The Call Room
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This is my submission for the 2022 On The Job story event. Most of the medical terminology thrown around is of no importance for understanding this story. However, the word ‘sat’ (an abbreviation for ‘saturation’) is a measure of blood oxygen.
Once she graduated from her premier medical school, Amy naively thought the worst was over. Surely internship couldn’t be as bad. But it was. No, actually it was worse. Much worse. She went for days with minimal sleep working at one of two different hospitals. Her fatigue was so great at times she found herself fantasizing about simply going to sleep once she got to her apartment. And there was no time or energy for relationships or sex; she even realized on one of the few times she wanted to use her vibrator for a little ‘me time,’ it had been so long the batteries had corroded.
Amy looked forward to her next year of training, the so-called ‘first year residency’ which followed the internship. Although during residency the training doctors were responsible for more patients, they usually had two interns working below them doing most of the direct patient care and all the tedious activities also known as scut work. This allowed the residents to spend more time reading, learning and teaching.
After her internship year she had a week’s vacation. She made a quick visit to her folks but mainly rested, slept in, cleaned up her apartment and got new batteries for her vibrator. On her first day back at Mercy Hospital, she met her new team and the two interns who would work with her for the first month. Much to her relief, they seemed to be reasonably intelligent and ambitious. Her team would be primarily responsible for the medicine ward on the fifth floor and the ICU.
Whichever intern was on call had a tiny room with a recliner chair right behind the nurses station where the intern could quickly be summoned to see patients who might need immediate attention. Each of the four residents’ call rooms, one of which she would use every fourth night, were downstairs and featured nice ‘soundproofed’ walls, a very comfortable twin bed, a bedside table with a phone, a small sink and desk with a chair for late night reading and computer work. And even though the walls were bare, she was delighted to see this nice, quiet room and was hopeful she’d have few nighttime interruptions due to her apparently good interns.
The first two weeks were fairly busy for her as she led the interns from being book-smart to being doctors and caregivers. Once they got the basic understanding of their duties and the flow of the hospital, she was able to relax a bit more. She still had to visit and examine each patient daily but a few simple words to the intern were frequently all it took to have the right things done. Since she was far less stressed in her new position, she was able to relax around the nursing and ancillary staffs, some of whom were delightful people.
Roughly a month into the year she was called to the emergency department one night to assess an older lady for admission. Mrs. Schmitt still had a thick German accent one could easily hear between her deep breaths as she sat bolt upright, clutching her oxygen mask. The emergency staff had determined she had heart failure and would need a night or two in the hospital to clear the fluid from her lungs. As Amy was reviewing the chart, an attractive woman about her age and wearing hospital scrubs sat down next to her.
“Hi, I’m Bea, the night respiratory therapist. You gonna admit her?”
“Uh, yeah, she’s pretty sick.”
“You’re Doctor Swanson, aren’t you?”
“Oh, sorry, yes I am. Please call me Amy.”
“Hi, Amy. Just give me a page if you need anything set up with her oxygen. Right now, she’s doing OK on the mask but if her sats drop, let me know.”
“Will do. Thanks for your help.” Amy watched the tall woman saunter out of the small office and down the hall. She was fairly lean but sported some nice curves and had medium length brown hair worn in a pony tail. “Nice gal,” she thought to herself knowing so many people would not have introduced themselves or volunteered to be called with any issues.
Mrs. Schmitt improved in her first few hours and by morning was already talking about going home. On rounds with the interns, the attending physician and Amy, Mrs. Schmitt was cautioned an extra twenty-four hours would be a good idea to make sure she would do well in the long run. By the next morning, however, she had deteriorated and was placed back on oxygen. An ultrasound of her heart called an echocardiogram determined her heart function was dramatically lowered down to about twenty percent of normal. Amy went to her room to discuss the findings.
“Mrs. Schmitt, I’m afraid I don’t have good news for you.”
“Ja? Vat’s wrong?”
“Your heart is extremely weak. You apparently had some heart attacks in the past and they severely damaged your heart.”
“Ach, no problem. Chu vill make me better, nicht?”
“Mrs. Schmitt, I’m afraid we can’t make your heart any stronger. We can try medicines bahis siteleri to make it easier to work, but the damage is permanent.”
“I go home, no?”
“Maybe in a few days. I hope so. Uh, have you considered living with someone to help you?”
“Nein! I take care uv myself!”
