Lost my cool


“Whoa!” Dr. Holmes exclaimed as he wrapped his arm over my shoulder. “No need for tears. We are going to take good care of him. Shhhh.”

I unzipped my back pack and found some tissues to wipe my eyes. I loudly blew my nose as I apologized profusely.

Incapable of holding it together!

“I am so so sorry! I’m not usually like this but that took me by surprise.” I said as I dabbed at my eyes some more. “I was worried about him but I was betting that it was just a matter of me being overly cautious. Geez, I hope he will be OK?” I looked at Dr. Holmes through my tears.

“We are going to watch him in the ICU until we have finished the workup. We will transfer him into the city if we need to. Now you need to dry those eyes, sister! I’m going to take you in to see him and I can’t take you back as a blubbering mess. After your visit you can go back to camp.” Dr. Holmes said as he patted my shoulder. 

“What about Barb?”

“I will call Barb and let her know what is going on.” I nodded as I blew my nose again.

As an ICU nurse I could not tell you the number of times that I had been witness to the ‘worst day’ of peoples lives! I have observed a son as he hovered over his father who was profusely hemorrhaging after a motor vehicle accident, a wife clutching the hand of her husband suffering from a stroke, a mother who watched as we emergently intubated her daughter just diagnosed with leukemia. I would gently rub their back or offer a hand to hold as I explained what the monitors told us or help them decipher the results of the latest test. I certainly empathized with them and did my utmost to be of assistance. I was kind but always professional. But…when it was your friend, and no doubt about it, Bill had become my friend, it was different… It was the whole sympathy versus empathy battle that I had just lost. 

I pulled out another tissue and I gently dabbed my eyes again. I let out a long deep breath and tried to pull myself together. I nodded at Dr. Holmes.

“OK. I think I can do this.” I smiled weakly.

“Follow me.”

Dr. Holmes took me back into the emergency room. He pulled back the curtain of bed five. Bill had a face mask on delivering oxygen. He was hooked up to the cardiac monitor and I couldn’t resist taking a quick peek at it. His heart rate was 130 and his oxygen level was only 90% with the oxygen. Not great. I wondered how low his oxygen level had been as I was driving to the hospital! A nurse was bent over Bill’s left arm getting several tubes of blood and he was watching her intently. 

“Hey Bill!” I said as I ducked in behind the curtain. “Just wanted to say bye before I went back to camp. I hear that you are staying and that they are gonna do some more testing on you today.”

“Ya,” Bill said as he looked up at me and smiled. He reached out his right hand and I took it gently in my two. “I guess I’m going to have a busy day here at the hospital today.”

“I’m gonna make like a baby and head out. I am sure I have some scabby band aids and mosquito bites awaiting me! Is there anything I can do for you before I go?” Bill gently laughed.

“Oh yes! Can you just tell Lydia that I put that order in for the new life jackets. I forgot to mention that to her this morning.”

“Will do.”

“I feel like I could use one of those life jackets right now.”

“I’ll bet you do. But Bill…you are surrounded by life guards here.” I said as I motioned towards Dr. Holmes and the nurse drawing Bill’s blood. The nurse looked up at me and smiled.

Throw me a life line!

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