Publish Novellas 25 August 2021
EPISODE 5 – TEACHING HOLES
Miss Chambers discusses heart chambers with advancing youthful first-semester students.
Detention, April 2010
“Miss Chambers… how long do you think we will have to wait before we know it has worked for sure?” children ask.
“Shhhh! Keep your voice down!” Evelyn Chambers says as she looks around nervously to make sure that no one has heard their conversation so far.
“We should know if he is getting better in a few weeks. But recovery is rarely a straight path!” she says as she steers Nicole and Emilia into the detention room.
Everyone else is already seated and seems to have the same question on their faces.
Evelyn steps in front of them and says calmly “We have administered the medicine. But as I said, the theory is that the gallbladder should heal itself by pushing out the blockage and recovering from prior damage. However, we cannot raise our hopes too high.”
Today, we have a new patient. Let’s begin the class by teaching you about the part of the body that needs healing. Who is ready?” asks the instructor.
The kids jump and clap. Evelyn smiles at their excitement. As much as she wants to tell them once again to keep it down, she is getting into it herself.
“In a prior class, I mentioned a device in the body that pumps blood through the body, what is it called?” she asks.
“The heart,” the kids chorus.
“Well… today, we have a patient with a bad heart. And we are going to discuss how to help them get better!” she says while hanging the heart poster.
“Has anyone ever heard of the Atrial Septal Defects?” she asks.
The kids look around and someone says, “Abria step up what?”
Evelyn laughs and shakes her head before continuing. “Atrial Septal Defect. It is when a child is born with a hole in the wall that divides the upper parts of their heart. It can lead to failure to thrive, shortness of breath, and stroke. Sometimes, this hole may close on its own. It could, however, get worse or cause complications if left untreated.”
The room is quiet for a moment.
“I am going to show you the pictures of the heart on this poster now,” she says. The kids crowd around her as she continues. “The ventricles and chambers…”
Peter giggles and says, “Chambers, like your name.”
Tanya, a bubbly 12-year-old asks, “Can a person die from a hole in the heart?”
“Maybe not right away, Tanya. But it could happen after a while.” The room is quiet again as Evelyn elaborates on the heart defect, using the poster as a guide. She is, however, not prepared for the next question.
“Miss Chambers, we have heard that you have a doctorate,” Tanya interjects again.
“Yes, that’s true, Tanya,” Evelyn Chambers answers.
“You could work anywhere… Why are you a teacher here?”
Evelyn freezes. She hasn’t been asked that question before. So she has never really thought about an answer. “Are you kidding? I’m here because I like hanging with you crazy guys so much,” she replies. The kids giggle. She laughs too, while silently hoping that this is the end of the conversation.
Redirecting the conversation, Evelyn asks, “What is our strategy for treating atrial septal defects?”
No hands go up and Evelyn isn’t surprised. She realizes that the chances that they know what she is talking about are slim. Even Daniel whose brother has the defect can’t really say much about it.
“Well, we are going to make mixtures of familiar herbs with new ones from Asia. This of course will not fix the heart overnight. With regular use, however, we have high hopes that our patient will make a full recovery. I will give some of you assignments and herbs to find.”
The idea seems good to the students. Their murmurs and claps of excitement tell her that they are ready for what she intends for them.
“Miss Chambers…” It is Nicole again.
“You still haven’t told us why you chose to teach us, instead of having a fancy career somewhere,” Nicole persists.
Evelyn sighs. As much as she has tried to forget the things that make her feel the way she feels at that moment, she knows she has lost the battle for that day.
“I'll tell you someday, Nicole. For now, we need to focus on getting a heart to a normal state again.” But Nicole’s question derails her thoughts through the end of the session that day.
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