The Girl Most Likely To ...
by Barbara Lynn Terry
Part V - At the hospital.
Gloria and Mandy just made it to the hospital as the paramedics were taking Ruth in to the Emergency Room entrance. They parked in the ER parking lot, and went in and talked to the receptionist. They were told to have a seat, because the doctor may want to talk to them.
They sat down in the small waiting area, you so commonly see in Emergency Rooms. It seemed to take forever, but then a young nurse came out and called for "family" of Ruth Watkins.
Gloria and Mandy got up, and followed her to the examination room, where they saw Ruth with an IV in her arm, wires monitoring her heart and a tube in her mouth. The doctor was a young man, slim and had a nice smile.
"Can you tell me how she got like this?"
"Yes, doctor," Gloria answered him. "She was beaten by her husband and he even threw against the living room wall. The police are going to meet him because he said he wanted to talk to the officers that took his son to the detention center."
"Was his son involved in the domestic violence?"
"No, he attacked my daughter at Pine Center Mall, earlier today when we were shopping. The police arrested the son at the mall."
"I see. Well, her injuries are not life threatening at the moment, but we are going to keep her under close observation. This nurse will be with her until the end of her shift and then another nurse will take over. When we move her to a room, she will have a nurse in her room 24/7 until we know for sure she is out of danger. Right now, she seems to be in a coma. She is not responsive to touch or speech. But, she is breathing on her own, and the aerator is just a precaution."
"May we stay with her, doctor?"
"Yes, and try talking to her. She may be unconscious, but her hearing is intact. I'm sure she will come out of it okay, but it is hard to say when."
"Thank you, doctor." The doctor smiled a weak smile, then left.
The nurse that was in the room, was sitting at a computer, and every now and then looked at the monitors by Ruth's bed. She was young with her long blonde hair in an upsweep to keep it out of her eyes.
"Ruth, sweetie, this is Gloria. We came to be here with you while you get better. I promise we won't leave until they tell us to go. Mandy is here with me."
"You can stay as long as you like, Miss, since you are the closest people she has to 'family'."
"Thank you, nurse."
"My name is Stacie. I am the second shift nurse for this section."
"My name is Gloria and this is Mandy. She was there for my daughter, so we are going to be here for her."
"It is nice to have 'family' like that. We have many patients whose families don't even bother to visit."
"That is sad, Stacie. I wonder how they would feel if they were in the hospital, and nobody came to see them?"
"That is a good question. I bet they wouldn't like it at all."
"Ruth, this is Mandy, I'm going to be here too until they say I have to leave. Your nurse is Stacie and she said we could stay as long as we want to. Ruth, Gloria and I are going to be here in shifts, making sure you are not alone. Gloria will be here until in the morning, and then I will come back and be with you all day. We will let the girls know what we are doing."
"Stacie, if you are the nurse for this section, then who is watching your patients?
"They have a floater that will take over for me, as long as I am assigned to watch over Ruth."
Just then the alarms started going off, and Gloria and Mandy moved quickly away from the bed. Just then the intercom went off.
"Code blue, A361, code blue, A361, code blue, A361."
The doctor rushed in to the room, and began examining Ruth. He ordered a medicine to be put in to Ruth's IV.
"All cear, A361, all clear, A361."
"Nurse, notify Dr. Atkins. I think he will want to do a heart cath."
"Right away, doctor."
"Doctor? Will she be all right?"
"If she has had what I think she has had, I am hoping that she will be."
"What do you think she had?"
"I think it was a heart attack, but I won't be sure until Dr. Atkins does a heart cath. He's a cardiologist, so he will tell me what is what. The medicine she got through her IV has stabilized her for now. She may have heart damage because of her injuries. I'm surprised she has no broken bones."
Five minutes later, Dr. Richard Atkins, MD came in the room. He was a tall man, thick red hair, and juvenile freckles that made him look younger than his thirty eight years. He immediately examined Ruth and ordered her moved to the heart cath lab, stat. Nurse Stacie wasted no time in getting all the tubes and wires situated, and started moving Ruth's bed to the cath lab.
Gloria and Mandy stayed in the room, and waited for them to bring Ruth back. The two women were very frightened for their new friend. She not only was there for Renée when it was needed, but refused to agree with her son when the police officer pushed him in to the elevator. Gloria and Mandy weren't overly religious, but they knelt on the room floor and said a prayer for Ruth.
It seemed like ages before the nurse came back to Ruth's room.
"Ladies, Ruth has had a heart attack, and because of that, she is being moved to AICU. You are welcome to come along. She will be Dr. Atkins patient from now on."
They followed the nurse to adult intensive care, and was there when the AICU nurse came in.
"My name is Joe, and you are down here as family for Ruth. You can come in any time day or night, or you can spend the night, as you wish. I will be in and out, often. It says here that she is in a coma. That may be good, or it may be bad. If there are any changes, even slight changes, let me know right away."
"Yes, Joe, we certainly will," Gloria stated.
Gloria gave Amanda Peters her car keys and told her to take the car to "our" home and let everybody know what was going on, and come back in the morning. Mandy took the car keys and gave her friend a sisterly hug, kissed Ruth on her forehead, and left.
