iv | Organized Chaos
I stood in front of the row of sinks thoughtlessly going through the motions scrubbing my hands and arms. All I could do was pray. Pray for this night to end. Pray to make it out alive. Pray that no one else gets involved in this mess. Pray that I get to see Sofia again and just cry in her arms when this is all said and done. But mostly I pray that Dominic, who now lies on the table of the operating room, lives mainly for my sake and fear of the consequences if he doesn’t make it off the table.
He’s a stranger to me. I know nothing about him. But piece by piece I managed to put together an assumption of who he could only be. Gunshot wounds, a car riddled with bullets, and the piss poor behavior of his brothers were pretty good indicators that the man I now look at lifeless and intubated on the table was not an admirable and ethical human being.
Marcello’s words continue to ring in my ear if he dies, you die.
Funny how less than an hour ago I peacefully looked out the front window of the hospital wondering how it could be such a slow night in the middle of a major city. Now I questioned how one measly, boring, little night turned into hell. I was eating my earlier words about being bored, only hoping to wake up from this miserable nightmare. I would take boredom any day of the week for my sanity and safety.
Months ago when I moved I thought a fresh start and a new life would dull the constant state of fear. Fear of him finding me. Bringing me back, torturing me. Even killing me. I let my guard down, if only for a minute. I became comfortable with my new little life. I had a friend. I had a job that I admired. My life was falling seamlessly into place. I knew one day he would find me. I knew one day I would have to uproot my life all over again, to start a new life in a brand new city like I did this time. I knew deep down my life was always going to consist of running. I was never going to be safe. I didn’t however, imagine that someone other than him was going to make my life hell.
My brain flourished with thoughts of how to get out of this mess, only to be brought out of it when my arms began to sting with pain. I had been thoughtlessly scrubbing my arms with the disposable brush for so long that my skin had become raw. Little blotches of red dotted my skin, trickling streams of crimson over my non-affected skin.
Reality quickly slapped me across the face bringing me out of daze. This wasn’t a dream or a nightmare. This was real. No matter how badly I didn’t want it to be. My life was a never ending revolving door of misfortune. The sooner I came to realize that, the better.
My eyes shifted to focus across the brightly lit operating room to the door just opposite my position. Marcello eyes were icy, shooting daggers right back at me. I don’t know why I secretly hoped that his face wouldn’t be the one I was staring back at when I looked that way. He made my damn skin crawl. Something about him rubbed me the wrong way. I mean besides his absolutely horrendous coping mechanisms and less than chauvinistic attitude. That man didn’t have a damn charismatic bone in his body.
My knee quickly hit the lever on the sink, abruptly shutting off the luke warm water. I grabbed a mask in a box hanging on the wall nearest the door to enter the OR. My fingers fumbled with the one set of the strings attached to the mask but I was able to manage to hastily tie the first knot above my head resting on the scrub cap I instinctively put on prior to scrubbing in. I tied the last knot behind my hand, took one last breath in and pushed the door open with my hip.
I couldn’t tell which one created the goosebumps to raise on my skin again; the artic air or everyones glare in my general direction. I hated the attention. I hated being the center of attention, should I say. Even in an environment like this, surrounded by people I knew and trusted. I felt like I shrunk ten sizes with their eyes darting across my body as the momentarily had to think about who I was. The only one who seemed uninterested was Dr. Day.
Dr. Benedict Day, trauma surgeon. That man hand the most nimble fingers and the sweetest heart. His British accent was enough to make any girl swoon, despite his middle age. His peppered hair peaked out the bottom of his navy blue scrub cap. He was focused, determined. His head light draped over his face, illuminating Dominic’s beaten and battered body.
I had dealt with my fair share of surgeons over the few years that I have been a nurse, especially now that I worked in the trauma bay. Some of them could be caring and personable. Others… well others could be narcissistic, egotistical assholes. Some of them had been scarred. Some of them battled every day with things they’ve seen at this job. The stories we shared were things that most people on the street could never imagine. Abuse by patient’s, tweaked out meth heads chewing at their own limb, murders of little children. Things no one should have to see or deal with.
