As most of you know I’m a nurse. While at work one day in 2011, I happened to answer the phone when a coworker (I didn’t know well as she worked on a different unit) called to say she wasn’t going to be able to come in for her shift as she had accidentally cut her arm, was bleeding profusely and trying to get to the ED. Something about the tone of her voice set off the “nurse alarm” within me. I’d previously worked in an inner city hospital and had many patients who were victims of traumatic injuries i.e.shootings and stabbings. Sudden and significant blood loss, also known as hypovolemic shock, is a life threatening emergency that requires medical intervention. There are definite “signs” that a person is hypovolemic but when all you have is a voice on the other end of the telephone, you rely on your experience and gut instinct.
Backing up a moment, although I didn’t know this nurse well, I knew she was highly proficient in her field, very conscientious and extremely independent. All of these traits quickly led me to believe that she would downplay her injury. So, sitting at a desk miles away with an injured but headstrong nurse on the other end of the phone presented a problem. I listened carefully to her voice. I was able to detect variances in her tone, “almost” confused but not quite. I decided that I had to intervene. I remember turning to a nurse manager sitting near me, quickly explaining the situation only to be casually brushed off with “Oh she’s ok”.
I asked another long term employee and she too brushed it off. I began asking other staff members where the injured nurse lived (it was a small community but I didn’t live there) and they didn’t know. Ever persistent I called Human Resources only to learn that the woman who worked in the department had gone home briefly to accept delivery of a new washing machine. I began stalking the CNA’s until one told me where they thought the injured nurse lived. From bits and pieces I was able to pinpoint her residence and called 911. I explained to the dispatcher the urgency of the situation then waited. Soon an officer telephoned to say he had located her house, saw evidence of a major bleed but found no one home. He said he’d checked with EMS and they hadn’t transported her. He ran the plates of a car parked in the driveway and it was registered to the nurse.
Then I received a call on another line from yet another officer. He was at the ED where he’d located the missing nurse who was thankfully being treated. Ever independent, she had her 80+ year old father drive her to the hospital. At this point I was just glad that she was receiving medical attention before she lost any more blood. It left me wondering however about the nurse manager who casually said she was “ok” then resumed her gossip fest. And the other nurses as well! What planet were they from?
A week later I saw an envelope with my name pinned on the staff board. It was a “thank you” card from the injured nurse. We slowly developed a friendship based on mutual interests and a shared religion. We’ve remained friends despite both moving on from that job. Why am I sharing this today? Because recently that woman did something to help me. Knowing I’d literally spent thousands in an effort to save my beloved Callie and no access to liquid funds, she lent me enough money to stay afloat. She didn’t have to help me. She also didn’t have to text me daily after Callie Ann’s diagnosis to see how she was doing nor continue after her tragic death to check on me yet she did. It’s called kindness, a trait that sadly not everyone possesses. This woman ~ no, my friend, defines altruism. We’ll remain close forever. Who could have imagined that a broken kitchen window almost 5 yrs ago would turn into something so uniquely special? Although my heart is broken from Callie’s passing, I am truly blessed to have gained the friendship of such a special and unique person. My life is richer with her in it and I look forward to our continued lifelong friendship.