Gloria sat there watching her friend sleep, and hoped that she would wake up soon. The problem with comas is, they can stop as quick as they came. A coma patient has been known to be in a coma for only a matter of hours and then wake up. Gloria Richards was hoping her friend would wake up. Joe came back in the room, and checked Ruth's IV line, and gave her some more medicine in her IV.
"What was that you gave her, Joe?"
"It's a mild pain reliever. Her monitor shows she is in distress, so we needed to make sure she had this. We can see what is going on at the desk as well as in here. There was some flutter on her monitor, and we made sure it wasn't a glitch. I called Dr. Atkins, and he said to give her this. He has also scheduled her for an MRI tomorrow morning, because of the way she was beaten. To tell you the truth, ma'am, I have never seen injuries this extensive from a DV, and I have been a nurse for sixteen years."
"Joe, I'm Gloria, and the lady who was with me, is Mandy."
"I'm sorry we had to meet like this, Gloria."
"I am too, Joe. I hope she wakes up soon."
"That's all of us, Gloria. We have critical patients we kind of adopt, and Ruth is one of those. We are pulling for her, too." Joe checked Ruth's IV line one more time, then left.
Gloria sat in the chair next to Ruth's bed, and held her hand. She had a pained expression on her face, as she started talking to Ruth, again.
"Ruth, please sweetie, please wake up. I and everybody at home is worried about you. We all want you to come back and live with us. Please, Ruth, please wake up."
Gloria knew that Ruth could hear her, but couldn't respond. Maybe, Gloria thought, just maybe, if Ruth knew how much everybody was wanting her to wake up she could. She heard that sometimes, when a person is beaten the way Ruth had been, that the person may withdraw in to themselves and may not want to wake up.
"Ruth, we all love you, and we want you to come back to us. Besides, girlfriend, I need a partner for canasta."
Gloria watched Ruth's eye lids moving, and knew she must be dreaming. Whether she was having a nightmare or just a dream, Gloria couldn't tell. Joe came back in to observe the patient. Even though the nurses can monitor the patient at the nurses desk, the nurse must also, from time to time, observe the patient, personally. Joe saw the eye lids moving, and saw the questioning look in Gloria's eyes.
"She's dreaming. Whether it is a good dream or a nightmare, nobody will be able to tell, and she will not remember any dreams she has had while in the coma. When she comes out of the coma, she may be disoriented for a bit, wondering where she is at. She may not even remember how she got here, or why she is here. We can only hope this doesn't cause her to have seizures. It has been known to happen.
"Well, anyway Joe, the police aren't going to arrest her husband for domestic violence; they're going to arrest him for attempted murder."
"Well, with her hospital reports, and what Dr. Atkins did in the cath lab, I'm sure the jury won't have any trouble convicting him."
"If you call the police number, you just tell them to tell squad forty seven that Ruth Devereaux Watkins is in AICU in a coma. I think they will want to be here to see this."
"Thank you, Miss."
"Joe, I'm Gloria. Remember?"
"Oh, uhm, yes, sorry."
"Joe, I'm also married, and I love my husband very much."
Joe cleared his throat, and did one of those motions, like he was loosening his collar.
"Right. I'm sorry, Gloria."
"No harm done. I just wanted you to know that not all marriages have violent partners. Ruth, sweetie, this is Gloria, honey. Please wake up. Honey, if you keep sleeping, you're going to miss Christmas, and at our house, Christmas is something very special. We tell 'campfire' stories in the traditional Christmas way. We even give presents to the people we buy them for. What I mean is, if Carl buys me a present, he gives me that present, and I give Carl the present I bought for him. It makes Christmas more special that way. Oh Ruth, sweetie, I am your friend, and I, Mandy, Carl, Renée and Sandi will make sure nobody ever hurts you again. Please wake up."
All the time Gloria was talking to Ruth, she held Ruth's hand. Gloria was so very worried about her friend. She just couldn't sit there watching her sleep, without trying different ways of talking, that would wake Ruth up.
"All right, Ruth Devereaux Watkins, you are not going to be lazing around this hospital forever. I want you to come and live with us. You deserve a decent family, and that is what we will give you. You will be one of the Richards household. You will have your own room, and you will be able to use the house as your own. Even Mandy and Sandi are going to live with us. We are going to be one happy family. You'll see. You won't ever have to worry. Carl protects us very well, and God help anybody who tries to hurt us. They better hope the police get them before Carl does.
"Carl isn't a violent man, but he can't stand to see men or strong boys picking on girls and women. When you come to live with us, you will have that protection, too."
As Gloria was holding Ruth's hand, Gloria felt a weak squeeze. She looked at Ruth's hand and saw it move.
"Ruth, if you can hear me, squeeze my hand once." Ruth squeezed her hand. "Oh thank God!" Gloria pressed the nurses button and Joe came in the room. "She squeezed my hand, Joe. Ruth, squeeze my hand again, please."
When Joe saw Ruth squeeze Gloria's hand, he said he would be right back, because he needed to call Dr. Atkins. When Joe came back in the room, Ruth had her eyes open.
