I’m offering the prologue and chapter 1 through my website! Read below!
Today is the day I have been waiting on for the last three years. My emergency room orientation is ending, and tomorrow I work on the unit as a registered nurse by myself. To celebrate and also for our six-month anniversary, I have a hot date with my boyfriend, Jake.
I can’t believe I met this great man just as I was about to finish nursing school. At the time, I was so focused on passing my boards that I didn’t really have time for a boyfriend, but Jake is a persistent man, and I didn’t make him wait very long.
Tonight seems like a beach kind of night. I wasn’t a fan of the sand, but I was looking forward to the end of the night either way. Plus, it’s Jake’s favorite. I really needed the release after the long day I had, and Jake was just the man to help me relieve this stress, if you know what I mean.
“Regan, I need you to move out of South Beach over to the central area,” Cheryl, my charge nurse kindly informs me. Damn, I am not going to get out of here on time tonight. I have two hours, before it gets dark on the beach. I hope we can still make it. I know I shouldn’t bitch about my job. There are several new grads that have competed for a job at Tampa General Hospital and I was lucky to have this job, but I was on my third twelve-hour day this week.
“Regan, I need you to finish getting report from Liz. She has several charts to finish, and Liz needs to leave soon,” Cheryl says, reminding me that my last two hours aren’t going to be easy.
“Let me grab the report sheet, and I will be ready when you are.” I call over to Liz.
Grabbing the sheet, I walk over and begin listening to Liz give all the details. “The patient in room one is an overdose. There are several drugs involved, which are heroin, cocaine, and my favorite, Xanax. Her benzodiazepine level is through the roof. We gave her some Narcan, and she perked up some. We are waiting for a bed in ICU with a psych consult. The patient in room two is a severe COPD. She is on four liters of oxygen. She also received two breathing treatments. We are waiting for a bed on the medical step-down unit. The patient in room three is a male with chronic kidney failure. He is twenty-nine years old, and is advancing into congestive heart failure. The dialysis shunt is blocked, so we are waiting for radiology to come and put a temporary one in. Once he is admitted, he will go to the dialysis unit. The patient in room four is a twenty-six year old male, MVA. Someone has been trying to reach his family and checking to see if he is an organ donor. He also has no brain function according to the EEG.”
“Thanks Regan, for getting report. My kid has a 101 temp, and my babysitter is pitching a fit,” Liz says, rushing out of the door.
Taking a deep breath and mentally cataloging the patients, I realize I’m not getting out on time. Pulling out my phone, I send a quick text to Jake.
Regan: Hey honey. The E.R. is a hot mess tonight. There is no way I will be out on time. I will come over when I get out and spend the night. I’m off tomorrow, so we can still do something then I promise. I love you, my gorgeous man!
Since the rest of the patients seem stable, I need to check on the patient in room four. I have to check his vitals and document them every fifteen minutes, just in case he is a organ donor. Organ donation is a big deal at this hospital, and the man in room four might possibly be a donor. Getting everything documented is priority right now, until we have all the facts for sure. The patient is still waiting to be identified, and we have to stay on top of the situation just in case. Over one hundred people can potentially benefit from an organ donation, and I was sure going to try my best not to let anyone down.
Entering the room, my whole world suddenly stops. I’m screaming so loud I can’t comprehend anything at the moment. Cheryl runs into the room trying to figure out what’s wrong, but I can’t even answer her. I drop to my knees and cry uncontrollably. My Jake is lying there in the bed with wires and IVs hooked up everywhere. My heart is breaking into pieces, and there isn’t anything I can do to save the man I love.
I wake up startled, but quickly realize I’m on the couch. I don’t even remember getting home.
“Regan. Come on, honey. You need some hot tea,” Jamie says, startling me again. I didn’t even realize she was here.
“I’m not thirsty, Jamie. Thank you, but I don’t want it.”
“Regan, I’m not playing. You need to drink and get something to eat. It’s been twelve hours since I brought you home, and you haven’t even gone to the bathroom,” Jamie says in a concerned voice.
“It’s called a fucking nurses’ bladder. You know I can work a sixteen-hour shift and not go. Listen Jamie, I’m sorry. I know you are just trying to help. I will drink some tea, if you add a little whiskey to it.”
“I gave you an Ambien last night. I don’t think it’s very wise for you to mix alcohol with it,” Jamie says.
“I need to call Jake’s parents to check on them and also try and help set up the arrangements. Jamie, I don’t know if I can do this.”
“I’m going to be right here with you. I will help you every step of the way,” Jamie encourages me.
“I don’t know what I would do without you helping me. Thanks for being my best friend,” I say hugging her closely.
Jamie and I got the bright idea we were going to become nurses, when we were doing our volunteer work for high school. We met some airheaded nurses that day and figured if an airhead could become a nurse, we could too. For the last eight years, we have been inseparable.
I sit on the couch for another two hours trying to build up the courage to call Jake’s parents. I met William and Ruth one time when they came from Chicago to visit Jake. William was funny and very loveable, like a big teddy bear. His beer-gut belly made me want to squeeze him tighter when I hugged him. Ruth was a sharp-witted woman. She had no trouble with eye contact, and would stare you down in an intimidating way. I have often wondered how they are even together. After spending an evening eating dinner with them, it was clear who the boss was in that relationship. Ruth made me uncomfortable all throughout the dinner. But Jake was the peacekeeper and had no problem telling Ruth she was being very inappropriate. Believe me when I say, that meal could not get done quick enough.
“Jamie, I don’t know how to talk to Jake’s parents about this,” I say nervously.
“Knowing how Ruth is, she will most likely be doing all the talking.”
“I don’t know how to discuss funeral arrangements with them about their only child. Nothing I say will be good enough, and there isn’t a sufficient amount of drugs to medicate me after this conversation. I think we need to go to Jake’s apartment and see if he had a will. Ruth will try and make this into a crazy affair that Jake wouldn’t want. At least his driver’s license indicated he was an organ donor,” I rambled. “Will you go with me? I can’t go over there by myself.”
“Sure, let me get some clothes on,” Jamie says, heading towards the guest bedroom.
Heading to my bedroom, I put on black yoga pants, a black tank top, and my black flip flops. Then I twist my hair into a bun on top of my head. Even after swiping a makeup wipe around my face and brushing my teeth, I still looked like hell on wheels. Jamie comes sashaying into the room in a summer maxi dress, her hair also in a bun, and her four-inch wedges. Jamie’s makeup is done to perfection. Somehow in twenty minutes, she is completely runway ready. I envy that about her—it would take me over an hour to make myself just presentable. I know in my mind that I’m just stalling because I’m not ready to face all the memories in Jake’s apartment. Just thinking about entering his apartment has my stomach in knots. At least I have my best friend for moral support, even though I know this is probably going to shatter my heart even more.