“You’re going to be okay.”
Splatters of crimson everywhere as we attempt to compress the injuries - this is the first thing I notice.
The monotonous beeping of the heart monitor, lists of frantic orders from the doctor, the squeaking of the wheels on the gurney as we push it past its limits, my pulse throbbing from the arteries in my head to my palms, practically crushing what’s left of the poor man’s arm; all the sensory stimuli crash on me like an anvil, but I have no opening to run and hide.
That message rattles every fiber of my nervous system, the jolts urging me to run faster.
Put him out of his pain.
End his misery.
We finally burst through the doors of the nearest surgical room, and immediately, everyone scatters in an organized frenzy, gathering every required tool needed for this emergency. One of the nurses inserts an IV into his brachial artery.
I can’t tear myself away. I simply press harder into his torn shoulder in an attempt to prevent more blood loss.
Subclavian vein broken, multiple arteries torn deltoid and biceps brachii torn, infraspinatus and supraspinatus-
Immediately crashing my rapid cycle of thoughts, I feel a hand grasp my forearm. I glance down to find the man, eyes squeezed shut, mouth clenched in a grimace, tears streaming down his pallid cheeks.
Kneeling close to his face, keeping the pressure on the extreme bleeding, I say my voice as stable as I can make,
“You’re going to be okay, sweetie.”
Slowly, his green eyes flutter open, lashes soaked with tears, scleras puffy and red. I see the scratches, bruises, and dirt sullying his face. His breathing turns slowly to wheezing the faster he inhales, the air whistling the tighter his larynx constricts.
Adding hyperventilation to the blood loss could increase his chances of hypovolemic shock.
Much to my relief, another nurse takes over compression. The physician follows her lead, syringe and forceps in hand. I am forced to the other side of the gurney, yet despite the jolting, the patient still clings to me, nails now digging into my skin through my scrubs.
Finally, I can clasp his hand into my own, his grip still strong. His eyes never leave mr, despite the obstruction of the surgical mask. Moving a piece of black hair from his eyes, I tell him gently,
“Take a deep breath. You’re going to be okay.”
He still wheezes. Another nurse mixes herself into the chaos, as they attempt to salvage what’s left of his arm. The numbers on the monitor increase.
Tachycardia, I assume, and I alert the doctor.
The patient still looks at me with tear filled eyes.
I can’t believe he’s still conscious...
He suddenly screams. His free hand starts to thrash, and the doctor demands a sedative. When I glance at the scene, I see the bloodied pieces of the limb tangling from the edges as excess blood is suctioned. Without another thought, I take his hand still being flung by its angry owner.
Clean. Stick. Drip.
The IV gets replaces, and I increase the dosage.
Sweat trickles down his forehead as he lies still for a moment.
Finally, his heart rate stabilizes a little, though still rapid, and his breathing steadies.
“You’re going to be okay,” I say again, still holding down his arm.
Again, he looks at me. Slowly but surely, his lids grow heavy.
“You’re in good hands.”
“We have you.”
“You’re going to be okay.”
Finally, he closes his eyes.
”You’re going to be okay...”
Another shift done, and I find myself leaning against the wall, burying my face in my hands.
This wasn’t my first trip to the ER. In fact, I couldn’t even call it the worst I’ve witnessed, but I couldn’t seem to get that patient out of my mind. No question about it, his hue was cloudier than than a sea during a storm. His arm looked as though it had literally been torn from its socket. The logo of the MWPSB was embroidered on the soiled jacket, indicating his rank as an inspector.
And those eyes.
Those hypnotizing, emerald eyes, filled to the brim with tears, eyes pleading for some kind of comfort or escape from his suffering...
What just happened?
What had he seen? What did he just go through to lead him to this state?
Inspectors and enforcers deal with the worst of the worst, the scum of the city. Dangers of every kind waited with their jaws open for any of the unsuspecting police attempting to track them to prison.
This could have been a case gone completely wrong, who am I to ask?
I’m just a nurse after all.
I take care of the patients to the best of my ability.
No questions asked.
I meander through the sterile halls. Occasionally, a bewail from a distraught patient resonates within the walls. Not unusual at this time of night. I walk by a nurse on the night shift, pushing a tray with food.
Then, I stop before the door - his door. I figure maybe I can check one more time before returning home. After all, he is one of my patients.
Flashbacks of the ER replay in my mind, and I hesitate. I graze my fingertips over the edge of the door. Simultaneously, my heart increases its rate.
If he’s awake, what do I say? What excuse do I come up with? The wounds? Maybe the medication?
If he’s asleep, then what? I can’t ask him anything. I can’t talk to him.
Why am I even here in the first place?
Complete amputation distal to acromial region.
Crime Coefficient: 140
As a nurse, this is all I need to know at this point.
I smack my forehead to cease this cycle of pointless anxiety. Before another thought can pop into my head, I scan my ID, and the door whizzes open. Of course, his eyes immediately dart over to me as the portal closes. I freeze as our eyes lock a moment. Dark circles sink into his skin, his cheekbones only making them more hollow. In place of his left arm is heavy gauze packing the wound. Flecks of blue and purple dark speckle his pale chest and neck.
Swallowing the lump in my throat, I say,
“Just needed to do one more round before going home.”
Instead of replying with words, he sighs and turns away, as if awaiting my next move.
Okay, so far, so good.
I meander over to the IV: still secure in his right arm, still dripping accordingly, still the correct dosage. I sit myself at his left side to check the dressing. As my hands remain busy, I examine his movements. His expression remains the same, except for an occasional wince of discomfort. If attempt to ask his condition, he says nothing and continues to stare into his abyss.
He’ll definitely go into treatment...
It hurts me to think that. I despise those facilities for the latent criminal. Everything to me is wrong, and I even wonder if they’re meant to keep those crime coefficients the same.
But, no one questions the System; not even experts in medicine.
“There,” I mutter, tying the last bandage. “That should keep secure for the rest of the night.”
Just the same blank expression.
A quick breath of air escapes my nose.
He didn’t know me. I didn’t know him.
He never saw me past the surgical mask.
Why would he say anything to me?
With a small cough and a stretch of my neck, I tell him,
“Rest well. Try not to move too much. Call the nurses if you need.”
Despite the hint of disappointment in my heart, I could rest easy. I did my part even if the reception was lacking.
After all, I’m just a nurse.
Just when I think my work to be done, I feel his hand encircle my wrist. My heart stops for a moment, and his breath trembles as he exhales. When I glance back, I see it, that face so engrained into my memory from the ER - the tears down his face, the gritting of his teeth, the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes.
Strangely enough, I feel a hint of indescribable relief.
I settle myself at his side once again, taking his hand between mine.
“Hey,” I whisper.
He swallows as tears continue to roll then sinks his teeth into his bottom lip.
One thing I know, despite knowing as little as I do, the pain deep inside outweighed tenfold the cuts, bruises, and even the amputation.
No amount of bandaging could patch a broken heart.
“It’s gonna be okay,” I say.
It’s all I know to say.
“It’s gonna be okay.”
With many of my patients, in their darkest hours, this is all they need to hear.
“It’s gonna be okay.”
“It’s gonna be okay.”
“You’re gonna be okay.”
It becomes a little mantra.
Even if it makes me look silly, if it helps him, that’s all that matters.
His cold, clammy hand still grasps my own but relaxed now. His chest slowly rises and falls. His eyes are closed, and the tension in his face melts away.
The longer I watch him sleep, the more my heart warms, and I stay a little longer, holding his hand, just for that reassurance.
Nurses may not receive the same attention and revere as doctors and physicians have.
But, sometimes, they give the right kind of remedies no one else can.