"Don't try talking, Ruth, I have to take the tube out." After Joe removed the aerator, he asked Ruth how she felt.
Joe just smiled, and said that because the aerator had been for several hours, she should only have liquids for now.
"I will get you some orange juice, and some apple sauce." Joe left to get the refreshments.
Dr. Atkins wasted no time in getting to Ruth's bedside. "You gave us quite a scare, young lady. Now, I don't want you getting worried, because we took care of the problem, but while you were in the coma, you had a heart attack. We figured it was because of your injuries. We placed two stents in the arteries leading to the bottom of your heart. If you take care of yourself, and exercise according to how they teach you in cardiac rehab, you will be fine."
"I have to have rehab?"
"Yes, cardiac rehab. It is an exercise program especially for cardiac patients. They have recumbent exercise bikes, stair steppers, treadmills, and they will even have you walk a mile they designate by markers. Or, as much of the mile as you can."
"When, when do I start this cardiac rehab?"
"Somebody from cardiac rehab will be up to see you sometime today. It is six in the morning, and I am going to have the dietician come up and see how well you can eat solid food. I had an aerator placed in your esophagus as a precaution, just in case you stopped breathing on your own. Your throat is going to be swollen slightly, and sore for a while."
"Dr. is it okay if I give her this orange juice and apple sauce?"
"Yes, Joe. I want to see how well she can swallow soft things."
Joe raised the head of Ruth's bed, and helped her sip the orange juice. "Just sip, Ruth, don't guzzle. You have an IV in your arm to keep you hydrated, so you shouldn't be that thirsty, except to maybe moisten your mouth a little."
Ruth took two sips, and laid her head back on the pillow. "Ruth, are you going to be all right?"
"Good morning, Gloria, isn't it?"
"Yes, dear, I'm Gloria Richards."
"Oh! Yes! The lady whose daughter was attacked by my uncontrollable son."
"Honey, don't blame yourself. You couldn't have stopped Roger if you tried. He is way stronger than you, and he is only thirteen years old."
"The doctor said I had a heart attack. Is that why I was brought to the hospital?"
"Actually, you were in a coma for several hours. You weren't responding to any touch, or anything else. They have you scheduled for an MRI this morning, to see just how far your injuries go. You blacked out at my house, after telling the police what your husband did, and then saying you were going to help me get dinner started. I asked if you were well enough and you started to say you were in pain, and you collapsed on the floor."
"How long was I asleep?"
"You were in a coma for only under fourteen hours. That isn't a long time as far as comas go, but it was serious enough to worry everybody. Anyway, Ruth, I need to call the house and let everybody know you are okay."
"No, honey, we're here," Carl Richards said, coming in to the room with Mandy, Sandi and Renée. "Good morning, Ruth, did you sleep well?"
"Well, the girls couldn't sleep, and woke me up and pestered me until I gave in to bring them here to see Ruth. Mandy dropped us off at the front door and went to park the car."
"I slept like a log," Ruth answered Carl. Gloria thought to herself, if you only knew, woman, if you only knew. Joe came in the room.
"Ruth, I took the liberty of ordering you a soft diet for now. Orange juice, milk, apple sauce, but you can't have that until you come back from your MRI, which they should be up shortly. The doctor wants you to have it as early as possible. By the way, all the nurses here are very happy that you're awake. You had us very worried."
"Everybody was worried about me?"
"Yes, Ruth," Gloria answered her. "You gave us quite a scare. I have been here all night, just so you wouldn't be alone."
"You did that for me? But, we hardly know each other."
"Ruth, I am very sorry to be the bearer of glad tidings, but you are moving in with us. The police called and said you husband has been arrested for attempting to kill you. He was arrested three hours after you had been brought here."
"But, why are you going through all this trouble, just for me?"
"Because, Ruth," Mandy said, coming in to the room, "You need a family, and you need protection. Carl is a very decent man, but he hates men and strong boy bullies who pick on those weaker than themselves. Do you remember anything of what your husband did, and said while he was hitting you?"
"Yes. I remember going home from the mall, and when Scott asked me where Roger was, I told him what happened and that the police took him to the detention center. That is when he lost his temper and started shouting I should have stopped them from taking him, and I should have kept him with me. Then he started hitting me and hitting me, and then he said he was going to kill me, and threw me against the living room wall."
"That is all I needed to hear, Mrs. Watkins," said the officer who pushed Roger in to the elevator. "Your husband has been arrested and charged with attempted, first degree homicide. He will have an arraignment hearing this morning to appoint an attorney for him and to set bail. Will you be brave enough to testify against him?"
"Yes, I want that monster in prison for the rest of his life."
"All right, then, as soon as the doctor says you are well enough, we will see if the district attorney can schedule his trial for one month after you are released from here. I will talk to the doctor and see when that can be. If you are still here when his preliminary hearing comes up, you can testify from here via closed circuit tv. Nobody but the court and those here, can see and hear what is going on."
"I hope I am in the courtroom, when the jury finds that sick bastard guilty. I want to see the look on his face, when he realizes that the world is not according to Scott Derrick Watkins."
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