Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sometimes the Heart Knows How

Back in my home-care nursing days I managed to become known as the rescue-er of flattened dogs and lost babies. The baby was when I was on my way to a daily wound care. The patient liked to get her visit over with very early in the morning. Probably because she wasn't being compliant with the required homebound status, but we were on a "don't ask and don't tell" relationship. One day, on the way to her house at about 7 AM, a little tyke in a diaper-and I mean just a diaper and nothing else-dashed across the road in front of all the cars stopped at the red light. He went straight to the entrance of a convenient store. No one seemed the least bit concerned-except me (of course). I parked immediately and fetched him. Asked around, but no one knew him. Called the cops. Helped look for his parents. Soothed him when he was taken away by squad car to the emergency children's home. This was in the days before cell phones, but I used a pay phone to notify the office I'd be running late and they called all my patients for me. Of course I regaled everyone for the rest of the day with tales of my big adventure. All the patients wanted to know ALL the juicy details. For many of them it was the most exciting event of their week. I was hailed as a local hero. After work I called the police station to inquire about the little fellow. They were all like "Is this the nurse from (name of hospital)?" The kid had been re-united with his parents. The officers were openly admiring of my quick thinking and smooth maneuvers to save this child. Situation could've ended much worse.

(I had the fire department like putty in my hands for a while too, but that's whole "nuther story.)

Another time, while on the way to a diabetic's house for her insulin injection, I spied a tiny bit of half-flattened fluff on the street. It was a little dog that had been hit. Still alive but the back legs looked paralyzed. I simply could not stop to call animal control right then. Can't be late for the diabetics you know. So, I scooped him up in a disposable gown, plopped him in a basket that was in the trunk, and took him along to the home visit. It was a hot day and I didn't want to leave him inside the car, so I put him just outside the front door of the patient's house and told the inhabitants to stay away from him. Of course, the husband of my patient completely disobeyed that order, and the little dog BIT him. Boy, animal control sure got involved then! And the administrator on call. And my supervisor. And, probably the board of trustees for all I know. This time they weren't quite so accomodating. "Should have let the d#@n dog die!" (to quote one of my co-workers).

Next I added "savior of run-away kids" to my Curriculum Vitae. It was after I had left doing home-care and gone to the nurse advise line. My supervisor called one evening and asked me to come in and help out at work. For some reason I felt like telling her no. She was surprised. I'm usually flexible. But, I had made plans for a walk in the gently falling snow*, so, I just said "no". On my route I wandered down by the highway-something I rarely do. There, sitting on a large rock, was a good size boy. He smiled at me, and I smiled at him. I said, "I'm Jimmy's mom." He said, "Who is Jimmy?" I said, "Uh, you don't live in this neighborhood, do you?" (Because, come on, EVERYBODY knows Jimmy!) The story came out. He was a runaway. I was afraid he'd run again but it soon became apparent he was too tired to do anything but follow me home. He had already walked at least 8 miles, and probably more since he had lost his way for a while. Poor kid could barely put one foot ahead of the other. We were both wishing I had brought the car instead of heading out on foot. At home I handed him off to Jimmy** to watch TV together and to have someone of his age group to hang out with while we fed him, hydrated him, and called his grandmother in another state-(she alerted the authorities). His mother was duly checked out (she had been arrested for child neglect previously, and the boy didn't know it, but his dad was incarcerated at the time). Everything got worked out and the child did eventually get returned to his home. His grandmother called me the next day with the whole sorry story. Her hands are tied for legal reasons until he turns 18, but, she has every plan to help him as much as possible when she can. She was deeply grateful for our intervention. She kept saying "If the wrong person had picked him up..."

This time, with my reputation already firmly in place, no one was even surprised. In fact they'd be surprised if I WASN'T out on the rescue. Boss said to refuse to come to work any time it seemed a good idea. Figured I should just always follow my intuition.***

*Because big, fat, fluffy snow-flakes that float down softly in warm-enough weather to melt them on contact are NOT the kind that pester me.

**Jimmy really came through too. Later he told us he he had been "kind of surprised" (yeah, I bet!) when a stranger kid was tossed in his room, but he figured we knew what we were doing, so, he'd just go with it.

***But, what's going on? Am I like some kind of magnet for these types situations?

(I know that I am positively a magnet for crazies, but those stories are better left

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