Crystal's StorySite


Hot Crossings

by Rebecca Anne Stewart, Christy Lake, & Misty Dawn




Note: This chapter has been especially hard for me to get through. I tried to portray a scene where the reader could actually feel the pain that the visitors to a cancer ward experiences, without getting into graphic detail. If you want to really experience the love and caring that a tender soul can give during such a trying time, visit a children's cancer ward and see it for yourself. If you can walk away without being touched then perhaps you are not alive...Becky.

Rebecca and Nurse Banks returned to the station and gathered up a ward pass for her companion. Joan pinned it to the pocket of Becky's lab coat and motioned for her to follow. While Rebecca still clutched her own file, Joan folded a few more under her own arm and then preceded the blonde down the corridor and through a set of double doors that bore large signs in bold red on white proclaiming:


Instantly Rebecca's senses were struck with something she had never experienced before. It was not actually an odour but more a feeling. It was a feeling that she was not at all comfortable with. It was fear and uncertainty mixed with hopelessness and despair. Unexpected and unwanted, the sensations impacted like a giant ball. She experienced a brief moment of panic and began to shiver. Rebecca reached for Joan's arm for the reassurance and protection found throughout the morning's trials.

The seasoned nurse knew exactly what was going thru this sensitive woman's very troubled mind. She experienced these same things for over two years since her own training had begun. Joan stopped walking and held onto her friend until Becky's shakes subsided.

"We can skip this part if you want, Becky? We can leave it for another day...but, sooner or later, you will have to go thru these doors."

Frightened nearly to tears, Becky only closed her eyes and mentally talked her self into taking this fearful next step. Her mind knew what she was going to see; she could remember it all too well from a visit to a different clinic. The difference was that that time she had not felt the sudden influx of uncertainty so strong, so nearly overwhelmingly powerful.

"No..." Timidly, hesitantly, she shook her head. "I must do this... I have to face my fear... I will be all right... Just please stay close, Joan."

"No problem, dear I'm right here. I will be right here for you all the way. I know how you feel, because I felt the same way when I first came here two years ago last September. It took me almost a week before I could comfortably open that door and walk thru here without shaking... Want to know something funny?"

"Whaaa?" the little child in Rebecca squeaked. "F-fu-funny?"

"The story goes that..." Joan leaned over and whispered the next words very softly into Becky's ear so that no one else could hear. "The story that's been floating around here is that the first time Pickles came in here, he peed his pants... No! Really. Honest... It's true... If you ask him he'll tell you he spilt his coffee all down the front of his scrubs but everyone else says he peed himself... But I never told you that okay?"

The conniving nurse had accomplished her mission, had momentarily taken her patient's mind off the foreboding trek. She wrapped her arm around the woman's back and they again set off down the hall. With every step, Rebecca swore, the coppery stench of heavy metal and human vomit became stronger. Entering a much larger room they could see a row of cubicles along each wall with a bed and a patient in most every one.

Within most of these stations either a member of the nursing staff or a loved one was attending to the usually prone resident. Rebecca could not look, not yet at any rate. If she were to look, she knew the nurses would be picking her up off the floor, and placing her on one of those beds, and she just wasn't ready for that.

Holding onto Joan firmly, even tighter as they moved slowly, the nurse rightly sensing her patient's returning fright, gently patted and rubbed her shoulder as Becky stepped out, taking it one slow, hesitant step at a time. Joan stopped Becky in front of the nurse's station and placed her bundle of folders on top of the "IN" basket then reached for Rebecca's. This forced her to remove her arm from around her patient's waist. When she felt the slight shiver of her patient at this action, she experienced a similar ripple run the course of her own spine.

"Hello Joan. How are you today?" asked a quiet, friendly voice from across the counter.

"Not bad, Donner... And yourself?" she replied in the same hushed manner. "Hi Robyn," she quietly said and waved at a passing nurse.

"Hey Jo."

"What's happening, Joan?" asked Donna.

Joan introduced Donna as the shift nurse for the adult day treatment area.

Donna gave Becky a knowing, sympathetic look. "How are you holding up, Rebecca?"

Rebecca, quickly picking up on the soft manner that the others used here, replied as quietly as everyone else, "I am doing the best that I could have expected."

"This is Becky's first time here and she will probably become a regular around here soon... she is just going thru assessment now."

"Well despite the circumstances Becky... It's nice to meet you," Donna replied.

Suddenly the semi silence was broken with an intense moan followed instantly by the sound of violent retching only a human pouring their insides out could make. Rebecca grabbed the edge of the counter in front of her and swaying, tried not to think about the noise the poor man was making, feeling that she too was about to be sick herself. Joan quickly reached out and held Rebecca's wrist and Donna held out a box of Kleenex for the shivering woman to use.

"Th-th-thank you," the trembling woman whispered as tears rolled freely down her cheeks.

