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There are 256 rooms. Every room is identical: Two InvaCare CS7 beds, oxygen supply hookups, a chair with blue confetti upholstery, and a Sony TV under the ceiling. All the likeness could have the monotony of being trapped inside a nightmare. Yet, the people filled the rooms with emotion. If you really think about it, humans are these skinny poles, perhaps 5-6 feet tall. The bed is definitely twice their size and triple their weight. Yet, these small space absorbers can fill the whole room. Sometimes, their intensity is so strong that one could swear that the color in the room changes to paint the room red with anger or serene with blue. Scents could be so overpowering to take your breath away. Some patient families filled the room with a scent of spice, cinnamon once.
Kandace flipped the switch to turn the yellow light above the door on. With the back of her hand, she pushed the hand sanitizer to squeeze out a cloud of white onto her hand. On automatic her hands wrung themselves, while her hip pushed open the door. Her long brown hair swung around with the move.
“We’ve discussed this, mom. It’s not normal to wet your bed!” a forty-year old woman with drab clothing, yet bright red high heels yelled. Her chest was rigid, holding in the air. Her face had grayed from anger.
“I don’t know who you are and why you are yelling at me. I’m not stupid. I should be at work right now,” barked a white haired, skinny woman in a hospital gown who was fighting to shake the blanket of her bare foot to climb over the railing of the hospital bed. “I don’t understand why this blanket is holding onto me? It’s trying to imprison me.”
Kandace dashed forward, bouncing in her white sneakers. Being all day on her feet, having top of the line sneakers was her pride, like a jungle warrior might have a rare bowie knife to bestow that extra edge in battle. Moving around all day also kept her body trim without an ounce of fat.
“Ms. Wellington, I am Kandace. Your boss as called and asked us to run some checks. He wants you to be in top form for the upcoming project,” Kandace cheeks rouged a little. They always did that when she was lying.
“He did?” asked the frail woman in the hospital bed. “But, I haven’t finished the floor design for… it’s that word… it sleeps my tongue… I can feel it… I’m not stupid.”
The presumable daughter eased out of her wide stance with the arms in the side to sink into the blue confetti upholstered chair with her face falling into deep chagrin. An inhale rose out of her tight chest as a snap for oxygen.
“Oh, you are an architect,” exclaimed Kandace with an overly squeaky voice and big grin. Her cell phone vibrated. A task list flashed on it. “Antibiotics rotation due for room 103a. Call button in room 105b. Day shift due in 20 minutes.” She slipped the black phone back into the pockets of her blue drawstring scrub pants.
“Yes,” said Ms. Wellington proud. “Here, take my card. Our firm also has a residential building division.” Ms. Wellington found her purse on the nightstand behind her. It was tiny, white little thing with creases that suggested it was older than the Civil War. Perhaps, three packs of cigarettes would fit into it. The scrawny, wrinkled fingers fumbled around in it. Kandace licked her lips looking again at the task list on her phone. The daughter buried her face in her palms not being able to watch her mom struggling to search her purse. “Just a little longer,” said Ms. Wellington with an angelic smile of a little girl trapped inside of a decayed body. Her long hair had thinned so much that it had to be carefully combed.
Kandace placed her hand lovingly on the shoulder of the old woman. There wasn’t a shred of flesh were the deltoids should have been. The face on the old woman melted. “You are so kind, child,” Ms. Wellington said, and a tear rolled down her face. “I’m not working anymore, am I?”
“No, Ms. Wellington. You are seventy-two years old. It’s unlikely that you are still working. Your daughter loves you a lot,” Kandace explained slowly, while checking the IV line on Ms. Wellington’s wrist. She tucked on the heart rate sensor to ensure a good fit. The daughter let her arm sprawl open on her lap. The tension had given way to long-term exhaustion from caregiving.
“It’s so sad. It’s so sad. It’s so sad,” repeated in Kandace’s head as she looked between the two. Her fingers swiftly checked off boxes on the clipboard, while the phone vibrated again. “Have you had a bowel movement today?” The daughter shook her head in place of Ms. Wellington.
A last loving look were all the blessings that she could send the two before she had to swiftly walk, carefully restraining herself from running, out of the door. She flipped of the on-call light. Her sneakers were squeaking as she turned to a sprint to room 103a. She flipped the on-call light no. She pushed down the handle.
