A Short Story
The call light at the far end of the dimly lit hallway lights up for the third time.
“I’m in pain!” Mrs. Kane screams out.
Tara takes a deep breath. If only Mrs. Kane knew that it took all of the staff on the unit to lift Mr. Elliot back into his bed after he pulled a Hoodini with his restraints, climbed over the side rails, landed on the floor-fracturing his hip. Tara unlocks the med cart and pours two pain pills into a paper for Mrs. Kane. From the corner of her eye she notices the glow of the sun creeping above the hill outside the window.
“Does anybody care that I’m in pain?” Mrs. Kane shouts, louder this time.
Tara locks the med drawer as she reminds herself that her shift is nearly over, then she heads down the hall to finally relieve Mrs. Kane of her pain. Halfway down the hall, the trickling sound of water stops her. Her head turns slowly from side to side, attempting to zero in on the source of the unwelcome sound. She leans closer towards the door of room 417.
Ugg, someone must have left the sink on, she thinks as she enters the room. A pair of eyeballs, open so wide that they might fall out, stops her in her tracks. She looks up from the gaunt man, with thinning black hair, clinging to his side rails, at the ceiling. Blood erupting from his femoral vein like a geyser bounces off the ceiling creating a red rainstorm.
Tara stuffs the pain med in the pocket of her scrubs, grabs a towel and lunges to the man’s side. With both hands she smothers the artery and screams for help.
“Am I going to die?” the man asks, his voice trembling.
“Not if I can help it,” she responds firmly and stares him down.
Within minutes the two are in the center of a swarm of medical staff that are shouting instructions and simultaneously working their magic as they whisk the man to the O.R.
Tara leaves her shift and heads home not knowing if the man, who wasn’t even her assigned patient, lives or dies. She’s also pretty sure Mrs. Kane will file a complaint against her since it took so long to get to her.
She enters her front door and finds her husband and son eating cereal together.
“Have a good night?” her husband asks.
Tara looks at her son, smiles, “ I made it through.” She runs her fingers through her son’s sandy blond hair in an attempt to disguise the bedhead effect.
“We’ve got to go, buddy,” her husband cheers when he sees the time. They gather their bags for work and school, give her a quick kiss and a hug around the waist, then fly out the front door.
Tara knows what she needs is sleep. She has seven hours between now and when her son’s school bus drops him off. Then homework, soccer practice, ship up dinner and back to the hospital for another twelve-hour shift. Her mind and body play tug-a-war; sleep, no keep moving! She paces the kitchen, washes the cereal bowls and hand dries them slowly. She takes the damp dishcloth and wipes down the counter top. Along the way a box of donuts, already missing two, catches her attention. The voice inside her says, have a couple of eggs and toast. The devil on her shoulder disagrees, no, the donuts will taste so much better. She breaks off a piece, slips it into her mouth and feels the hardened, sweet, sugary glaze melt on her tongue. Before she knows it, she’s eaten half the box, downs a glass of milk, and feels the sugar coma begin to take over. She makes it to the couch, kicks off her shoes, snuggles into the fleece throw blanket and lets go.
Cautiously, Tara scans the patient list, looking for the man’s name. Much to her surprise, and relief, it is there, right next to room 417. Her chest inflates with pride. She walks to the man’s room, peaks in the doorway to find him talking with a woman and two teenage girls. Collectively, they turn and look at her when she knocks on the door.
“There she is, the man announces. “My angel!”
The woman rushes around the bed, grips Tara in a bear hug as she cries, “You’re an angel, an angel! You saved my husband.”
Tara pats her on the back, and then gently encourages her to release her grasp. “Thank you, but I can assure you, I’m no angel. I learned a long time ago that if I take credit for saving your husband, then I will have to take the blame for the patients who don’t make it. I’m thrilled that he is okay.”
What are your perceptions of nurses? If you are a nurse, what are some of your beliefs about your role as a nurse?
When you have a stressful day, what do you do to calm down? Order a pizza, crack open a beer, or do you opt for a walk in the park, go for a swim or a yoga class? We all live with stress around us, how we deal with it can significantly affect our health. We'll continue to look at this topic in future blogs. Feel free to sign up if you like or post any comments below.
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