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A Bad Day In The Emergency Room--Part Three
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Monday, May 20, 2002
Five minutes later, the wail of an approaching ambulance permeated the emergency area before dying in mid-wail as the sirens were snapped off, and the flashing lights reflected on the E.R. walls soon stopped as well.
"Get ready, gang--the patient is here!" Dr. Stryker said, throwing on a fresh lab coat and grabbing his stethescope.
The emergency room doors swung open with a loud "WHOOSH!" and paramedics wheeled in a stretcher. On the stretcher lay a young black woman who was tied down to a long spine board; straps covered her body from head to toe. She wore a cervical collar on her neck, and blocks held her head in place, to prevent her from moving it unnecessarily. Her face was covered by an oxygen mask, and her eyes were closed. She had cuts on her body, and there were suspected broken bones. This was why she was lashed to a long spine board and had her head and neck held in place with blocks and a brace to prevent any movement whatsoever. Her legs and one of her arms were splinted as well.
"Okay. On the count of three--One...Two...Three!"
Many hands moved the spine board from the stretcher to the treatment table. Like angry bees, doctors, nurses, and technicians surrounded the young, unconscious woman on the table. Her clothes were cut off and were then removed, until she lay naked and vulnerable; and I.V. lines and other monitoring equipment were quickly attached.
No answer. No movement.
"Jane? Jane! Wake up! Open your eyes!"
Dr. Stryker rubbed the young woman's breastbone, hard, to see if she responded. She didn't. He then pinched one of her nipples.
She responded to the pain by wincing. She tried to move, but soon found out that she could not. She moaned weakly.
"She's wincing. Jane! Jane? Come on--wake up! OPEN YOUR EYES!" Dr. Stryker's voice became louder, more insistent, demanding. "Can you feel this?" he asked. The woman still didn't answer. Her body became limp as she passed out again.
Louisiana Sandusky stood by the young nameless woman's bedside, looking down at her, concern and tenderness in her dark eyes. Dr. Stryker stood next to her. Dr. Stryker towered over Louisiana by a good foot-and-a-half: he was nearly 6' tall; Louisiana was under 4' 10" by several inches. She was only 4'7 1/2" tall.
The young nameless woman was now in the neurosurgical Intensive Care ward. She lay in a hospital bed, her head encased in a cervical traction device called a "halo". Her left leg and hip had been operated on and were now casted. The I.V., monitoring equipment, and oxygen mask were still in place.
Suddenly, the young woman moaned weakly. Louisiana bent over the bed rails. "Shh, baby, it's okay, honey. Don't try to move. You're in traction. You're in the hospital, baby. You were in an accident, but we're taking care of you." Her calm, French-accented voice seemed to calm the frightened woman down. She placed a cool, gentle hand ono the woman's forehead and began stroking her eyebrows to further calm her. "You're going to be just fine, baby," she whispered gently.
The woman's eyes fluttered, then opened. They widened in alarm when she saw bars in her field of vision. She then was aware of the sight of a very short, heavyset nurse with kind eyes. The nurse continued stroking her eyebrows. She smiled broadly upon seeing that the woman's eyes were now open. Fine wrinkles outlined her black eyes, and deep dimples flashed in her cheeks as she smiled, revealing white teeth that seemed even whiter against her dark skin.
"Open your--Oh! You're awake!" Louisiana spoke. "Good! Relax, baby. My name is Louisiana. I'm your nurse this shift. Your doctor will want to see that you're among the living. Blink if you understand me. Don't try to talk, baby."
The woman blinked. "Wha--", she croaked.
"Didn't I tell you not to talk?" Louisiana gently chided the woman. "I'm gonna' get your doctor; I'll be right back." She straightened up to her full 4'7 1/2" height, touched the woman's thin shoulder, and then left.
The woman passed out again.
"Jane? JANE! WAKE UP!" Dr. Stryker was back, calling out the woman's name.
"My name's not Jane," the woman gasped out underneath the oxygen mask. Her voice was nothing but a hoarse whisper.
Laughter erupted, breaking the tension of the Intensive Care ward. The woman's eyes opened again. There was that doctor, and there was that little nurse again, she thought to herself. Louisa? Did she say she was from Louisiana? God, she looks positively TINY standing next to that doctor's bulk, she thought. Both Dr. Stryker and the nurse were laughing openly.
Louisiana began stroking the woman's eyebrows all over again. She relaxed under the cool, comforting touch of the nurse's hand.
"Well, Miss 'I'm-not-Jane', who ARE you if you're not 'Jane'?" the nurse giggled. Her black eyes sparkled brightly as she talked.
"Lion?? Did she just say her name's 'LION'?" Dr. Stryker said. His eyebrows shot up dramatically.