Mr. Rosen was listening to Jazz music playing an air saxophone. He was a gentleman with a British silk morning robe wrapped eryamandaki escortlar over his hospital gown. His gray hair was carefully groomed, as if he were ready to step of an airplane and wave at an audience of press photographers. “I ain’t got anything else to do all day here,” he’d explain his habit of keeping a meticulous appearance.
“How are we doing today, Mr. Rosen,” asked Kandace putting a little extra pep into her voice, eying the early morning gray outside of the window.
“With you, my dear, it’s all sunshine,” belted the old gentlemen with a charismatic smile.
“How is your pain on a scale from 1 to 10 today?” asked Kandace taking the little come-on with a wink of her right eye.
“Just splendid. There is no pain at all,” said Mr. Rosen. He was the only senior man who had this meticulously trimmed nose hair. He must have gotten up two hours before sunrise to be ready for her daily morning visit.
Kandace pulled down his sheets and untied his silk robe. “You know, I have to check your abdomen,” said Kandace, while her fingers swiftly peeled the clothing away from Mr. Rosen.” Her fingers were soft and youthful.
“Of course, my dear,” replied the old man with a mixture of haste and lust in his eyes, being filled up by a young woman.
The abdomen felt hard like a brick. “So, you don’t have any pain today,” asked Kandace questioningly, while she worked her way through the abdominal quadrants with soft double handed presses. Mr. Rosen’s eye corners twitched down and he sharply inhaled air. His face was tensing up to struggle against the involuntary pain reflex. “Maybe, a little,” he admitted.
“You have to be honest with me, Mr. Rosen. We can’t treat you if you don’t tell us what the truth is,” lectured Kandace.
Mr. Rosen shook his head in frustration and pressed out the words, “If I were really honest, I’d tell you to elope with me to Vegas and get married.”
Kandace typed an alert to the on-call doctor on her phone, while she warned Mr. Rosen. “This is serious. Only twenty years ago, someone with your infection would have died.”
“Yeah, I know,” bawled Mr. Rosen. “I just don’t know how to live anymore without having a woman smile at me. Nothing tastes right anymore, when I can’t smell a woman. It makes my heart feel so alive to be close to the feminine energy. Oh, my Sandy…” Mr. Rosen was panting from hyperventilation. He turned his face away to hide it. “I know to a pretty, young thing like you, I’m only an old fart.” He pinched his eyes with his hands trying to plug up the stream of tears.
Kandace carefully touched his free hand, and told him warmly, “You know that I appreciate all your gallantry, Mr. Rosen. It makes my day to be treated special. And I’m sure, you’ll find a new love.” She had learned inside of every asshole in the street is a scared, little child that simply wants to be loved. Time and again, the façade of every hard ass breaks when the face personal illness and the sense of loneliness and abandon that comes with it. Her phone double-vibrated.
“Mr. Rosen, I would love to stay. Unfortunately, I got paged and have to see another patient. Here are your antibiotics,” said Kandace. She placed the pill on the bed side table. She quickly checked of boxes on the chart and initialed it.
She whirled out of the room. Passing the nurse desk, the daytime shift nurse Sylvia looked up from her computer and called out, “Your behind on the charts. I’m done covering up for you!” “I’ll get ’em to you, asap,” called Kandace back without slowing down.
215 days, it had been 215 days that Kandace had been a nurse. 129 students had started studying with her. All but 35 had dropped out by the end of the AP classes in biology and sciences. Only 12 had made it through the training program. They all had developed a caffeine baseline. Every day, she felt like she fucked up. Every day, she stayed long behind her shift to catch up on tasks. Every day, she came home and felt like crying for all the burden that she collected from her patients. And every day, she knew that she made a difference in many lives. Everything, she did meant something. She was the light in the darkest days of her patients. And that’s why she wasn’t going to crawl into the bathroom and cry. That’s why she was going to the next room and do her best.
Something knocking hard onto the ground made Kandace skip a step. Her senses were sharp like a hunting hound hearing a branch snap in the underwood. Doing a ninety degree turn on the balls of her feet, she opened the door to the next room. There was a blood everywhere.
A smear line of blood was above the bed. The sheets were running with bright red, liquid blood. Ms. Wellington’s hand was red. Blood was smeared on the railing of her bed. She had one leg already on the ground. Her arm was raised grotesquely into the air. The old woman was struggling to get out of bed. Her gown had caught the opposite railing and was holding her back.
