The rest of that shift was uneventful. Once dayshift arrived, I gave report on the new admission, and my other patient too. I wash my hands, use the restroom, and wash my hands again.
Never get into a car with a full bladder.
I leave the hospital by the ER exit on my way to the parking lot.
From the driver’s seat, I wrap my stethoscope back in its place of honor around the rearview mirror, lowering the driver’s side window so the cool morning air can keep me awake on the drive home.
It’s seven forty-three am. Simon is getting Maddie ready for school about now, I think to myself. The morning sky is overcast, good weather for daytime sleeping. I can get in a few solid hours of sleep before Maddie comes home from school.
While sliding the key into the ignition, my cell phone rings. It’s Simon.
“Hey Nik, it’s me. How was your night?”
“Uneventful. What’s up?”
“”I made Maddie pancakes for breakfast and used up the last of the eggs and milk. Would you pick up some on the way home from work? Oh, and some elbow macaroni too. I’m going to make macaroni and cheese for dinner.”
“Why can’t you do it after you take Maddie to school?”
“Because, love, I have a job interview at Woodman at 10, remember? I need to come home and dress the part.”
“Sorry, I forgot. What about after that?” I whined.
“No good. I have to get home and put together dinner before picking Maddie up from school. The play-offs start today.”
“Can’t you record the play-offs and watch them later?”
“Okay, I’ll stop at the store on my way home. Milk, eggs, and elbow macaroni, right?”
“Oh, and get some cheddar cheese. I just looked in the fridge. We’re out of cheddar cheese too.”
“Broccoli? Yeah, broccoli. Maddie needs to eat more vegetables. See you when you wake up, Hon. Love you!”
“Yeah. Okay. Me too. And Simon, good luck with the job interview. I know you’re the best candidate.”
I start the ignition, and drive home the long way, so I can stop at the store, feeling guilty I forgot about Simon’s job interview this morning. I should try to be a better wife.
Entering the grocery store, I perk up thinking that the good thing about early morning shopping is that there’s not a whole lot of people. The lines are short, and I can get in and out quickly. I grab a cart, mostly just to have something to lean against while going up and down the aisles after standing most of the night.
A distracted woman is pushing a cart with a boy sitting in it who looks about two years old. Alongside trails his brother, who looks about four. The kid in the cart is playing with a can of spray paint.
I know what happens next before it happens.
The two year-old takes the lid off of the can and in doing so sprays black paint all over his face. Screaming, he drops the can to the floor where it spins around on its side like one of those pinwheel fireworks, spraying black paint instead of sparks everywhere, because its nozzle is broken.
Now the woman and both her children are screaming and crying. The store manager appears, and disables the can. Someone yells, “Call 911!”
I go over to offer help. I’m wearing scrubs, and identify myself as a nurse. The two year-old is crying, but otherwise he’s not in visible distress. Most of the paint is on his chin and neck. Little was ingested, but I don’t know if inhaled fumes are dangerous or not.
I tell the store manager, “Call the poison control center number printed on the side of the can. They can advise us what to do.” The grocery store has a pharmacy, and if Poison Control advises vomiting, I figure Ipecac is probably available. My own phone is in my car.
The store manager stares at me blankly.
Turning my attention to the two children and their mother, I try to calm them. This turns out to be impossible. They continue to scream and cry.
Then a man runs up informing us that he has called 911.
By now a small group of people have gathered and are staring.
Relieved, I hear the sirens of the fire truck bringing the paramedics as it pulls into the parking lot.
I roll my cart to the checkout line. There’s nothing more I can do.
I overhear one of the paramedics ask as he arrives on the scene, “Has anyone contacted Poison Control?”