Sand and Sutures – Chapter One

Woohoo!  I’m celebrating because I have finally finished all revisions and editing for my second book, Sand and Sutures.  This book is a continuation of the first one and takes my characters through their residency.  Here’s a preview.  Hope you enjoy.  (Copyright L.M. Nelson 2016)


Chapter 1

The Maternity Ward of University of Washington Medical Center overflowed with patients.  Unoccupied delivery rooms were scarce.  Nurses, patient technicians, and doctors frantically bounced around from one room to another attempting to dodge the chaos and tremendous influx of people who seemed to swarm the ward today.

Dr. Randal Hanson flipped through yet another patient chart, trying to comprehend the information in front of him.  He hadn’t had a cup of coffee all day and his energy tank was quickly depleting.  “Who opened the flood gate?” he said to one of the on-duty nurses.  “Did every single pregnant woman in Seattle go into labor today?”

The nurse gave a bemused smile.  “I don’t know, Doctor.  But the patient in room 213 is crowning.”

“Who’s her doctor?”

“Dr. Jamison, but he’s on vacation this week.”

“Who’s covering for him?”

“Dr. Drexol, but he’s not available right now because he’s busy with the patient in room 220.”

With a heavy sigh, Dr. Hanson put the chart back and headed to room 213.  When he walked into the delivery room, a young woman gripped her hands into her bulging abdomen and pulled her knees up to her chest.  Her facial muscles tensed, her teeth clenched, and she screamed in excruciating pain.

The nurse glanced up at the clock on the wall, turned her eyes to the doctor briefly, then focused on the clock again.  “Dr. Hanson.  Thank goodness you’re here.”

Calmly, Dr. Hanson headed over to the sink to wash his hands.  “How’s she doing?”

“Baby’s head has crowned.”

He pulled a couple of paper towels from the dispenser, dried his hands, then turned the water off.  Being a first-year resident doctor, Randy Hanson held a medical degree but could only practice medicine under the supervision of a fully licensed physician. Fully understanding that the attending physician in charge was ultimately held accountable for anything that happened in that delivery room, Randy asked, “Has Dr. Drexol been notified?”

“Yes, Doctor.  He said to get started and he’d be in as soon as he could.”

Randy tossed the damp paper towels in the trashcan and slipped on a pair of latex gloves.  While the nurse filled him in on vitals and other pertinent information, he took position at the end of the hospital bed, helped the patient slide her feet into the stirrups, and prepared to deliver this baby.  “Alright, go ahead and have her push.”

With the nurse assisting the patient, who had no labor coach of her own, Randy monitored the delivery to ensure that nothing went wrong.

Five minutes into the pushing process, Dr. Drexol shuffled into the room.  “How’s it going in here?”  He picked up the patient’s file to check her stats then peered over Randy’s shoulder.  “Looks like you have things under control.”  He scrubbed up, slipped on latex gloves, and stood behind Dr. Hanson, looking on while he continued to make the delivery.

Pushing proceeded for another ten minutes before the baby made his grand appearance.  Several loud cries followed, as well as tears from the mother when Randy placed the baby on her chest.

“Nice job, Dr. Hanson,” Dr. Drexol told his protégé.  “Your father would be proud.”

“Thank you.”  Randy’s father was a local obstetrician with an impeccable reputation in the Seattle metropolitan area.  Once his residency training was complete, Randy planned to fulfill a lifelong dream of joining his father’s private practice.

“How is your dad anyway?  I haven’t spoken to him in a while.”

“He’s doing well.”  Randy removed his latex gloves and threw them in the hazardous waste bin.  “Stays pretty busy with his practice.”

“Does he still fish?”

“Yes he does.  In fact he and I went fishing last weekend.”

“Give my regards to your father for me.  He’s a great man.”

“Will do, Doctor.  Thank you.”

“I have a scheduled Cesarean this afternoon and I’d like you to assist me in the OR.”

The first time Randy met Dr. William Drexol was during his residency interview.  He was one of UW’s upper division clinical teaching physicians.  Not only was he a wonderful mentor, he was also one of the few physicians who did his best to get to know his mentees on a personal level.

“Put on some fresh scrubs and meet me in the prep room in fifteen minutes,” Dr. Drexol instructed.

“Yes, Sir.”

Randy reported to the physician’s locker room.  As far as hospital locker rooms went, this one was pretty comfortable.  Each white locker, labeled with a physician’s name, had a small storage compartment underneath.  In the corner was a large cabinet, which held several pairs of scrubs folded neatly and sorted by size.  A comfortable white oak futon gave physicians a place to take a load off, and two windows allowed natural light to enter the room.  Overhead, florescent lamps brightened up the area and several green potted plants added a spark of color.  The facility was well-organized and clean.  This hospital treated its doctors well.