“Hold, Ms. Wellington, let etimesgut bayan escort me help you,” Kandace bit her lip. Her eyes looked feverishly. The black eyeliner, that had given her a beautiful, professional look, made her look haunting now. Throwing herself full body into the struggle, Kandace grabbed Ms. Wellington’s ankle that was stirring in the air with one hand and the bleeding hand by the wrist. Kandace looked around. The daughter was nowhere to be found.
“I’m late for work,” barked the old lady. “My billing rate is triple your billing rate. Let me go, you little intern-child!”
“CODE GREEN,” yelled Kandace out into the hallway. She could have easily overpowered the old irrational person. Kandace had gone to a few kickboxing classes. The problem was that Ms. Wellington’s body was easy to injure. Kandace struggled to keep the old lady from hurting herself. Kandace carefully eyed the foot stirring over her head and the blood running closer to her hold. During the nightshift, there were at most three people on the large floor. They could be anywhere. “CODE GREEN,” repeated Kandace again, steading herself.
Bertram was the first to appear in the door. He was the tall black nurse with an afro. He snapped on the blue gloves and straightened Ms. Wellington on the bed. He got the fur-lined restraints out from the bed and placed them on Ms. Wellington’s wrist and ankles. Male nurses have this ability to turn off their empathy and do what is needed. The whole event had felt like she was swimming under water. Kandace was still shaken, when Bertram cooly told her, “I’ll be back with an IV kit for you.”
When Bertram returned with the plastic wrapped IV kit, Kandace was washing the blood of her hand in the bathroom. “Always put on gloves first. Never sacrifice yourself for one patient, because if you live you can save hundreds of patients. And don’t worry, I’ll deal with grump-bumpy from the morning shift.” Bertram delivered all this with a breeze air and a smile. Kandace had a professional crush on Bertram. He was always cool and easy. And he was already out of the door. It felt like he was everywhere, while she was this clunky barge.
She layed out the IV kit on the stainless steel tray: IV needle, extension hose, saline solution for priming, anti-septic solution, and tape. She split the tape in the middle to make two skinny tapes and attached them to the back of her glove to be ready for later. She screwed the saline flush onto the extension hose. She pushed the saline solution to the front and let a drop squirt into the air.
“Ms. Wellington, you might feel a pinch, when I insert the IV into your good hand,” said Kandace gently to prepare Ms. Wellington. Ms. Wellington was facing the wall and treating Kandace with the silent treatment. Kandace waited for the rubber around the old woman’s arm to inflate the vein. Then, she poked. Ms. Wellington burst out talking to the wall: “This is all because of Obamacare. It’s all Obama’s fault. If Bush were still president, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Kandace thought about all of her gay friends. She pinched on the insertion side to block the blood from streaming out. She thought about the gay wedding of her best friends Lucy and Becky. She fished the extension hose from the tray. There had been 99 balloons flying up into the air. She started screwing the extension into the IV. Every balloon had carried a dream, a wish, or a hope from a wedding guest. The thread of the extension didn’t want to grab. Kandace adjusted and tried again. Her dream had been to bring something playful into her life. After all the hard studying and long hours in the hospital, she felt that the play in her life had dried up. “Damn bugger,” escaped her lips.
She looked at the IV that so stubbornly had resisted her threading approaches. She had left the cap on! With one hand pressing on the IV site to keep the blood from coming out, she couldn’t get a good grip on the IV needle to unscrew the cap. She bit her lips again. She didn’t want to be the greenhorn nurse calling out for help twice in an hour. Using her teeth was tempting, yet a severe breach of protocol.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” was the great quote from Arthur Ashe that came to her mind. They had reminded her of that over and over in nurse school. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Do what you can do.
Kandace could sense Ms. Wellington stirring any moment about the hold up. Start over or let a little blood squirt was the question. With all the blood still around, Kandace went for the second option. She undid the cap. Blood started rolling out. She quickly screwed on the extension and wiped the blood away. The moment, she was done, she hated herself. She had taken the low road. Instead of facing her mistake, telling Ms. Wellington about it, and starting over, she had done a sloppy cover up. She had let herself down.
