Blake was awake when Virginia entered the ICU cubicle. She pushed a chair against the hospital bed so she could hold his hand.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” he said.
Virginia looked at the tiny lines etched on his face. She wished she had magical powers and could erase them and all the pain he had endured the last few days since the accident. “The nurse said I could sit with you. Where’s your father?”
“Stephen took him home to sleep for a while. He’ll be back later.”
Blake shifted toward her and released a groan. “I hate to see you hurting.”
“My nurse was just here asking if I wanted pain medicine. He’s coming back. I would have waited to take the pain killer if I had known a beautiful woman would be stopping by to visit.”
“Good,” she said. “I’m glad you’re not one of those macho men who think it’s not masculine to take pain medicine when you need it.”
“Normally I wouldn’t. But since I’ve had surgery on my leg and I’m dealing with cracked ribs, a punctured lung, and a ruptured diaphragm, I’m willing to compromise my macho image and take the pain killers.”
Virginia frowned at the reminder of what he had been through. The nurse returned with a syringe in his hand. He scanned Blake’s armband and the barcode on the syringe then made a few clicks at the bedside computer.
As he pushed the medication into Blake’s IV line, he said, “Mr. Oliver, this will help with the pain, but it will make you drowsy. Sleep’s not a bad thing since your body needs rest to heal.”
Virginia smiled, knowing he would be escaping from his pain if only for a while. “I’m going to sit here and hold your hand until they throw me out.”
Blake’s eyes flickered open and shut a few times then remained closed. She whispered a prayer for strength, to help her be strong for him. The beeps of the heart monitor became rapid and other alarms sounded. Blake’s nurse rushed into the cubicle. He hit the red button on the wall and shouted, “I need help in here. He’s in V-fib.”
Virginia jumped up from her chair as the space filled with hospital personnel. She was pushed back and then outside. Leaning against the full-length window to support her trembling legs, she was aware of the dampness of her skin. Terror gripped her heart as she watched the surreal scene through the glass partition. The nurse performed chest compressions and in the dream state dominating her consciousness, she wondered if Blake’s chest would hurt later from the contact. Unable to move, her mind became mesmerized by the organized events unfolding in front of her.
A man with neatly combed hair in a white coat said, “Give Amiodarone, three hundred milligrams.”
Someone echoed, “Pushing Amiodarone, three hundred milligrams.”
Another set of hands gave the man paddles attached to the defibrillator on the crash cart. “Set to two hundred joules. Clear,” he said as placed the paddles on Blake’s chest and discharged the shock, causing his body to jump. Virginia watched as everyone paused and then someone uttered the words, ‘sinus rhythm,’ which brought a collective sigh of relief. Most everyone dispersed leaving only a few people at the bedside.
Blake’s nurse came to her and said, “He’s stable, but he’ll be sleeping for awhile. We’ll be watching him closely.”
Virginia brushed at the tears on her cheek. The nurse took a box of tissue from the counter and pushed it toward her. “I know this was a harsh thing to witness. You should go, try to rest and you can come back later.”
“Will he be all right? Could this happen again?”
“Mr. Oliver’s body has been through a lot. But he’s young and healthy. I’m sorry, but I need to get back inside.”
“Please, take care of him.” These were the same words she uttered as she passed the nurses’ station after each visit. But this time, the words were a special plea after witnessing how precarious his medical situation was. If she stayed, her heart would once again be vulnerable as in the past.
Virginia turned and walked away, trying to process what had happened as she moved toward the waiting room to call Blake’s father. The pain in her heart was genuine. An intense pain that went beyond her heart and stirred her soul. Was this what it felt like to lose someone who had become so entwined in your life? She wasn’t sure she would want to go on living if Blake didn’t survive his injuries.