“OK, we will arrange for some nurses to visit you and see how you are doing.”
“Nein! No help! No strangers come to my house.”
“OK,” she sighed wearily wondering why some older folks were so set in their ways they wouldn’t even consider minimal help. She moved on to another important topic. “Uh, when people have such damage to their hearts, if they have another heart attack, it will stop beating. If that happens, do you want us to try and save you? You know, shock the heart, beat on your chest, put you on machines?”
“Natürlich I vant dat. Chu are my doctor and chu must help me.”
“Even if it meant you were living on machines for the rest of your life? Maybe with brain damage?”
“Gott vill take care uv me. Chu do everything and he vill do ze rest.”
Amy left the room quite frustrated. CPR in this case had at least a ninety-nine percent chance of failure and the risk of permanent brain damage, if she survived, was virtually guaranteed. Reluctantly, she put a ‘Full Resuscitate’ note on her chart.
Two nights later Mrs. Schmitt did indeed arrest. A code blue was called and Amy tore out of her call room, ran up the stairs and to the room. A nurse was doing poor chest compressions and chaos reigned.
“Everybody, listen up. Andrea, take over on the chest. Do about a hundred to one-twenty compressions per minute, at least three inches deep. Bill, stand across from her and you two switch-off every two minutes, but first put the pads on her and connect to the defib. Suzanne, you’re on meds. Milly, you document. Bea, bag mask her until anesthesia intubates her. Let’s see what the rhythm is…”
The craziness quickly became an orderly team designed to revive the poor lady. Once the tube was down the trachea, Bea delivered the oxygen directly through it. Every few minutes Amy would call a halt to the activities to get a good reading on the EKG. She noticed Bea would stretch her back during those seconds, something which seemed to accentuate her modest breasts. Once when she bent back down over Mrs. Schmitt, her loose scrub top sagged down revealing a tantalizing view of her bra-covered breasts. Amy, who could appreciate attractive people no matter their gender, gave herself a mental slap to focus on the job at hand and avoid looking at the comely Bea.
After twenty minutes it was clear the old heart had given up. As was her custom, Amy asked every person in the room if they had any more suggestions or if they were willing to stop resuscitation. The only one who voiced any reluctance to stopping was Bea.
“Her oxygen levels are great; the lungs are expanding nicely and the breath sounds are clear on both sides.”
“That’s good, Bea, but we need a heart to pump the oxygenated blood around and it doesn’t seem to want to restart.”
“Yeah, I see that. No, I guess it’s OK if we stop.”
Once everyone agreed, Amy ‘called the code’ at one fifteen am, thanked everyone for their help and stepped out to write her final note on the chart. While she was finishing her note, she heard some sniffles from outside the door. There she found Bea leaning against the jamb with tears in her eyes.
“Hey, Bea, you did great in there.”
“Thanks, Doctor, uh, thanks Amy. It’s so sad. I talked to her just the other day. No family, not even many friends, all alone and here she dies surrounded by people doing horrible things to her.”
“I know.I know. I tried to talk with her about it but she insisted we do everything.”
“Well, she’s at peace now, I guess.” The tears continued to drip down her face.
“Hey, Bea, how about a hug?” Amy wrapped her arms around Bea and gently patted her on the back. “You did great and you should be proud. I know I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks, Amy. Means a lot to me. Let me wipe my eyes and blow my nose and I’ll go check my patients on the fourth floor.”
After that awful night, Amy and Bea became casual work buddies. When Amy was on call in the hospital they would share snacks in the lounge, have two am lunches together and talk about everything under the sun. Bea was fairly reserved talking about her personal life but she did she did describe finishing her college and respiratory therapy training before moving to Centerton.
“I, uh, wanted, no I needed a change. I heard this was a nice community, you know.”
“Were you running from anything in particular?”
“A bad relationship, I guess you could say. I feel so much better being far away. I know I sleep better not having to worry…”
“Were you hurt, you know, a victim?”
“Emotionally and definitely financially, yeah, but not physically. I’m just glad she’s out of my life forever.”
Her confession didn’t upset or surprise Amy at all. She had suspected canlı bahis siteleri Bea could swing that way but it made no difference to Amy at all. “What happened financially?”
“Things weren’t going too well between us and I knew we were on the road to splitting up. One day I came home and all her things were gone. That put me in a bind as I needed her money to help pay for the rent. Then my credit card bill came in. She put over sixty grand on it. I tried to stop it, but since I was a signer on it and they couldn’t find her, I was stuck for it.”
“Oh, no. You’re kidding!”
“I wish I was. To top things off, I’ve got seventy-eight thou in college loans. I’m broke, big time.”
“How are you getting by?”
“I’ve got a weird but kinda neat living situation. I live in a house with a family: mom, dad and two tweens. I’ve got my own room, bath and a tiny kitchenette but I spend a fair amount of time with the family, you know? I’m not a babysitter, but they like me being around for the kids when no one else is there. The rent’s zero.”
“Nothing? Sounds pretty sweet.”
“Yeah, well, uh, they’re pretty uptight and my contract says no visitors. I guess they don’t want strangers in their house.”
“Do they know about, uh, you being…?”
“Lesbian? No, and I might be kicked out it they did. They’ve said a few things over the months that suggest they’re pretty conservative and they may not be too gay-friendly.”
“So, no wild, loud sex parties at your place, huh?” laughed Amy.
“Nope, sorry, you’ll have to go somewhere else…”
“What makes you think I’m gay?”
“I don’t. It was just a little joke. You’re not, are you?”
Amy said she had dated mainly guys, that is until the internship year when she was too tired to date at all. And she admitted she had experimented with a girl when she was still in college. Her sorority was quite liberal and several of her sisters were openly gay. At one party one of them took a tipsy Amy upstairs and showed her how a woman could really dine downtown. Amy had never experienced so many orgasms as she did that night. She still considered herself straight and still dated guys but none of them ever treated her sexually as wonderfully as the sorority sister had. The two of them paired off a few more times, with Amy always on the receiving end, before they graduated and went their separate ways with no promises of anything more. Amy never thought it was anything more than a fun diversion and had never dated a woman since.
“Uh, have you dated anyone here?” asked Amy, changing the subject back to Bea.
“No, not really. I’m still trying to recover, I guess.”
“Well, one of these days you’ll meet someone, I’m sure. This is fairly liberal city.”
“I kinda met someone, but I’m not sure she’s interested, so I’ll keep looking, I guess.”
“Have you talked to her? Asked her out?”
“No, she’s straight and this is more of a ‘lust from afar’ kind of thing. I’ll get over it, I’m sure.”
“Unless you let her know, you’ll never have a chance. Think about it.”
“Yeah, you’re right, I guess. Thanks for the pep talk, Amy, nice of you.”
Several weeks later the census was down, half of the rooms were empty and the rest had stable, sleeping patients requiring little work. Amy was getting tired and thought she’d head downstairs to her call room when Bea walked up.
“Hey, Amy, it’s pretty qui…”
“Don’t say the ‘Q’ word, whatever you do!”
“You know, rhymes with ‘diet’ but if you say it out loud, we will get slammed. I know for a fact the ER is nearly empty and so hopefully we can coast until morning, but not if you say the ‘Q’ word.”
“So, you’re superstitious, huh?”
“No, but it’s a well know law of the universe that if you say the ‘Q’ word, then all hell will break loose.”
“Law of the universe?” laughed Bea.
“Yeah, right up there with gravity. You can’t get away from it.”
“OK, I won’t say it. I promise. What are you going to do now?”
“I’m not super sleepy so I thought I’d go to my call room and rest, maybe read or surf a bit.”
“Can I come with you? I’ve never seen the call rooms.”
“Sure,” she responded as she led the way downstairs. Once at her room she was able to use her ID tag to open the electronic lock and ushered Bea in.
“Wow, this is nice. Snug, but nice. You able to sleep here OK?”
“Yeah, mostly. Mostly soundproof though I can sometimes hear a phone ring or someone talking on the phone at night in the other call rooms. Bed’s nice.”
“Really? Let me try it.” Bea stretched out and sighed softly, “I sure wish I could have a little hideaway like this.”
“Yeah, pretty nice, I admit.”
“You know, the walls are pretty bare. Need a little something.”
“Pictures. Maybe some of the woods or the shore so you can relax and dream about being somewhere else. You should get some.”
“From what I understand the rules say pictures have to be approved and screwed into the walls. Something about earthquake canlı bahis standards.”
“Who comes in here, anyway?”
“Only the residents and the cleaning crew.”
“Then who would know? Most of the cleaners barely understand English and probably wouldn’t say a thing. You gotta get some.”
