Thursday, June 12, 2014

Phoebe Pember

Phoebe Pember
  Phoebe Pember was the administrator of Richmond's Chimborazo hospital during the Civil War. In her memoirs she tells about a young patient named Fisher. He was a Confederate soldier who everyone had become very attached to. Fisher had been convalescing from a serious hip wound for the past ten months and everyone was impressed by his cheerfulness and positive attitude. The night following Fisher's first successful walk on his own from one ward to another he screamed out in pain after turning over in bed. Blood began spurting with each heart beat from the wound in his hip. A splintered bone had cut an artery. Phoebe stopped the blood flow by pressing her finger on the artery. She sent for the surgeon who grimly concluded that nothing could be done because the artery was too deeply embedded in the flesh. The following is her personal account of the incident. "When informed of the hopelessness of his plight the young man gave the matron his mother's address and then asked: "How long can I live?" "Only as long as I keep my finger upon this artery". A silence followed. Fisher said, "You can let go---" Phoebe said in her memoirs, "But I could not", Not if my own life had trembled in the balance. Hot tears rushed to my eyes, a surging sound to my ears, and a deathly coldness to my lips" The pang of obeying him was spared me, and for the first and last time during the trials that surrounded me for four years, I fainted away."

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