Dr. Day was different. He could take the most panic stricken patient, child or parent and calm them down with only a few words. His presence calmed every room he walked into. His smile was contagious. His bedside manner was unbelievable for a physician, sometimes better than the majority of nurses that I had worked with. He was a surgeon that I took pride in working with frequently in the ER.
I knew from his uninterest in who had walked into his OR that he had either been concentrating on something highly important, or he knew exactly who it was that just interrupted his surgery. Maybe both.
“Ms. Artell. Care to join us?” He said picking out what I presumed was a bullet from Dominc’s body cavity with his forceps, lifting it up in the air under the fluorescent bright light and examining it before dropping it into the metal bin next to him. Yep he knew exactly who had just walked into his OR.
His accent accentuated each word that fluently left his mouth, making him seem more articulate than most.
“Oh hi Dr. Day. How did you know it was me?”
“Addi, my dear. Who else enters my OR on a night shift? My nurses are all accounted for in front of me so that only left one young curious nurse I know that works here and likes to pick my mind when I’m working. You know I never mind having you here, but aren’t you supposed to be in the ER tonight?” Dr. Day never batted an eye towards me, keeping his head down, concentrating on his next objective.
I had been known to sit in the OR on rare occasions. I was supposed to sit there and observe but my mind always raced with questions and I had a hard time keeping them to myself. I had a tendency to poke and prod Dr. Day to teach me almost everything he could, when he could. My plan was never to impede on any of his surgeries so at times I did have to keep my mouth shut and ask later.
I’ve always loved learning, and I’ve always considered myself to be relatively intelligent- at least when it came to healthcare. On multiple occasions I had contemplated going back to school for my doctorate, but he always shut down that idea. He drilled it into my head that I was worthless and simpleminded. He got under my skin. He drilled in those words so many times that eventually I began to believe them myself. But it didn’t stop my drive for wanting to learn when I could. I took the opportunities where I could. I never went back to school but that didn’t mean I ever stopped learning. Eventually I think I started doing this just to spite everyone and anyone who thought that I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough.
Aside from clinically studying what happens in the OR it was just as intriguing to see how the traumas that I would care for down in the ER would play out. I had permanent PTSD from the injuries that I witnessed. We rarely got to see the patients we took care of after they left the bay. It was refreshing to come into the OR and post-op. It allowed me to see the outcome of some of our most brutal traumas. I watched them ward off death in surgery and I got to be witness when some of them woke up in recovery no longer being plagued by death’s scythe.
All of this. Watching the process from start to finish, it put life into perspective. The feeling that coursed through your body when watching someone you took care of recover, there was no greater feeling. It caused my warm, fuzzy feelings the swim in my veins and my stomach to do back flips against every other internalized organ. It made me realize that what I do matters. That I have a purpose. That without me, without the trauma team, none of this would be possible.
For me, that feeling was addicting. After years of physcological torture, being told that you aren’t good enough. This- this job, what I do, constantly reminds me otherwise. The adrenaline of the trauma and the happy-endings were like a drug. I craved more each day. I was miserable without getting a hit. Eventually I would forget that addiction, the feeling of seeing all your hard work paying off; watching someone discharge weeks later that YOU saved. I would continuously fall back into this type of self-loathing rut. Until another case comes in and reminds you all over again, just how special you are.
I know I wasn’t supposed to be in the OR, but Dr. Day always made an exception for me. I mean what else am I supposed to do on a slow overnight shift in the ER? I may as well make the most of it, right? Of course I always carry my work phone on me if any traumas were to come in. Usually Sofia knows where I disappear to, and where to find me if anything major happens. I now secretly prayed that she wouldn’t come looking for me.
“Yes Dr. Day I am. But it is somewhat slow tonight. It’s well staffed down there. I took special interest in this trauma case tonight. I would like to see him through to recovery. If that is alright with you?” I lied, straight through my clenched teeth. I was never good at that- lying. My parents used to tell me my lip would twitch in the corner when I lied. Luckily the mask covering half my face proved to be useful, giving me the ultimate poker face.
“Sure, Addi. I just took out the bullet that clipped his stomach and sutured that up. The bullet wound to the right lung was minor, no complications with that. Now, ah….” Dr Day began to trail off.
