I Have a Story to Tell You
Working in the medical field can be daunting at times. You rarely get a lunch break; you’re on your feet for hours on end, not to mention the psychological toll one pays when a life is lost. I’m often asked why I chose nursing as my career. Maybe by telling you this story all will understand….
June 17, 2001, 7:15 p.m., a young man in wheeled to our department, he is brutally beaten. His head has multiple fractures; swelling is so severe his eyes are sealed shut. His head is shaven for he just underwent surgery, removing part of his skull to allow for intracranial swelling. He has a drainage system attached to his head, he is on a ventilator, and the outcome looks grim. We’re ordered by the neuro surgeon to place this young man into a drug induced coma, vitals every 15 minutes.
In the meantime, another nurse is trying to search the patient’s personal belongings, who is this man? What happened to him? We hear from the supervisor that there is yet another party, a young woman, in the same shape undergoing surgery for internal injuries. We find a driver’s license. He is 17 years old. We start going through the phone book with hopes of locating his parents, it’s Father’s Day.
We’re scrambling around preparing medications, attaching monitoring devices, his intracranial pressures are increasing. When amiss all the chaos, I hear, “I have his parents on the line.”
Upon arrival to the hospital we meet the parents; they are frightened and visibly shaking. We tell them we don’t know what took place, and then proceeded to tell them the condition of their son. The mother said, “We celebrated Father’s Day together with my son and his girlfriend. They mentioned they were going to the nearby park to take a walk…” When the father interrupted and said, “I want to see my son.”
I watched with tear filled eyes, as the young man’s mother and father ran to his bedside and wept uncontrollably.
Later that evening a police officer arrives filling in the lost puzzle pieces to this event. As it turned out while this young man and his girlfriend were walking through the park they witnessed another young man being pushed around by 5 other guys. The one being pushed around was much smaller than the others, and honestly it was no surprise when I heard that my patient came to this young man’s aid, for his parents talked for hours about their son being an A honor roll student, caption of his high school swim team and someone who had a heart of gold.
Unfortunately, two of the five young men ran off to their car as my patient approached them stating, “Why don’t you leave this kid alone, he is so much smaller than you, “only to return with baseball bats. The one being pushed around managed to have gotten away and called the police and ambulance. The police officer quoted the kid as stating, “As I was running I turned, I could see these guys beating him to the ground. His girlfriend jumped in, I saw them hitting her. The guy tried to get up but fell to his knees as they continued to beat him. I ran to get help.”
It didn’t take much time at all for the police to apprehend the assailants, but unfortunately it was now going on two month without movement from my patient. The induced coma was no longer in effect, yet day after day there was no sign of recovery. Then one night while I was working I passed the waiting room only to find his parents sleeping on the couch and lounge chair. I thought to myself, it’s been over two months yet they still refuse to leave their child alone for one night.
I looked at the assignments for the night, and realized he was my patient. I walked into his room took his hand in mine and said, “We’re going to pull through this buddy, do you hear me?” Suddenly I felt his fingers draw in a bit. Did he hear me or was that some sort of involuntary movement? My heart started racing. “Hon, if you can hear me move your fingers again,” again, a slight flicker of movement. “Listen to me closely, if you can hear me squeeze my fingers two times,” once again, a flicker of movement, a pause, and a flicker once more. I refused to let go of his hand for at this moment this was the only form of communication this patient had and I wasn’t about to take that away. I reached over and hit the nurse call light. As another nurse entered the room I asked her to please go to the waiting room and get his parents. Never in my life have I seen a display of joy like that moment with his parents, and here it was only a flicker of movement.
As time passed that flicker became a full squeeze, then that squeeze to full arm movement, to eyes opening, to smiling. His speech was impaired as was his gait, but nothing a little rehab couldn’t help. It was now 4 months and I soon found myself hugging him and saying goodbye as he was being transported to rehab. I mentioned that once he was finished with rehab I would like for him to stop by our unit, and bring us up to date on his progress, for now he was part of our family.
Well a year and a half passed, then one day a handsome young man came to the floor. He had the most beautiful blonde wavy hair, big blue eyes, and was very articulate in his speech. “Hello ladies.” We all looked up and said hello, then asked how we could help him. He then said, “I am on my way to college but before going I had to stop by to drop off a gift.” We asked who the gift was for when he turned looked at me and said, “You.” As I looked into his eyes I said, “Me, what for?” Then he smiled and I knew instantly. My eyes welted up in tears as I announced who he was. The girls all got up and started hugging him as did I. When he turned to me and said, “Sometimes in the middle of the night when I’m laying still I can still hear your voice say, “We’re going to pull through this buddy.”” He handed me a necklace which darned a metal tag that read:
THANK YOU FOR BEING SUCH
AN IMPORTANT CHAPTER
IN MY LIFE
I often wear this necklace, and whenever I’m questioned as to why I picked nursing as my line of work, I merely reach up, grab hold of the metal tag and say, “I have a story to tell you.”