Here is an excerpt of my novel about the Joplin Tornado, which hopefully will be published soon.
Patients and Patience
White. That was the color of the hospital walls in the room that I was working in. Pure, spotless white. Of course everything in a hospital is supposed to be spotless, clean to keep infection and disease from spreading. We do everything that is necessary to protect our patients here at Freeman, everything that we can to keep our patients comfortable and alive.
I guess this motto had already been brainwashed into me, even though I’m not technically a nurse yet, or it’s just part of my own philosophy. I’m still a busy college student, trying to balance school, work, and a much needed social life. I started interning at the hospital about a year ago.
My patient looked up at me, and gave me a wide, almost toothless smile. He was an elderly man, with a mohawk of skin separating two, white patches of hair. His hands were calloused from years of working in the fields, and they would twitch every minute or so, an early sign of Parkinson’s disease, which he was already being treated for. His name: Sam Scraper, which was written on the clipboard that I held in my hand. He was a kind soul, and one of my first patients that I was able to care for without constant supervision.
“Good evening Mr. Scraper. How are you feeling?” I asked him.
“Pretty good for an old man,” he answered.
The truth was, Mr. Scraper was doing much better than pretty good. His condition at the moment was fantastic compared to his health when he arrived here four days ago. He had suffered from a stroke. His skin had been as white as a ghost, his eyes glazed, and he had no awareness of the world around him. Sure his condition wasn’t perfect yet: his speech was still slurred, he only talked with the left side of his mouth, and he still could not move his right arm, but he was rapidly improving. The remnants of his first, solid food sat in a cluttered mess of plastic cups on a gravy covered plate, and his wife sat on a cushioned window seal in a sleep brought on by pure exhaustion.
I started to replace Mr. Scraper’s IV, filled with the precious liquid to keep him hydrated, as I chatted with him.
“I have good news for you Mr. Scraper, since you were able to eat a solid meal, you will be able to start your Physical Therapy! You will be transferred to Freeman-South tomorrow, as long as you don’t have any complications tonight.”
The old man gave me another toothless grin. He didn’t say anything. I could tell that he was excited, but it was still hard for him to talk, and he was probably tired from a long day. “I’ll let you rest then,” I said, as I started to leave the room.
“Okay, thank you miss,” said Mr. Scraper.
I walked down the speckled hallway. I just had one more patient to check on, and then I could go home!
The next patient was down a hall to the left, past five other rooms. Inside was a teenage boy with tanned, brown skin. He had green-hazel eyes, chocolate brown hair that covered his forehead, and was about six foot. He had a relaxed grin on his face from the morphine being pumped into his body, to numb the pain from his appendectomy. His name was Shiloh Travis.
He had a sister sitting in a chair near the back wall, and his mother and two friends stood around his bed. I remember Shiloh telling me that his friends’ names were Taylor and Archer. The room became awkwardly quiet as I stepped into it, as if they stopped talking just because I came in.
“Sorry,” I apologized. “I just need to check a couple of things.”
“You’re fine dear,” said Shiloh’s mother.
“You’re pretty,” said Shiloh, with a drop of drool hanging from his mouth. The room erupted with snickers. A few months ago, my cheeks would have been bright red from embarrassment, but I had dealt with plenty of teenage boys to keep them from blushing now. Some, who were in complete control of their actions, flirted with me because they had drugs in their system, to give them an excuse to make their friends laugh, while others were truly loopy. I hadn’t decided yet which of the two categories classified Shiloh.
“I don’t look like a Smurf anymore,” said Shiloh proudly.
“That’s a big improvement,” I agreed. (Shiloh’s skin had been a deep blue for a few hours after his surgery). “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m fine, now that you’re here.”
“He’s been complaining about itching really bad,” said Shiloh’s mother.
“The Benadryl must be wearing off then,” I concluded. “I’ll go get some more after I check to see if everything else is well.”
“Did you hear that, she said that she’s going to check me out,” said Shiloh to his two friends. They covered their mouths so that I couldn’t see their smiles. I smiled a bit myself.
