Raquel and I sit at a bar, gazing out of its panoramic window at a view of the Pacific Ocean. The sun has just dipped below the horizon, leaving the sky a nameless shade of twilight. It’s my favorite color.
I lick the salt off of the rim of my margarita before taking a sip.
Ke$ha singing, “It’s going down, I’m yellin’ timber! You better move, you better dance,” indicates I’ve received a text message. My phone is next to my drink on the bar. It’s Corey.
Thinking about you. Hope ur having fun
Raquel grabs my phone and checks the message. Before I can stop her, she texts,
Wish my hands were on your hot ass
and hits “send.”
Giggling uncontrollably, I grab the phone away from her and text,
I’m with Raquel
To prove it I take a selfie of us with our drinks.
Very nice, Corey texts back. Good looks run in your family Have fun
“So tell me about Corey,” Raquel begins. “Show me a photo. What’s he like?”
I show her pictures of Corey on my phone.
“Oh, he’s hot!”
“I like him.”
I’m not entirely comfortable talking about my relationship with Corey even with Raquel, who I tell everything.
“He’s married though, right?” continues Raquel.
“Yeah, he’s married. In a way it’s a plus: We see each other at work, and then after our shifts at my place. There’s none of the daily, boring obligations that make relationships difficult. My evenings are free for Maddie. She gets all my attention. I have control of my time. It kinda works for me. But it’s light years from our upbringing, Raquel. I mean Mom and Dad have a hard time accepting my divorce. They’ve stayed married through thick and thin, even Dad’s ‘lapse of judgment,’ as Mom calls it. They can’t know about Corey, Raquel. They’ll be furious.”
“You know I don’t tell them about our personal lives, Niki, relax. I need another drink, what about you?” Raquel waves a twenty at the bartender.
There’s a ruckus in a far corner of the bar. Someone yells, “Call 911! And then, “Is there a doctor in the house?”
I can’t believe anyone still asks, “Is there’s a doctor in the house?” Outside of a hospital, with its specialized equipment, doctors are pretty much on the same playing field as nurses when it comes to aiding a victim. The procedure is the same for either. I leave my stool and investigate.
“I’m a nurse, let me through,” I say while pushing my way past a circle of people.
On the floor, a man is convulsing head to toe; his eyes open and rolled back in his head. Drool collects in foamy bits at the corners of his mouth. I instantly recognize a seizure, common occurrences on a pediatric unit. I can practically manage them in my sleep.
Kneeling on the floor, I cradle his head in my lap. He’s breathing normally. I feel for a pulse; it’s strong. Hoping to learn the cause, I look for a medical alert bracelet or necklace, but there isn’t one.
“I called 911. They’re coming,” announces a woman identifying herself as the bar’s manager.
There are three important things to do for someone having a seizure:
Protect them from injuring themselves.
Make sure they are breathing and have a pulse. Initiate CPR if they don’t.
Protect them from uneducated bystanders. You can’t believe how many people want to pour alcohol or a sports drink down the throat of an unconscious person. This case is no exception.
“Here, give him a shot of whiskey,” offers a young man extending a glass towards me.
“No, thanks. I’m just going to sit here with him until the EMTs arrive. All we’re going to do is make sure he keeps breathing, and doesn’t hurt himself.” I glance at my “patient” who continues to convulse.
“But what if his blood sugar is low? What if he’s in pain?” the young man challenges.
Really? Where do people come up with this stuff? I thought the ‘give him a shot of alcohol’ remedy expired when John Wayne stopped making movies.
A few other bystanders mumble agreement with the dude holding the shot glass. I feel obligated to explain.
“He’s unconscious. If we pour something into his mouth he could inhale it into his lungs, or vomit, and then inhale the vomit. If that happens, he won’t be able to breathe.”
The lack of a further response indicates that my point is received.
The EMTs arrive as the convulsions stop. The man is slow to respond, and mumbling nonsense, probably postictal. I gently roll him sideways in recovery position. It appears he came to the bar alone. No one steps forward to claim him. The EMTs load him on a stretcher, and then wheel him to the ambulance outside. They’re not interested in the length of the seizure, despite the fact that I timed it for them. In nursing school, I was taught to time a seizure.
Back at the bar, Raquel and I finish our drinks.
“You’re always a nurse, aren’t you Niki?” she observes.
“Yeah. I like to say that nursing is a ‘social license’.”