[One of the many great submissions to the Those Emergency Blues Prize for Writing. Posted here with permission.]
Blog: Lost on the Floor
Just after shift change…
“Can someone give me a hand in here?!” came the frantic cry. I looked up to see Dr. Flighty in full isolation regalia trying to keep a very naked guy from running into the hall. As I got closer I saw the wild look in hie eyes, the look of fear, of the flight-or-flight reflex on overdrive.
“Hey, Mr. Smith…calm down there.” I said interposing myself between him and the hall as three other colleagues ran to our aid.
“”I. Have to. Get out of here…” said Mr. Smith looking around bewildered at the ruckus and chaos around him.
He was wiry dude. Not tall, but strong – not in a bulging physique way, but the wiry lean cable-like strength of a life-long manual worker. And I was having a hard time controlling him. It was a battle between him running and him falling.
“Let go of me! Leave me be!” he said. I could see the animal fear in his eyes. “I’m not staying in that bed. I’m not staying in this room. I’m going home!”
“Look Bob,” I said, my tone calm, even, looking him in square in the face. “I know you’re freaked out. You’re scared, I can tell. You don’t know what the heck is going on. Am I right?”
He nodded his head so I continued, “You’re here because of the nosebleed, remember? They gave you some medicine to calm you down so they could fix the nosebleed and now it’s making you feel very strange.”
The fear subsided a bit, but it was still there, a lingering caged animal lurking just below the surface. “Now we’re just trying to keep you safe. I know you’re scared, that you don’t know where you are, or that no one knows you’re here. That’s my job, to keep you safe, OK? Your job right now is to stay in bed, OK?”
He was still straining in our grip, so I eased up. “Can you do that for me Bob?” I finished.
Bob started to shuffle back towards the bed. “This stuff will wear off, I promise you. But you’re too unsteady to be up moving around by yourself, that’s why I need you to stay in the bed.”
Slowly Bob got into his bed. We fixed his gown, re-hooked the telemetry leads, all the time reassuring him that this is what he needed to do. It wasn’t complete capitulation on his part though, it was grudging at best, his glowering eyes told me that. But he stayed in bed and slowly drifted off to sleep.
“He’s going to be a little embarrassed in the morning,” I said to no one in particular. “And we’re going to add Versed to his allergies!”
“What did he have done?” asked Dr. Flighty, clearly shaken from having been chased out of the room by a naked guy. “Had a raging nosebleed that wouldn’t stop, even around the balloons, so he went to cath lab for a coil embolization, think he had a little bit of reaction to the Versed or Fentanyl.” I replied with a smile.
Skip ahead to the next morning.
“Hey Wanderer, Mr. Smith wants to see you.” said another of my colleagues.
I walked into the room. He was sitting there in blue paper scrubs with a sheepish look on his face. He reached for my hand and said, “I’m so sorry if I caused any trouble last night.” he said, visibly shaken.
“You’re welcome,” I said, shaking his outstretched hand. “Not really trouble. You just kept on us on our toes for awhile.”
“I don’t remember much, but I do remember your voice. Thank you for helping me out.” he said.
“It happens from time to time. We’re kind of used to it. I don’t hold it against you at all, just glad you’re feeling better.” I replied and walked out of the room with a grin on my face.
If he only knew the extent of his behavior he would have been mortified as he seemed like one of those straight-laced types. But we’re professionals and left him to his own memories because I know deep inside he knows and it would only shame him if we brought it up. Best to leave it alone I figured. Best thing though? In the midst of all the commotion, neither his arterial site or nose bled!