head. He was crying out and I was holding his hand, but, the doctor kept sewing. When the doctor finished with this poor man's head, he was going to suture his ear. It was cut very badly. The man started begging the doctor not to, to just leave it. He could not take the pain of having the ear sutured without deadening his ear! I think I was about to faint myself. The doctor said he would give him the deadening. I cannot imagine this happening today. I would like to think there are no longer people who think like that resident. We have come a long way. Thankfully.....

8 comments:

Tabor said...

I wonder if the man had been white would the doctor have been more empathetic? I see and hear about the horrible things done to women in the middle east and realize they still have a long way to come. Some societies still live in the dark ages. What a strong woman that time has made you.

One Woman's Journey said...

Oh I cringe with what you just shared. How awful. I know with the digging on my thumbnail yesterday and two shots to deaden - could not have taken the pain without the shots.
Like Tabor said - these incidents are what helped make you strong.

Lathan, Lauren, Logan, London said...

Wow...I can't even imagine :(

Pranavam Ravikumar a.k.a. Kochuravi said...

Here for the first time. Enjoyed your posts. Have a nice day!

Pranavam Ravikumar a.k.a. Kochuravi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah Carr said...

I'm wondering what lifted this memory into your present days? What brought it to mind with such vivid detail? I can hear the panic, the commotion, the cries.

Beverly said...

@ Deborah....I have thought about it for years...I would never write about it while I was still working. The main reason was it was the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr and we remember it here in Memphis.

Darlene said...

Prejudice is so ugly. I saw it when I was young and remember the terrible things done to the black people before, and during, the Civil Rights movement. It is still shocking to think a doctor would lack professionalism and let his prejudice cause him to be so cruel.