Randy opened a drawer full of blue disposable non-skid surgical shoe covers.  He pulled out a pair and slipped them over his loafers.  He locked up his belongings, put on his hospital photo ID badge, which also served as a controlled access card and gave him access to the Pneumatic Tube System, and headed to the OR to scrub up.

The main entrance of the University of Washington Medical Center displayed framed photos and informational plaques of all the attending physicians and resident doctors affiliated with the hospital.  Randy’s photograph hung among them—J. Randal Hanson, M.D.  

Even though Randy walked past this wall daily, he still beamed every time he saw the letters M.D. after his name.  The process of getting his medical education had been grueling, with long hours, arduous classes, obnoxious and demeaning physicians and residents, and exhausting tests.  For him, even with the difficulties, that journey had been worth it—every long hour, every second of humiliation he was subjected to, every minute of stress.  He was a physician now, an obstetrician/gynecologist, and he was ready to take the next step—that long four-year residency.

After a long day of hospital rounds, performing multiple deliveries, pelvic exams, and surgical procedures, Randy went back to the lab to process some samples for testing.  Feeling antsy, he glanced at his watch every ten minutes.

A colleague of his questioned his restlessness.  “Anxious to get home, Dr. Hanson?”

“I’m looking forward to this weekend so I can spend some time with my wife.” Randy and his wife had recently relocated from San Francisco to the Seattle area.  They were finally settled into their new home, but now that she was in grad school and Randy was working an average of 60-70 hours per week, adjusting to their new schedules had proven to be a bit challenging.

“How long you been married?”

“About three months.”

“Still newlyweds.  Congratulations.”  He shook Randy’s hand.  “I’m Greg Hutchins, second year resident.  I’ve heard about you, but we haven’t officially met.  Welcome to the UW Residency Program.”

“Thank you.”

“What’s your wife’s name?”


“What does she do?”

“She’s in grad school, studying psychology.”  Randy checked the time again.  This day seemed to be dragging endlessly.

Randy’s watch had the Lakers logo on it, which instantly piqued Greg’s curiosity.  “Are you a Lakers fan?”


“So am I.  Maybe we can catch a game together sometime.”

“That would be great.”  Wanting to learn more about this doctor, Randy asked, “You married?”

Greg blew off this question as if it had little importance in life.  “Nah.”

“Have a girlfriend?”

“Nope.  Not looking for one either.”

Greg’s tone was a bit hostile.  Randy was drawn back by this, wondering why this man was so openly negative.

“My bitch of an ex cleaned out my bank account, stole a bunch of my shit, and left,” Greg snarled.

Well, that explained the hostility.  “Ouch.  Damn, that sucks.”

“Yeah, well, shit happens.”

A young medical student stepped into the lab, interrupting their conversation.  “Excuse me, Dr. Hanson?”

Randy turned his head.  “Yes?”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but there’s a woman in the waiting room asking for you.  She claims to be your wife.”

Randy said, “Is she 5’7” with long brown hair, green eyes, and an amazing smile?”

The medical student nodded.  “That would be the one.”

“Yes, that’s my wife.”  He dropped what he was doing and went out to greet her.

Curiosity led Greg to follow him.

With a wide grin, Randy ambled over to Jane.  “Hey, Babe.  What are you doing here?”

“I left you a text.  You didn’t get it?”

“Been busy,” he admitted.  “Haven’t checked my messages in a while.  What’s up?”

“Aren’t you off in twenty minutes?”

“If I get this lab report done I am.  Why?”

“Because I thought we might go out for Chinese food tonight.”

“Alright,” he said cheerfully.  “Give me a minute to finish this.  You can wait out here if you want.”

Randy left Jane in the waiting room while he went back to the lab to finish his report.

“That’s your wife?” Greg asked.


Greg turned his head and glanced at Jane once more.  “Wow.  Beautiful.”

“I think so.”

As soon as Randy finished his report, he grabbed his belongings and reported to the medical student he was working with.  “Mr. Allen.”

The medical student turned around.  “Yes, Sir?”

“Thank you for your help today.  When you get a chance Monday morning, check on the lab results and let me know if you find anything unusual.”

“Absolutely, Doctor.”

“Have a good weekend, and try to get some rest.”

The medical student replied, “Thank you, Sir.  You too.”

Randy swore he would not be the condescending ass so many residents he encountered in medical school seemed to be.  He made every effort to be courteous and kind, and because of this, the UW medical students floating around the hospital liked him.  As a mentor, Dr. Hanson was well-known for his kind, helpful attitude and friendly personality.  He was very understanding and tried to guide the medical students, not put them on the spot.  The attending physicians and other residents found him knowledgeable and hardworking.  He was thorough in his reports and clear and concise during Grand Round presentations.  He quickly became popular in the OB/GYN professional ranks.

One thought on “Sand and Sutures – Chapter One

  1. Pingback: Sand and Sutures – lmnelsonscorner

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