“Is everything okay Dr. Day?” his face, what I could see of it, had a look of concern.
“Yes my dear. Just concentrating on extracting this bullet near his heart. He is a lucky man. The bullet missed his heart by less than an inch. There is just… hum…” He coughed a little before continuing. “There just a lot of small, little bleeders here. I need help cauterizing.” He trailed off, taking a quick glance at one of his nurses working next to him. “Can I get a little bit more suction Cami?” Concentrating on what he was doing, Dr. Day grew silent, forgetting my presence behind him.
I let him work in peace. I crossed my arms and shifted my weight onto my right leg popping my hip out to help me glance out the window at the two menaces that were, unfortunately, still lurking in the hall keeping an eye on me. I feel like I’m on death row. One mess up and I get a shiny new accessory in between my eyes. I couldn’t run. I had no way out. Every step I took, every time my mouth moved, they followed, almost taking notes.
I began shifting my weight back and forth, bringing my hands up to my mask covered mouth. I need a way out. I need to get away. There’s only two ways out of here. One out the door the two now preoccupy. The other just slightly around the corner from them. The minute they see me move in any suspicious way I know they won’t hesitate. They will shoot to kill, not caring how many other innocent lives are at stake.
Think Addi, Think. I could… No that won’t work. What about-
An all too familiar alarm focused my attention back to the scene unfolding in front of me. It was the type of alarm you hear in your sleep. The monitor alarm to notify the staff of something abnormal.
“Dr. Day his BP is falling rapidly!” the scrub nurse shouted fervently.
“Hang another unit of O neg please Cami, and push more fluids- open bore if you could.” Dr. Day’s voice was still, unmoved. To him this was just another day in the office. To me, my heart felt like it was about to fall out of my butt at any second. Things could go wrong in a matter of minutes.
“Everything alright Dr. Day?” I inquired nervously.
“Oh yes, dear. Just the little bleeders caught up to him, nothing to worry your pretty little head about.”
“Dr., he’s having more frequent runs of V-Tach, not sustaining but it’s beginning to worry me. .”
“It’s fine Denise.” He referred to one of the other nurses. Her eyes look like they were going to fall out of their sockets. She was nervous. “Just hang the blood and fluids. The quicker I get these bleeders fix, and the bullet out the better off we will all be.” He looked up flashing a smile at her. Sure you couldn’t see it behind his mask but his eyes crinkled up on the side. It wasn’t meant to be sarcastic or rude. I could tell that he knew something was wrong but he was trying to internalize his panic. Like I said, shit could hit the fan relatively quickly in any case.
As if Denise hadn’t warned him soon enough, Dominic started to sustain in V-Tach. The well-controlled, calm room erupted into organized chaos. Voices shouted from every direction. I had a hard time piecing everything together. At one point I was able to distinguish someone saying “He has no pulse, and he’s still in v-tach. Start manual cardiac massage, get the defib charge and a milligram of epi ready.” I hadn’t realized that the only voice that actually truly spoke was Dr. Day. But his calm voice was soon drowned by the chaos of the room.
I start to panic. “One..two..three…” My intestines slowly creeped into my throat, then abruptly dropped back down like a yo-yo. “Fifteen...sixteen... seventeen…” No, NO, NO. This cannot be happening… “Twenty-eight...twenty-nine...thirty” and another female voice chimed in. “Charged, everyone CLEAR!” Two tiny little paddles forced his heart to jump momentarily before going back into a rapid, irregular, fluttering motion. They started the process all over again still clinging on the little bit of hope each of them carried with for the man that lay lifeless.
My head starts goes fuzzy and my vision started to blur. I started to feel myself hyperventilate, my pulse quicken to the point my heart felt like it was going to reach out through my chest wall. My hand clutched onto my stomach hoping to suppress the feeling sick currently trying to reach for my brain and yank it from it’s skill.
I’m not the type that usually prays but at this very moment, now seemed as good a time as any to start. Please, God. Please Dominic, you have to live.
A/N: I am currently doing some editing of each chapter, making each and everyone up to par with the rest that I written. I feel like my skills have developed over time writing this book and some parts I feel like I rushed.
So be patient. I promise there will continue to be updates on the new chapters as well.
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