The woman tried to shake her head, but found out that she could not. She winced in pain.
"No. Loiyan. Low-why-an," she whispered faintly.
"DON'T MOVE. Loi-yan. Okaay..last name?" Dr. Stryker implored.
Her throat prevented her from speaking, it hurt so much. She mouthed, "Parnyombe. P-A-R-N-Y-O-M-B-E."
"WHOA. I ain't gon' even TRY THAT ONE; Louie, you speak African; you try it!" Dr. Stryker said, laughing, as he raised his hands in defeat. Louisiana shot him a withering glare, a glare that could stop a volcanic eruption. Even Loiyan had to look away. The glare from the nurse's eyes was positively devastating.
"Loiyan Parnyombe? Is that right?" Louisiana asked gently. "Blink if you understand me."
"I'm Louisiana, like the state. Yes, I was born there--Breaux Bridge. This guy here is your doctor. Dr. William Stryker. He's your neurosurgeon," she smiled. "The best--"
"I can't help it if it's true . I AM the--" the doctor started, but was interrupted by a snort from Louisiana. She pulled away from him.
"PUH-LEEZ! Don' be braggin' on you'self again," she laughed, rolling her dark eyes. She flashed him a quick grin.
"Louie, you look just like your daughter when you do that," Dr. Stryker said, smiling.
"Which one? I've got more than one," she parried.
"You KNOW which one! Come on, Louie, we're NOT helping this lady by--I'm dyin', here. Help me out here!"
"Your New Yawk is showin', honey," Louisiana said. "This Yankee is your doctor--Stop lookin' at me like that, doc--he's gonna' tell you what's goin' on." She eased herself into a chair by Loiyan's bedside. With a little groan, she mouthed, "My dang back is killin' me. There. That's more better!" She resumed stroking Loiyan's eyebrows with her hand.
"Li--Loiyan. I'm Dr. Stryker, but we've already established that. You were injured in an accident at your job; that's why you're here. Nashville Memorial Hospital. You were going on break; the elevator you were on fell three floors." He took one of Loiyan's hands into his large one.
The woman's eyes widened as she suddenly remembered the sensation of falling while in the elevator--the loud, roaring sound--pain, intense, white-hot pain--then nothing. Tears welled up in her dark-brown eyes. "Am I--"
"Shh, Loiyan. We're going to make goddamn sure you won't die. You are hurt, badly hurt. You have a broken left leg and hip, a badly bruised right leg and arm, multiple soft tissue injuries; that's why you're hurting all over. Those are serious enough, but we're most concerned with your upper spine. You broke two bones in your neck, between your shoulder blades. We don't--didn't--want you moving around too much, so we placed a cervical traction device called a 'halo' on your head; that's the bars you see. Do you understand?" Dr. Stryker asked, concern written on his face.
"Okay," he continued. "We placed a metal band, or frame, around your forehead; we put some screws in, to hold it in place; the two bars come from the frame and are connected to a brace-like vest you are wearing. This will keep you from moving your head and neck and risking paralysis. Since you can feel your legs and arms, that's a GREAT sign. We're going to make DAMN sure--sorry, Louie, I owe you, rather, the cuss jar--Louie, here, doesn't like cussing--stop glaring at me with those Cajun eyes of yours! If we cuss--and I NEVER do that--okay, okay, Louie--WHEN we cuss, we gotta' pay up. I'm guilty. Here. Hope you CHOKE!!" He handed Louisiana some bills and then rolled his eyes. "You've got the charge nurse in charge of your care. Louie, she looks like she could use some pain meds--and I bet you do?" he asked Loiyan.
"That was emphatic. Louie, Morphine, I.V., four milligrams, STAT. Vitals and neuro checks Q 30. Keep me posted. Any change, you call me, STAT. Loiyan, Louisiana's going to give you something for the pain. I'll be back later to check on you." He then left. Louisiana fiddled with something in her left arm--the I.V.--; a warm sensation, like a heavy comforter, spread throughout Loiyan's body, and she soon then fell fast asleep. She was out like a light.
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|Reviewed by Susan Gilson
|You must be a nurse, doctor or very insightful person - to have written such a true-to-life account of the goings on in Emerg. and ICU. I can only smile - your hint of humour glimmers throughout - a release of sorts, for those who must bare witness to such suffering!
You are a very talented writer. Your figurative language - brilliant - "Like angry bees..."
Thank you so much. I truly enjoyed my stroll through your postings. I'm looking forward to my next visit.
|Reviewed by Helen Downey
|This story is really a funny one. I remember those days of trying to pronounce someones name or even trying to understand what they are saying, not because they are groggy, but because of their thick accent! A great write, and so very realistic. Thanks for the memories!
Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado