Over the next few months I’m going to share with you one of my new books – The Road to Salvation. I am going to post a chapter a week like Charles Dickens did in times gone by. I hope you enjoy the journey and look forward to reading each chapter as it appears. The Road to Salvation is the story of four lost souls who through awful tragedy find a deeper meaning of life. Whether you follow an organised religion, a Spiritual path or your own moral code, I hope you will see and appreciate the journey my characters take to a fuller and more satisfying existence. Your comments as we go would be greatly appreciated.
I’m going to start with LUCY.
The Road to Salvation
As Dr Lucy Soames poured boiling hot water into her large mug she knew four cups of strong black coffee in under an hour would be no good for her health, but it was the only way she could ensure remaining awake for the remainder of her eighteen hour shift. She was under the misapprehension that once she secured the promotion to senior registrar in General Surgery her hours would reduce. Sadly, with the shortage of doctors in her field, they had increased and rarely did she do anything less than a twelve hour shift.
‘Not another coffee, Lucy! Don’t you get palpitations drinking so much?’ asked Drake a fellow surgeon, also taking a well earned break in the staff lounge.
‘Yes, but it’s the only thing that works. I don’t like the cold caffeine drinks, they’re too sickly,’ Lucy replied, sipping the treacly mixture.
‘What time are you off?’ he asked.
‘I’ve got a couple more wards to visit now and then I can sleep in the on-call room for a few hours.’
‘What, you’re on again in the morning?’
‘Yes, I’ve got a bowel resection before breakfast! Just what I need to set me up for my Weetabix,’ she said, smiling. ‘How about you?’
‘I finish tonight for a week. I’m going home to see my parents.’
‘Good for you! I haven’t got any time booked off until we appoint a new consultant.’
‘Poor you. There’s no rest for the wicked! Isn’t that how the saying goes?’ Drake teased.
‘In that case I must be very bad.’ Lucy looked at her watch and drained the remains of her coffee. ‘I‘d better be off on my rounds. If I don’t see you before you go, have a lovely time.’
‘I will thanks. Don’t work too hard,’ he added. Lucy walked away giving him the finger. All she had to do was turn round and she would have seen the look of longing smeared all over Drake’s face but Lucy never looked back – she had far too much work to do.
Her first port of call was the Women’s Surgical ward. In the first room on the right was one of her favourite patients – Mrs Edna Beaumont, a sixty five year old lady with Crohn’s disease. She’d been attending St.Luke’s for over five years for various operations and it was her bowel resection Lucy was performing the following morning.
‘Hello, Mrs Beaumont,’ Lucy said cheerily.
‘Evening doctor. I do wish you’d call me Edna. You’ve known me for so long, you seem like part of my family.’
‘You also know, I’m not supposed to.’ Lucy chided. ‘But okay, seeing as it’s you. Are you ready for tomorrow, Edna?’
‘As I’ll ever be, but this helps,’ Mrs Beaumont said, pointing to the well-worn copy of the Holy Bible in her hands.
‘As long as you find comfort somewhere that’s all that matters.’ Lucy picked up her notes and examined them.
‘Do I take it from that comment, you don’t read the bible?’
‘No, I don’t. I haven’t read it since I was made to go to Sunday school as a child but I even stopped that when I was eleven when my parents gave me a choice.’
‘Don’t you have a faith?’
‘Only in myself. I’m a scientist and tend to believe in things I can see and sadly no-one has seen God and come back to tell us what he’s like.’
‘I hadn’t put you down as a sceptic.’ Mrs Beaumont tutted. ‘There are so many things we can’t see that exist. Surely you believe in love and you can’t see that.’
‘True, but I see so much doing my job that if there was a God, why would he let all the bad things happen?’
‘Ah! You’re one of those that believes all evil in the world is God’s fault. Where does personal responsibility come into your world?’
Lucy looked up from her notes. ‘I’m sorry Mrs Beaumont, as much as I’d love to stand here and discuss comparative religion with you, I really must get on.’
‘I’m sorry, doctor, for holding you up but I’m sure believing in God would help you in your job, not hinder you.’
‘You’re probably right. My mum and dad still go to Church and whenever I’m at home they try to persuade me to go with them but I’m not convinced.’
‘You don’t know what you’re missing! But I’ll shut up now. That’s enough preaching for one night. What time’s my operation in the morning?’
‘Theatre’s booked for nine. By dinnertime tomorrow you should be sitting up in bed with it all over.’
‘I hope so. I’ve been praying that this is my last operation. I don’t want to go through it all again. So, I’ll either be sitting here like you said or you’ll be visiting me in the morgue!’
‘Edna! Don’t say things like that. I’ve told you before it should be routine. I’ve done so many operations like this before, it’ll be like a walk in the park.’
Mrs Beaumont reached for Lucy’s hand and said, ‘Thank you, doctor. You make all the pain bearable,’ she squeezed it tight.
‘It’s my pleasure. Patients like you are the reason I love my job.’ Lucy carefully removed her hand from the grip. ‘But I really must be going. Even I need a few hours sleep and I’ve got another ward to visit after this one.’
‘Then, I won’t keep you a second longer. Good night doctor and God bless!’
‘Goodnight,’ Lucy closed the door behind her. She smiled. Whenever she visited Edna Beaumont, she was reading her bible. What it must be like to have such faith, Lucy thought as she moved onto the main part of the ward.
The few hours sleep never materialised for Lucy, as a child with a ruptured appendix was admitted at two o’clock in the morning. Lucy was the surgeon on-call so it fell to her to perform the emergency surgery. It was five o’clock before she finished and saw no point in lying down for an hour. Another cup of strong black coffee would have to suffice.