Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Drumroll Please....My 1st Story

Okay, here it is.....the first story I wrote for my creative writing class.  

The room was quiet but for the soft hum of machines.  The quiet whoosh of the respirator giving breaths is a peaceful sound.  So is the steady beeping of the monitor….the steady beating of a heart.  In my many years as a respiratory therapist I had become almost immune to these noises.  I hardly heard them anymore and the hum filled me with calm.  Things were good when the sounds were peaceful and steady.  The early morning sun is creeping through the blinds indicating the freshness of a new day.  I buttoned the front of my lab coat shutting out the cold blast from the room’s air conditioner.  Hospitals tend to be kept cold for several reasons.  It cuts down on bacteria growth as well as makes it easier for people to breathe.  I think the cool temperatures lend to the calming effect.  It reminds me of the quiet peacefulness after the first snow of the year.   In the early mornings like these I feel that there is order to the universe and I am in control.  I love this about my job.  It’s the one place that I feel capable.  I feel in control.  
A voice startled me out of my calm.  I turned my head to see Mrs. Roberts, the wife of my patient, hope apparent in her eyes.  She’d asked how her husband was doing.  I told her that he was stable.  No better no worse.  This was the part I hated.  I couldn't bear to either crush her hopes or give her false ones.  She’d been coming to sit with her husband every day since the accident that put him here in my ICU.  She would sit by his side and read quietly, her presence a comfort only to her for as far as I could tell her husband hadn’t opened his eyes since being brought into the emergency room.  There had been a terrible car accident.  It had been lightly raining that morning as her husband had been driving to work.  A large truck was trying to beat the stoplight and with the roads being slick couldn’t stop in time.  He barreled into Mr. Roberts’ sedan.  He had literally been hit by a Mack truck.  The entire driver’s side had been smashed in and he’d needed to be cut out of the car.  He’d been rushed here where it was discovered that he had a fractured pelvis, several broken ribs, and a severe head injury resulting in brain damage.  With most of his injuries being internal, he looked pretty good.  Only a few lacerations and bruises were visible.  One would never guess how grave the situation really was.  To his wife and family, it probably looked like he was merely sleeping.  Well, sleeping with several tubes connected to him.  Only I, along with the doctor and nurse, knew better.  The doctors and nurses had spent the last several days trying to convince the family just how irreversible the damage really was.  There was no brain activity.  The doctors wanted to withdraw the respirator.  The family refused.  They still didn’t understand.  You see, they were still hoping for a miracle.  I was kind of hoping for one myself. 
He was a young man, only in his forty’s.  It is always heartbreaking to see injuries this severe in younger people.  It never seems fair.  Yesterday his wife brought in their children.  Their daughter was twelve years old.  She was curious about the machines and threw questions at anyone who came into the room…a nurse in the making.  Occasionally she would squeeze her mother’s hand reassuringly, as if the roles had been reversed and she was the parent.  Her brother, a much younger version of his father, stood wide eyed and silent at the foot of the bed.  At eight years old, I couldn’t tell if he truly understood all that was happening.  All I knew was that their lives would never be the same.  I couldn’t imagine losing a parent that early in life.  It would completely change their lives.
The end of my shift was nearing.  My rounds were finished.  Each patient was taken care of and comfortable in their room preparing for the arrival of their bad hospital food.  While nutritious, hospital food is usually far from gourmet.  I myself was thinking about my upcoming dinner and what I would be preparing once I got home.  I was sitting at a computer just outside the ICU’s doors finishing up my day’s charting, but my mind was wandering.  I was trying to visualize the contents of my refrigerator and hopefully come up with something creative and edible.  Suddenly I heard the noise that all therapists dread…especially at the end of their shift.  Code Blue ICU.   I rushed into the ICU and into Mr. Roberts’ room.  His heart had finally stopped.  The calm was shattered.  The room was filled with frantic voices.  The loud ding of the monitor alarms indicating asystole had everyone moving rapidly and efficiently.  Everyone here had done this many times before.  I heard the loud clang of the crash cart being shoved into the room and rummaged through.  At the head of the bed another therapist had taken him off the respirator and was pushing air into his lungs with an ambu bag.  I began chest compressions.  I felt the cracking of already fragile ribs beneath my hands.  The muscles in my arms screamed as I tried to force his heart to beat again.  The nurses pushed injections of life saving medications through the IV‘s.  I continued to pump away, beads of sweat gathering on my forehead from both the exertion and the body heat of the many people surrounding the bed.  I tried to regain the control that had so easily slipped away.  With all that we could to in medicine, we should be able to save more people.  For some, their time is simply up no matter what we do.  In this job I’ve come to believe in a higher power.  There was a higher power at work today.  Mr. Robert’s heart started to beat again.  His blood pressure was extremely low and without a doubt he would code again and soon.  But this time his family would have a chance to say their goodbyes.  I placed him back on the respirator.  Calm was once again restored to the room.
Mrs. Roberts and the children came in from the waiting room.  Their red rimmed eyes told me that the doctor had finally managed to convince them of the gravity of the situation.  She had finally signed the Do Not Resuscitate orders.  The children, led by their grandmother, solemnly told their father that they loved him and said their tearful goodbyes.  They left the room, their quiet sobs tearing at my heart.  Mrs. Roberts stayed at her husband’s side.  She sat in the chair next to his bed and held his hand.   “It’s okay to go” she whispered in his ear.   In order to give them more privacy, I left the room.  Shortly after, so did he.

8 comments:

Brandi said...

Very good!!!! You will definetly get an A++++!!

JackeeG4glamorous said...

woaaaaaa

Lisa said...

Well done, Sarah! I hope your prof gave you an A!

Carbon Based said...

Bravo, well done.

Mimi's Toes said...

Oh my gosh, this was a great 1st story. You get an A +++++ from me. You are a great writer. I was so into this, then it ended and so perfectly.

Lisa said...

Hey Sarah,
To answer your question on my blog, they have to play in every area of the classroom. They get a center "buddy" for the week, and each day they play in a different center. At this point in the year I have a lot of complaining, but in a month or two kids who would have never picked up a paint brush will enjoy the art center, and kids who would never build with blocks are creating all sorts of towers and roadways. It also helps them to learn to play with all the other kids not just their BF. I always tell them if they don't like the center they are assigned to today, it's ok, you'll be in a different one tomorrow. Long answer, huh?

My Wonderful Men said...

I think it's great you did a story about your job. It was well done.
Writing about what you are love doing is best and you can tell you are good at what you do.

My Wonderful Men said...

Sorry for the extra "are" in my comment. I can't go back and edit so it has to stay.