Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Tale of the Ghostly Nurse

XO at Hip Suburban White Guy sent this one in. It's all about the day his beautiful daughter was born. If childbirth doesn't scare you, nothing will!

"Wake up! I'm bleeding."

We had just finished watching Northern Exposure in bed and were drifting off to sleep. It was the rerun that came on after the local news. So it was sometime after 11pm.

"Wake up! I'm bleeding."

Young Galadriel Tanqueray Onassis wasn't due for another month.

My adrenal gland propelled me out of bed like an F-18 ejection seat.

I started assembling our "kit" while she called the pediatrician. The doctor said he would meet us at Truman Medical Center, our chosen birthing location. It was about 30 minutes away.

Less than 5 minutes later, the doctor called us back and said "Truman is too far away. Go to St. Mary's." He would meet us there. St. Mary's was only about 5 minutes away.

I really, really didn't like the sound of that.

We loaded up in the jeep and I took off like a bat out of hell with my emergency flashers on.

My bleeding wife said "Don't get a ticket!"

"They will have to shoot my tires out and follow the trail of rim sparks and hot asphalt to the hospital before I stop this jeep!"

The hospital was expecting us. I handed my wife off to the waiting nurse and wheel chair at the ER entrance while I found a place to park.

I ran from the jeep to the ER desk and asked where they had taken her.

I ran to the location they gave me. I thought. But I got lost. I ran back to the desk and asked again. I successfully ran to the correct examining room.

My wife was lying on the table, the doctor was between her legs and the first words I heard were "There's too much blood. I can't see anything. I need an emergency Caesarian."

She had a placental abruption. She had already lost half of her blood. Mother and baby were both at risk of dying. Soon.

As they were hustling her off to the operating room, they quickly dressed me in scrubs and started taking patient and insurance information.

By the time I got back to the operating room, she was prepped, taking anesthesia, a shield was erected and the pediatrician was in position.

I held her hand as she went under.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

I glanced up at the observation area above the operating room and there was a woman standing there, watching. She was wearing yellow scrubs covered with green frogs. I think she had brown hair, but I can’t swear to it. I don’t remember much more about her. I figured she must have been a nurse or a staffer who heard the late night call for an emergency Caesarian and just wanted to watch and learn.

An eternity later, the doctor pulls a limp, bloody baby from my wife's open womb.

The baby isn't crying. There is no time for pointless, modern nonsense like letting the dad cut the abdominal cord. The doctor snipped it professionally, handed the baby to a nurse who silently whisked it away.

I look up at the observation room and the woman in the scrubs gives me a smile and a big "thumbs up". I knew then that everything was going to be O.K. I felt a rush of relief and was brought to tears. I raised my hand to her in acknowledgement. She smiled and nodded.

The doctor starts closing up. He removes the abrupted placenta, examines it, and asks if I would like to see it.

I politely decline.

He then asks if I would like to see my wife's ovarian cysts before he closes her up.

Again, I politely (but somewhat more urgently) decline his invitation.

He always was a chatty bastard.

He gets her put back together and snaps off his rubber gloves.

The nurse informs him "Just for the record, it's been exactly 15 minutes since you declared an emergency Caesarian."

I look up at the observation room again, and it is empty.

Just as they are wheeling my wife off to the recovery room and taking me to where they are cleaning the baby, I hear her cry.

My daughter is alive!

The next few days are pretty iffy.

The wife had to have a pretty substantial blood transfusion. And recover from an emergency Caesarian. She was lying in her room hooked up to IVs and heavily sedated.

My preemie daughter was lying under a cake-keeper in the nursery with an E.T. light on her finger.

I was in a recliner in the wife's room with an ice pack on my blown out knee from all of that running that my sedentary body had NO IDEA how to handle.

It made for quite the family photo.

My wife's older son and daughter arrive at the hospital.

Somewhere around 3am, my wife groggily wakes up. Last she remembers, she was pregnant and bleeding. Now she's not pregnant anymore and there is no baby. I try to reassure her that everything is O.K. That G.T.O is Ok. She's in the nursery.

She doesn't believe me.

So I leave the step-kids in charge, limp out to the jeep, rush back home and get the video camera. I come back, tape G.T.O. alive and breathing in the nursery. Then I take the tape back to the wife's room and play it for her on the TV.

Many happy tears were shed.

I tried to find out who the lady in the operating room observation deck was. I wanted to thank her for reassuring me.

No one else remembered seeing anyone in the observation room. I describe her as best as I could to one of the ER nurses. Her face went ashen, she seemed to go a little limp and her eyes moistened up, and she whispered “Julie”.

I asked her what she was talking about and she said “C’mon. Your wife and baby are both fine and sleeping. Let’s go get some coffee.”

We went to the lounge, got a couple of paper cups of strong brew from the coin operated barista and settled in at a round table in plastic chairs with wire legs.

The nurse’s name was Heather. She told me story.

“Julie was an Emergency Room nurse. She got her degree in 1980 from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. That’s the Med School on Independence Avenue just east of Paseo. You can always spot it by all of the young kids in scrubs crossing the street from the dorms to the school. Right by the 7-11. It’s a good school, but it’s in a rough area. Right down the street from the cheap hooker hotels.
Anyway, Julie was a devout Catholic. That is why she chose St. Mary’s as her first nursing gig. She was a bit of an adrenaline junky so she was attracted to the ER. She had been working in the ER at St. Mary’s for about 6 months.

One weekend, she had ventured back to the dorms to visit some friends who were still struggling to graduate. After a late night of partying with friends, she headed back to the parking garage, alone, to get her car and drive home.

Unfortunately, the garage was not empty. She was attacked and brutally raped. She was left bruised, battered and bleeding between two cars. A security guard found her shortly before dawn and called the police.

She couldn’t give the police a description of her attacker. It was dark and he had beaten her pretty badly. She lost consciousness. He was never apprehended or charged.

But it gets worse. She was pregnant with her rapist’s child.

Being a Catholic and working at St. Mary’s an abortion was out of the question. She decided to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

The time came and she went into labor. Of course, her beloved St. Mary’s was her chosen birthing location. Her baby would be delivered by the doctors and nurses she worked next to 12 hours a day.

There were complications. Sometimes, a baby just doesn’t want to come into the world. Sometimes, they take their mothers with them when they go. Julie and her baby died in the operating room.”

Heather dropped her head. Her shoulder length blond hair obscured her face. A single tear splattered on the table next to her coffee. She sniffed, raised her head defiantly, wiped her cheeks dry and took a swig of the bitter, machine brewed coffee.

“I’ve never seen her. I don’t believe in all that hocus pocus. But I hear reports. Stories from heavily sedated pregnant mothers being wheeled into the OR. Stories from emotional family members under a lot of stress. People like you. Sometimes they see somebody who looks like Julie. Standing up in the observation deck. Wearing yellow scrubs covered in green frogs. Watching over things. Giving little signs of encouragement.

I don’t believe in all that crap. I’ve seen too many bad things happen to good people.

But I’ll tell you this.

Nobody who ever claimed to have seen Julie ever had to bury anybody.

C’mon. Finish your coffee and let’s go check on your wife and kid.”

I didn't have to bury anybody.


Beautiful Mess said...

I have the chills! Love it!

Spyder said...

"scrubs covered with green frogs" frog= Fully Rely On God

Erin said...

I got the chills too - what a story!

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Very touching. My eyes are moist and I have chills. What a wonderful story. I found you via XO.
I'm voting for this one because he said to. But honestly, I HAVE to vote for this one.
RIP Julie and keep saving lives!!