“Bea, you’re a sneaky one, aren’t you?”
“Come on, let’s buy a few, get them framed and install them ourselves. No one will ever know!”
“I dunno. I’d hate to get in trouble over something like that.”
“Well, think about it,” answered Bea right as her phone texted her a message about a patient. “Look, gotta go to the fourth floor. See you around. Sleep tight.”
“Yeah, thanks. Take care.”
The next night Amy was on call was likewise q…, well it wasn’t very busy. She went to the call room fairly early and was reading a novel on her computer when there was a light knocking on the door.
“Oh, Hi, Bea. What’s up?”
“Can I come in? I brought you a little present,” she said as she opened a large, flat bag containing three framed photos.
“What are these?”
“Your décor needs improving and I aim to help. Here.”
“Bea! We can’t hang those here.”
“We’re not hanging them. We’re screwing them into the walls. Here, hold this,” she said as she pulled out a cordless screwdriver and a handful of screws. “Now, where do you want them?”
“Back in your bag. We can’t do this!”
“Shh. Not so loud. Come on. Help me.”
“We’re going to get so busted if we do this…”
“Look, I’ll take the blame but I promise you, no one will notice.”
Within ten minutes the three framed photos of peaceful nature scenes were leveled and affixed to the walls. Bea even took a damp rag to wipe up any dust which had fallen from the wallboard.
“Looks better, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, I have to admit it does. Hey, I owe you a cafeteria dinner, at least.”
“Sure. Let’s figure out when we both have free time and we’re awake.”
After they had dinner together four nights later in the cafeteria, their friendship seemed to deepen but, because of their different schedules and Bea’s home situation, they weren’t able to meet outside of the hospital. Occasionally they would hang out in the call room talking, reading or quietly doing computer work. On one evening Bea interrupted the quiet to ask, “So, did anything ever happen because of the pictures?”
“See? Told ya. I bet the cleaning crew never mentioned it. It’s almost like your home away from home.”
“Yeah, it is nicer. I hope none of the others who sleep here mention it.”
“Nah. They probably think it was done by admin. Relax.”
“Yeah, I need to, I guess.”
Bea got up from the bed and stood behind Amy. “Your posture sucks, know that?”
“Uh-huh. I do. My mom always yelled at me about it. I get so tense at times that I feel my upper back and neck are going to pop.”
“Here. Relax. I’ll give you a neck rub.”
“No, you don’t need to…”
“You need one, though. Here, relax and close your eyes.”
Bea’s fingers were like magic. She began with a scalp massage through Amy’s thick, blonde hair before moving slowly down to the neck. She worked out kinks in the neck muscles to Amy’s soft moans. Next came the upper back. Her fingers slowly worked their way down next to her spine until they hit the bra strap.
“Here, let me take it off,” Amy whispered as she unhooked herself and slid it out through her armhole with the maneuver which amazes most guys. “Better?”
“Yeah,” whispered Bea, “Easier to do the shoulders and back now.”
Her fingers rubbed deeply along the muscles over the shoulders to the neck and down to the midback. Amy felt tension slowly ease from not only her neck and back but also from her life. She hadn’t felt so relaxed since starting at the hospital over sixteen months before. She found herself drifting into a semi-sleep as the fingers did their magic.
“There. Feel better?” she heard as she startled awake.
“God, yes! That was incredible. You should be a masseuse, not an RT.”
“Thanks. Not enough money in it, though. I did take a couple of classes back home but never felt I could make a go of it.” She resumed massaging for another ten minutes or so before commenting, “Here, you look like Jello. Let’s get you over to the bed.” She helped ease Amy over to the bed, said ‘Good night’ and turned out the light on the half-slumbering Amy.
Right before she completely dropped off, Amy thought she felt a tiny kiss on her forehead, but she wasn’t absolutely certain.
Fortunately, Amy’s phone remained quiet for the rest of the night and by morning she was well rested and ready to tackle the work. One of her interns even commented she seemed to have way too much energy for coming off call the night before.
Every fourth night when Amy was on call and things weren’t too busy, the two would meet in the call room. They talked, watched a few videos on the computer or read quietly together, usually stretched out next to each other on the narrow bed. They learned elbows had to be carefully watched or a boob might be accidentally bumped. Bea teased Amy complaining she, Bea, had to be more careful because Amy’s boobs were bigger and easier to elbow.
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