All the feels

I met a man who I’ll never forget. He stopped me in the hallway to tell me how scared he was. He hated coming in, hated the word cardiology, hated the word echo. Hated my scrubs. He was over six feet of raw emotions carrying his new baby.
I explained the test in the hallway because he wouldn’t step foot in the echolab. I asked if his wife had an ultrasound when she was pregnant – the easiest thing I could think of to compare an echocardiogram- and he said, “Of course, all women do.”
I said I didn’t. He looked at me sideways. I said, “Thirty two years ago they didn’t do them as often.”
He said, “Shiiiiit! Thirty two years ago? What are you, some kind of superhero?” In a thick Arabic accent.
He was all over the place, funny, sweet, sad while his wife listened quietly and he translated everything to her.
We finally got started and he stood over my shoulder, watching his baby’s heart on the screen like a hawk.
They got some not so happy news and I was worried about them, but we had a full schedule. I met four other families before lunch.

I saw them later as they were waiting on their car. I was walking back from the cafeteria next door and my stomach dropped when I saw that they’d both been crying. I was smiling – it was a beautiful sunny day and I was glad to get a chance to walk in the sunshine, which was rare.
I felt instantly guilty.
He turned to me and shook his head.
Then he offered me a cookie.
I froze, I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting questions or accusations – sometimes parents blame the tech, or the room. It’s weird, but it happens. I was expecting, “How can you possibly be happy after knowing that my baby will have surgery? What’s wrong with you?”
Actually, part of the reason I felt so happy that day, was that I’d made the decision to quit cardiac ultrasound. I had struggled with the roller coaster of emotions for sixteen years. I’d just recently lost a patient that was like a niece to me, her parents were more like family than friends. I decided I’d had my fill of heartache, even though there were so many good stories I had never been able to keep the “job” separate.
It was never just a job to me.

He pushed the cookie towards me again, so I took it.
He said, “Thank you.”

I nodded, but couldn’t say anything or I would have started crying. I patted his wife’s shoulder and he said, “We’ll see you again, I hope.”
Life. All the feels.


  1. Sad but beautiful. What a woman of gold you are. It’s staff like you that make such a difference to patients lives, and I cherish the amazing nurses and medicos we’ve crossed paths with during my daughter’s mental health issues. The best do it out of love for people and the job, but I can imagine it would be incredibly taxing. Time for you now xx

  2. I know that the universe has a way of placing us where we are supposed to be at any moment. And that it isn’t random. You were the exact person (angel in disguise) to help that couple and their child. This new adventure finds you exactly where you are supposed to be and I can’t wait to hear how you will impact the lives of those around you!

  3. Literally, “all the feels” from me. ❤ I remember how it felt finding out Josie had CHD and the blame toward the doctor and technician that flooded my own heart and mind with that news. My world felt like it was crashing down on top of me. Meanwhile they just delivered awful news and continue to go about their life.
    It’s a natural, human reaction to feel that way. I’m over it at this point, but I’ll never forget it.
    The parents are too overwhelmed to even think any more about how the results affect the tech.
    But you Mandy, you’re a feeler with a big heart and were the perfect girl for the job.
    I’m sure every tech feels something.
    Some of us just show how we feel in different ways or it’s just too much to show how we really feel.

    1. It was a crazy job. The excitement you felt when you knew that you found the problem was immediately squashed when it hit you that the parents and the patients were about to find out that there WAS a problem. Our doctors and surgeons are amazing, and I’ve witnessed some great things – but the first time they have to give someone bad news is hard. They usually got the bad news from us, or we confirmed it. I could never get past that.

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