The Voice of the Nurse
As published on Nurse Guidance
Based on True Events, May this Patient Rest in Peace
I’m in the back corner of a large emergency department. I can see the clock out of the corner of my eye. It’s 2:15 am. Something’s not right, but I don’t know what it is. I can’t explain it either. Why can’t I find the words?
The doctor’s nice, but she left the room so quickly. It’s the voice of the nurse I hear, asking if I’m hanging in there, asking if I’d like another cool rag to bring down my fever. Why am I so hot?
I can hear my daughters talking, they sound worried about me. I can hear the anxiety in their voices. I try to tell them I’ll be all right, but somehow I don’t believe it. I hear them say they’re going to get some coffee. It’s the voice of the nurse who offers to bring some to them so they don’t have to leave my side.
All of a sudden I feel like I can’t breathe. I’m alone in the room, and I can’t find my call light. My daughters have stepped out. Why can’t I breathe? What’s happening? It’s the voice of the nurse that suddenly asks if I can hear her. It’s the voice of the nurse that calls out for the doctor. It’s the voice of the nurse that assures me she’s going to take good care of me.
It’s the voice of the nurse who tells the doctor she needs to come now. I hear the urgency in every word. I’ve taken a turn for the worse, and it’s important. The doctor tries to brush her off, but it’s the voice of the nurse who persists.
The doctor arrives, but now I’m feeling woozy. Every breath is a struggle. I’m being poked and prodded, moved every which way, exposed and turned. A lot of things are happening all at once. The nurse puts a mask on me, and it’s her voice that reminds me to breathe slower-in through my nose, out through my mouth.
The doctor talks in a rushed voice, something about a central line, whatever that is. Then she leaves the room again. It’s the voice of the nurse that never leaves my side.
I feel a little better now. The mask is helping. I tell my daughters to go grab something from the vending machine. I can tell it’s going to be a long night. It’s the voice of the nurse that talks with them in the waiting room, assuring them we’re doing everything we can. It’s the voice of the nurse that is honest with them, yet still compassionate.
Everyone’s back in the room. The mask stopped working. I keep hearing the word “intubate” but I don’t know what they’re talking about. The doctor is asking the nurse a bunch of questions, and it’s the voice of the nurse that remains calm and tells the doctor how I’ve been struggling to breathe. The doctor doesn’t seem to get it, but the voice of the nurse is trying to convince her. If I could speak, I would thank her.
I’m going up to the ICU now. The nurse rolls me on the cart out to the hallway. It’s the voice of the nurse that says, “Let’s check your blood pressure one more time before we go.” It’s then the voice of the nurse that says, “We’re going back in the room for a moment. I’m going to grab the doctor first.” It’s the voice of the nurse that reassures my daughters, it’s bad – but we’re going to get control of this now-or at least we’re going to try.
I don’t really remember much after that. I remember my daughters being there with me. I remember the voice of the nurse telling me to stay strong as she left me in the ICU.
I pass away early the next morning. It was the voice of the nurse who gave me one more night with my daughters. It’s the voice of the nurse who held my daughters together.
It’s the voice of the nurse that made all the difference.