His IV was plenty full. I lifted his gown and gently peeled back the bandage on his stomach to see his stitches. (Thank goodness he was wearing boxer briefs. Even though he wouldn’t be embarrassed, I didn’t think anyone else in the room would appreciate that view.) His injury looked like it was healing nicely. There was no bodily slime leaking from it, the swelling had gone down, and the redness around it was going away. It still needed to be checked on regularly though to make sure that it wouldn’t get infected.
“How does it look?” Shiloh’s mother asked.
“It’s healing nicely,” I replied. “Just make sure he doesn’t pull any stitches, and we need to keep checking it to make sure that there’s no infection. But I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to go home in the morning. You still have to talk with the doctor to make sure though. But I say from this point, that it looks like he’s going to live.”
“And he’ll have a battle scar just like mine!” said Archer, as he lifted his shirt to show off three, surgical scars on his white stomach. They were small dots shaped like the belt of Orion: one just bellow his belly button, one bellow that scar to the right, and one above the scar to the left.
“We should make T-shirts!” said Shiloh, with droopy excitement.
Shiloh’s mother had told me that Archer had his appendix removed about a month ago. She joked how the two best friends were almost identical: they both were the youngest of their families and had an older sister, they both loved to play sports, and now they both were missing an appendix.
“Well, everything looks fine here,” I said. “I’ll go get the Benadryl. It will take only a moment.”
“Thank you so much for doing this,” said Shiloh’s mother.
So much for a quick checkup before heading home. Oh well, I’m not complaining. I loved helping people in anyway that I could. I didn’t have much planned that evening either. Just feed a can of tuna to Echo, my cat, eat a small TV dinner, and begin reading a new book as I take a warm bubble bath.
I retraced my steps down the hall to a room with the door closed. Inside were bags of pills carefully sealed and labeled, stacked in oblongish containers on rows of shelves. The tablets of Benadryl were in a bag near the middle of the queen-walk-in closest sized room.
“Hey Stacey,” said Jill, another intern, as she came into the room. Jill was one of the most beautiful women that I had ever seen. Flowing, blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, and long, skinny legs. Scrubs and blood could not lessen her beauty, and she could eat as much as she wanted and not gain an ounce. I was extremely jealous of her complexion and weight, and if we weren’t friends, I would probably be envious.
“Hi Jill, are you still here?” I asked. “I thought you were supposed to go home an hour ago?”
“I was, but a boy came into the hospital with a broken arm, and Amber wasn’t here to replace me yet.”
“I’m sure Chance is disappointed,” I said, referring to Jill’s boyfriend.
“He’ll get over it. He’s a big boy.”
“Since when? Last I checked, he was still as immature as a sixteen year old.”
“That’s not true, he’s as immature as a seventeen year old,” Jill joked with a giggle. “No, he’s a really sweet and a smart guy. I still don’t see why you despise him.”
“I don’t despise him,” I said innocently. “I just don’t approve of him.”
“Why not? He loves to cook, he asks me all the time about what I think, and he can be really romantic. What’s the problem with him?”
“He’s a boy, and boys have cooties.”
“Who’s being immature now?”
“I’m just saying, he’s male, and the male species are notorious for causing trouble. You should spend more time on your career then being googly eyed over their kind.”
“Easy for you to say, but one day Stacy, you’ll find a guy who you like, and everything will change.”
“It would take something terrorific, like the end of the world before that happens,” I scoffed. I grabbed the bag of pills. “Well, I got to go take care of a boy with an appendectomy.”
“Teenager?” Jill asked.
“Have fun,” said Jill, as she gave me a dainty wave goodbye.
The room hadn’t changed much since I had left. All of Shiloh’s visitors were sitting and standing in the same places, and the room had grown quiet again when I stepped in, in the middle of a conversation.
“Here’s your Benadryl,” I said, as I dropped two tablets onto Shiloh’s tray.
“Yay drugs!” he said, before he gulped them down with a glass of water.
“It should take effect in ten to fifteen minutes.”
“Thank you,” said Shiloh’s mother.
I turned my back and was about to leave before Shiloh shouted, “I love you!”
“I love you too,” I answered with a smile. As soon as I walked out, I could hear the room erupt with laughter.
My keys jingled as I was unlocking my car. It had been a long day. I was ready to dress out of my scrubs, and enjoy a relaxing evening at home.