It was a man’s voice, loud and gruff, coming from room 254. I was taking a shortcut through the telemetry unit after another busy day in the critical care unit. These weren’t my patients, so I kept going.
I stopped and looked around. No other nurses were in sight, so I went to the doorway of room 254 and glanced in. A large man with a big, friendly face was sitting up in bed. He spoke before I had a chance to open my mouth.
“Do you remember me? You were my nurse on the fourth floor.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I work in the critical care unit. You must have me confused with someone else.”
I smiled, wished him a good afternoon, and turned to go on my way. His booming voice stopped me again.
“No, wait a minute.” He started snapping his fingers. “Your name is … oh, let me think …”
I turned around to see him looking up at the ceiling, a half smile on his face. Then he looked back at me.
“Jackie, right? You’ve got a long blond ponytail, don’t you?”
I was dumbfounded.
“Yes;’ I said, peeking at my chest to make sure I’d taken off my name tag. (I had.) I reached back and touched the tightly braided bun on the back of my head. Then I studied his face, looking for something that might trigger my memory. His eyes were cool, blue and shiny. Curly salt-and-pepper hair framed his face.
“I’m sorry. I don’t work on the fourth floor, and I just don’t remember you.”
“That’s all right, Jackie. I’m just glad I got to see you again. You came into my room about three weeks ago. My heart stopped dead on me and you put those paddles on my chest. I remember you shouting out all these technical-sounding words, telling everybody to clear the way. Then you took those paddles and you shocked me back to life.”
Suddenly it dawned on me: I had been in his room for a code I’d forgotten about. He was a different person then—unresponsive, with dilated pupils and a red and blue face.
“Who told you I helped you that day?” I asked, my curiosity pulling me into his room.
He laughed and looked back up at the ceiling.
“Nobody told me. I was up on that ceiling there watching you. That’s how I saw your long, blond ponytail. And when you turned to look at the monitor, I saw your beautiful face. I’m so glad I got to see you again.”
He looked back down at me, his smile gone. I could see he was struggling with his emotions.
“I wanted to say thanks. Thanks so much …”
Every time I pass room 254 now, a warm feeling wells up inside me. I am grateful for the shortcut I took that day, and for the fact that I answered the call of “Hey Nurse.”
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”