Day one. What to do with Blake??

After dressing the mangled toe, I cleaned up the foot bath and set out the medications for after dinner. I locked the health station door and went up the stairs to the main office. I found Father Brian in there this time.

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Father Brian was in his late forties, starting to grey at the temples. He had been a Jesuit priest for about ten years before he was given the role of director of Camp Acorn. He had been in the position for five years now, spending most of his summer up at the camp. During the school year he taught religious studies at the university in the city. At camp you could find him fixing a faucet, in the kitchen frying bacon for breakfast, or assisting the maintenance crew in repairing the dock. He was a man of all trades. That day I found him dressed in a white t-shirt and khaki shorts. He wore a brown belt upon which was attached the master key set. He wore Birkenstock sandals without socks (cuz he was cool like that). He insisted upon being called just ‘Brian’.

“Hey Anne. What can I do you for?” Brian asked as he looked up from his work.

“Well…I wanted to talk to you about Blake in the Rock hut. He is gonna keep me up at night with worry.” With that Brian put down his pen, sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.

“Ah yes. Bill had mentioned that the young fella was having a hard time of it. Did he come to see you again?” I nodded with a chagrined looked.

“Oh yes. He did come to see me. I am pretty concerned since he has had very little to eat. He is drinking, so that is good. I think he has his mind set. He wants to go home.”

“Sure sounds like it.” Brian agreed, rocking back on his chair and looking thoughtful.

“I am kinda at a loss here. I am not really sure what I can do for the kid. I’m an ICU nurse, not a child psychiatrist!”

“Oh, don’t worry about that!” Brian waved the thought off. “I will call his parents right now and get some information from them. We will see what we can find out. Then I will sit down with Blake and his counselors and find out how we can try to help him. We’ll take it from here. Not to worry. We deal with this kind of thing all the time.”

“Really? You do?” I breathed a sigh or relief. 

“Oh ya. Parents think it is a great idea to send a kid off to camp even if they have to push him onto the bus kicking and screaming. Camp is not for everyone, that is for sure.”

“So will you send him home?”

“Not necessarily. We try to come to some kind of compromise, but it doesn’t always work out.” He said with a shrug. He got up from the chair and walked over to a large filing cabinet and pulled open the top drawer. He pulled out a file folder marked “Rock hut” and thumbed through it until he found Blake’s file. “I’ll take it from here Anne. Go get your kids and enjoy the afternoon weather.”

“Thanks so much Brian. I appreciate it.” I said as I got up to leave.

“Are you and the children enjoying camp so far?” Brian asked as I started toward the office door.  I stopped and turned around.

“Yes! We are. Camp, as you say, is not for everyone, but I think that we are finding that it is for us.”

“Good. I am glad.” Brian beamed. “We are so very thankful to have you here.” Brian said as he sat back down with Blake’s file.

“Oh! Well…you are quite welcome.” I said, feeling a blush heat up my face. I was unprepared for that and I turned to leave feeling quite high, actually. 

Thankful to have me. My goodness! I tried to remember the last time someone had said that they were thankful to have me. As a mother, I suppose, you are taken for granted. No kid ever said, “Hey Mum! Thanks for changing my poopy pants!” Sure, I made my kids say ‘thank you’ when I served them a meal, or bought them a treat, but that is different. You know it when they take your hand, or give you a hug, I suppose. 

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My mother, a physiotherapist, who worked in a small outpatient clinic, was constantly bringing home cookies, a dozen donuts, Ferrero Rocher chocolates (my personal faves), and once a baked salmon! Her patients were so thankful for her skills and her amazing massages as she helped them recover from injuries or surgeries.

As a nurse in the ICU it is rare that you would have a patient alert enough to ever say ‘thank you’. The best you could hope for there is perhaps a look, or maybe a squeeze of the hand. The families might thank us for our care but it was rare to ever receive donuts! Usually by the time the patient was ready to leave the ICU, the last thing the family would want would be to revisit the ICU, a place heavily laden with so many painful memories of the roller coaster ride that is an intensive care unit admission.

In all my years of ICU nursing I have only had one patient return after his rehabilitation. It was bittersweet and odd. He, of course, did not recognize me at all, even though we had several meaningful conversations and I had cared for him for several shifts. His entire memory of the ICU was a fog. I, at first, did not recognize him in his wheelchair until I noticed his missing arm. He was a young man who was a paraplegic and had fallen while attempting to get up from the toilet and had gotten his left arm caught in the wall mounted safety railing. He lay there for over a day and ended up losing his arm and almost losing his life! His sister had brought him down to the ICU on the day of his discharge to show him where he had spent almost three weeks. After getting an update on his plans for home, I gave him a warm smile, squeezed his hand and wished him the best in the rest of his recovery. His sister, knowing what had transpired, caught me by the hand before I left and gave me a tight hug. Through her tears she thanked me. I’m not gonna lie. That was pretty cool. 🙂
  



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