One Tiny Miracle...(8)

By: Carol Marinelli

Raji was shooting drugs into the patient as Ben gave him the lowdown and thankfully the jerking stopped. Matthew was taking long, laboured breaths, but at least he wasn’t seizing or fighting any more, though Celeste could feel her blood pounding, surely up near Matthew’s as she wrestled to remove the bedhead to give Raji more access to the patient’s airway.

‘Here.’ Ben must have seen her struggle and removed the bedhead easily for her. Raji was a pleasure to work with, a laid-back guy who really just got on with things, checking all the drugs she had prepared and pulling up for himself the others he required. Matthew was on a cardiac monitor, the seizing had stopped, but he was gravely ill and as Celeste watched Raji intubate the patient, Meg liaised with the porters and Imaging.

‘Should we let his family know?’ Celeste asked. ‘They only just left.’

‘Let’s just worry about the patient for now,’ Belinda snapped, and Celeste felt herself redden.

‘I’ll call them as soon as I can,’ Ben said. ‘He’ll probably go straight up to Theatre from Imaging.’

It took ten, maybe fifteen minutes at the most before Matthew was paralysed and intubated and on a trolley, being wheeled up to Imaging and probably then on to Theatre. All that was left from his time in the obs ward was a mountain of paperwork and a lot of chaos. The suction equipment was still on and gurgling, and would need cleaning, the oxygen tubing and masks would need replacing; the bedhead was abandoned on the other side of the room, there were packs open everywhere. The crash cart was in chaos and there were syringes and vials on its surface. Everything would need to be tidied and checked and replaced and then checked again.

‘So much for giving you a quiet afternoon!’ Meg gave her a sympathetic smile, but her pager went off, and there really was no chance of her staying to help.

Letting out a long breath, forcing herself to just get on with it, Celeste turned around and saw Fleur’s worried face.

‘Will he be okay?’ she asked worriedly.

‘I think so,’ Celeste said, and came over, her heart sinking as the proud, dignified lady burst into tears and said sorry over and over.

‘I’ve wet my pants!’

* * *

‘I’m so sorry!’ It was Celeste saying it to Fleur now. ‘It was my fault for not taking you.’

Ben was at the desk ringing the unfortunate family to tell them what had happened to Matthew, and Celeste and Fleur were in the bathroom. Fleur’s wet clothes were off and her hand was wrapped in plastic and elevated on an IV pole, with the old lady sitting in a little shower chair.

‘Let’s both stop saying sorry, shall we?’ A lot older and a lot wiser, Fleur caught Celeste’s eyes and smiled. ‘You could hardly leave the young man, could you?’

‘I know.’

‘I just don’t want my daughter to know that I’ve had an accident—she’ll be in soon, and she’ll think I’m losing my faculties.’

‘Of course you’re not!’ Celeste exclaimed. Still, she’d have been embarrassed too, so she came up with a plan. ‘Why don’t I rinse out your clothes?’ Celeste suggested. ‘They’re covered in blood anyway. I’ll tell your daughter that’s why I washed them.’

‘What about my knickers?’

‘I’ll wash them and hang them by the vent.’ A little bit ditzy at times, Celeste could also be very practical. ‘They’ll be dry by the end of my shift—no one will ever know.’

‘You’re very kind.’

Not really, Celeste thought. Anyone should do it. She still winced when nurses stuffed filthy clothes into bags for relatives, wondering how they’d like it. Still, she couldn’t change the world, only her own actions. So she filled a sink with water...

‘Cold water for blood,’ Fleur prompted, and Celeste did as she was told then set about showering her patient. Firm friends now, Celeste smiled when Fleur asked what was surely a rare favour. ‘Would you mind giving my back an good wash?’ she asked. ‘I can never reach it.’

‘Of course.’ Fleur’s back was indeed grubby from, most likely, years of neglect, as her arthritis simply wouldn’t allow her arms to reach it.