Adrenaline had the effect of focusing on the moment, ankara escort making everything slow down, so that she could react to things. The after effect was a blur, where she barely felt present. It was like she was standing outside of her body watching herself clean up the bloody sheets and stains on the wall and railing. She watched herself typing on the computer to finish her charts, while the station turned bustling around her. The bright morning light was piercing down the hallway. The doctors with their white coats had arrived for morning rounds. The gaggle of nurse interns was messing around the floor. Steward, the Latino kitchen server had arrived with his cart and was stopping at each room. She was checking check boxes on the screen and hitting F5 for the frequent “an internal error occurred, please try again” interruptions of the antiquated hospital software system.
The first time that she had a break to catch her breath was looking into the mirror in the locker room. Her skin was smooth. The eyeliner still gave the white of her eye a sparkle. Yet, underneath her eyes looked tired. She had treated her hair with thickening hair spray to create luscious waves in her brown hair. She had given herself a candy-pink lip gloss to look beautiful and professional. The silver stud in her ear gave her a little pizzazz. Most people would think that she still had a sparkling appearance. Yet, she knew herself well enough to see beneath the makeup. She was dog tired, put-a-fork-in-me done. Physically and emotionally, she was raw. A little sadness crept on her. These early years in her life were supposed to be a wonderful spring of entering the adult world, a joy to learn new things, make new experiences, and leave the first marks on this world. She was simply tired and felt incomplete.
When she got home, the day felt like it was going strong with golden sun filling up the apartment. Her roommate was sitting on the couch in pink scrubs. She was watching golf. She had a towel wrapped around her head to try her hair. She was sitting Indian style and holding a pillow in her lap.
“Hey, Kandy, our HBO doesn’t work anymore.”
“Oh, Bling, I forgot to tell you, I didn’t have the money to pay for cable.” Bling was Kandace’s room mates’ nick name, because her blond hair was always standing out in any crowd.
“No worries, I was having trouble scrounging up the money for my half anyway. We are still on for Orange Kids tonight, right?” asked Bling.
“Definitely! I so need to dance out all this drama in my life!” replied Kandace.
“Don’t go sleeping in your scrubs again. That’s so gross!” yelled Bling toward Kandace bedroom.
Kandace cheek hit her pillow. Belly down, she passed out with the blinds wide open to soak her in golden sunlight.
After having spent the whole day sleeping, Kandace and Bling were driving to San Bernardino in the evening. It was an hour long drive down the freeway. They car was an aging, gray Honda Civic. The corners were orange-brown with rust. The passenger door had a dent from a pillar during parking. A black bumper sticker said, “I’m a nurse. What’s your super power?”
Kandace was bopping her arms in the air to the electronic music playing from an ancient tape. Bling was leaning forward with her tongue sticking out one mouth corner to focus on her driving. “I got this,” cheered Bling to herself. She was indicating to overtake a giant eighteen wheeler.
Kandace’s arms were loading up with candy from the wrist to the elbow. Candy are bracelets made from colorful plastic pearls with little charms interspersed. One was a cuff, five strings of candy were side by side to from a more intricate pattern with candy: The face of a Sesame Street character.She had loaded up a lot of candy to trade with other girls at the EDM festival.
On her head, she was wearing an ocean blue wig with curls that fell down her body. She had a big flower band around her head with yellow and pink flowers. There were sparkles painted on her face. She was wearing a rhinestone bra that pushed up her boobs into perky round mounds the size of a large, firm grapefruit. Around her hips, she was wearing a bikini bottom from turquois stretch fabric that matched her hair. The bottom was so low that it was half way beneath her hip bone. The bottoms had fabric cut out to show even more skin. The only big blotch of fabric was right over her crotch for decency. Her tender, skinny belly was well revealed. She had a beautiful belly bottom. A big chain was hanging down all the way to her belly to make it more interesting to look at her skin.
Bands were running over her thighs to create a little fairy story fantasy look. Beneath her knees, she was wearing big furry and pink warmers to give her that unique raver look. She was ready to party. She showed all her youthful beauty with lots of skin. She looked vulnerable with nothing to hide. Her face was smiling big with exuberance.
They drove through the evening night, bouncing to the music. Pairs of headlights chased down the road with them. There was a solemn air around them and inside was already party time. Kandace eyes’ sparkled with anticipation with throwing herself into the ocean of party with abandon. Festivals were easy. They were pure joy and let her disconnect from work.
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