Silence IV

This is part of a series. Refer to the Blog Index if you wish to read them in order.

I like to think I have the best team. All incoming nurses and interns vie for a position on my unit. I work my team hard but fair, and never ask them to put in more than I’m putting in. As such I’ve never had the energy to vet who I bring on. If I have to let someone go or someone actually quits, I have an immediate replacement. I never bother to screen them. If they think they’re good enough for my unit I give them a try. If they prove they aren’t I ask that they be transferred and someone else is placed with me. Easy.

And because it’s so easy and because my team is the best it’s been a very long time since I’ve had to let anyone go or lost anyone. So to say I was surprised by the gross lack of respect and sheer selfishness I saw on display in the break room tonight would be putting it lightly. It was especially surprising coming from miss Ditmire. I suppose there was something to that, seeing as how she could never stop talking. In fact, the only time I’d heard her quiet was for all of five minutes when she didn’t know I was there…which is probably why she wasn’t talking.

It was a few months back, when my insomnia was flaring up. I’d been unable to sleep at home and after accidentally waking my husband, who promised he’d start work on the addition to hold my exercise equipment that very day if I would just please go back to bed or leave before I woke the kids, I’d come back to the hospital to get an early start on the day. It was a relief really since my insomnia that night had more to do with a young patient than my usual unexplained bouts of sleeplessness. The girl was so young, just like my Janey before we adopted her, when she first came to foster with us. She had this look of nonchalance…no, more like she was unaffected, but really she was scared. So scared. I just had to make sure this little girl wasn’t scared, too.

After checking on her, she was sleeping peacefully among all the wires and tubes and beeping machines, I stopped by the nurses station to review my charts and there she was: nurse Ditmire. Silent. Sitting completely quiet in one chair with her feet up on the other eating what appeared to be a cupcake. I’ve never been so surprised. Until today. So while nurse Ditmire could talk a blue streak, I’d never before thought her cruel until that moment.

I’d all but decided to ask for her transfer later today when I was walking by the station and saw her give me a look. Her eyebrows shot up and she said “Easton” and I knew. Of course I wouldn’t make her handle that call. No one should have to handle those calls, but especially not a woman who’d just shown her complete lack of compassion. I motioned I’d take the call and hustled to my office. Taking a deep breath I clicked the button with the blinking red light.

“Mr. Easton? Dr. Voss. I’m going to need you to verify your identity by answering a couple of questions before we can proceed. Please tell me your fathers full name.”

“My fa,” there was the sound of a throat being cleared,” my father was Joesuf Paul Easton. With an f, not a ph.”

“Was?” I asked.

“I was told he died when I was young. Is there something…”

“And your mothers full name, please?” I interrupted.

“I, uh, I’m not entirely sure. I wasn’t raised by my parents. Only know my fathers name because of my aunt who raised me.”

“I see. Well, Mr. Easton, due to the nature of the situation I am going to take it on faith that you are the correct contact. Your father, Joe-s-u-f,” and here he spelled it out to be clear, “Paul Easton is here in the hospital now. His sister, Marlena Paula Easton, is his first emergency contact and we’ve been unable to reach her. You, his son, are his second emergency contact. I’m going to need you to come in as soon as possible to tell us how to proceed.”

It was silent on the other end. I didn’t hear the phone line disconnect, or the phone being dropped, or an intake of breath. There was nothing to indicate Mr. Easton was on the other end. Nothing at all. Just silence.

“Mr. Easton?” I asked.

But there was only silence.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

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