The first sound of his distress had Robyn moving to attend Mr. Collins, the poor unfortunate who was experiencing the all-too common side effects of chemotherapy.

"Okay, Becky, let's say we've had enough and get out of here for now." Nurse Banks directed.

Rebecca nodded her head and followed weakly as the nurse led the way again. In a few moments they had made their way further down the wing, and rounding the corner Rebecca realized they had made almost a complete circle. They were now in the same wing as nuclear medicine.

"Joan!" someone almost shouted. "Banks!" This time the call was a little louder.

Becky's escort stopped and turned towards the voice that was persistently trying to contact her. "Hey Shelly what's up?"

"Jan Wytte is looking for you," the rushed woman said, as she got a lot closer to them.

"Oh? I was just on the ward. No one said anything."

"That's cause I just told her that I was gonna' dash out for a quick bite, and she said if I saw you to tell you she was looking for you," Shelly said all in one long and breathless rush of sound.

"Oh, okay, I'll go see her right now. Where is she? In your ward still?"

Shelly just shook her head as she was quickly recovering her wind.

"Oh, sorry. Rebecca, this is Shelly Shalimar. Shelly this is Rebecca Stewart."

"Oh! I've heard of you... You gave The Dragon Lady a bit of her own medicine this morning. Good for you, girl!" Shelly popped off, smiling the whole time, cute body jiggling perkily in the snug confines of a colourful, tailored uniform.

Dumbfounded Rebecca just stood there, mouth ajar, watching the girl.

Joan gave the bewildered woman a look and a smile. "Becky you've been holding out on me girl. That's not a nice thing to do to your favourite coordinator. Come on girl spill. Give me details. I want all, I mean all the juicy little tidbits of info," she urged as she took Becky's arm and guided her to another hallway towards yet another wing of the building.

Shelly just laughed at the two retreating figures and said. "I'll catch you two later. Nice to meet you Rebecca."

Entering through another set of doors with a bold red restricted access sign on it, Becky had the same sensations and feelings again, only this time there was a little bit of a difference. The feelings of desolation and gloom were there, except these felt even more desperate. There was also an underlying sensation of joy intermingling with the dark feelings. For the life of her, Rebecca could not figure out where all these powerful, nearly overwhelming feelings were coming from.

"Oh sugar!" Jo exclaimed empathetically, "I should have had you go with Shelly to the cafeteria. I forgot. Ghad, Becky, I'm so sorry. I just brought you back into another ward. I'm sorry. Tell you what just go back out these doors right here and I'll be back in about five minutes okay? I won't be long I promise."

"No." Becky implored, if rather hesitantly. "I want to see this one. I have a different feeling about this one. It's, it is very different from the last. And I don't understand why I feel so different here. I need to know…"

"Are you sure? You don't have to do this... Not a lot of people can handle this ward... Please Becky I would feel better if you went back out." Joan pleaded.

"No Joan for some reason, and for the life of me I don't know why, but I must go in there!" Rebecca insisted rather sharply.

"Okay." She assented. "You just stay close to me, and please, if you feel the need, you just grab on to my sleeve and we will leave. You won't need to say a thing. Okay?"

Nodding her head Becky followed in silence. The same stench, copper and vomit, assaulted her senses when the doors swung closed behind them. What confronted Becky when they rounded the corner was not a sight easily prepared for. Sick children, and there were lots of them. Some, lying on small beds, too sick to even lift their heads; others stared with unseeing, black, sunken, lifeless eyes at the approaching pair.

Rebecca tensed at the sight but somehow, this time, she was not afraid. This time she felt sympathy and love. A boundless love of life was so overpowering it was all she could do to stop from crying on the spot. The Nurse noticed Becky's plight immediately and reached for her arm to escort her away from the emotional scene.

Vigorously Rebecca shook her head and pulled her arm back, refusing the offer of help. "No Joan, I must do this," she said with all the determination she could muster.

Together the pulchritude pair moved on soft-soled shoes towards the Nurse's Station. Rebecca's attention was directed towards an older woman, slightly over weight, perhaps in her early or mid 60's. She was busy telling a group of five and six-year-olds a story using lots of hand and facial gestures in a very animated fashion.

Watching this process, the highly emotional Becky seemed immediately caught up in the story and found that she was laughing right along with the kids. She looked around and saw that all the children were wearing some type of a hat. Then Becky realized that children in here did not have a lock of hair at all on their head. She was so suddenly overcome with compassion she wanted to hug every child in the room and make it all better for them.

Instincts she had never felt before came over her with such intensity that even the storyteller felt Rebecca's compassion and distress as she finished her tale.

Rushing to the Rebecca's side Joan asked, "Are you alright? That was weird, whatever just happened, I mean. It was almost as if you were in a different world for a second."

"Those children. From where do they come? They all have cancer? How can someone so young and innocent be stricken with just a horrible thing?" Becky mumbled.

It seemed to Joan as if her patient was still in a semi-conscious state.

When, at the direction of the storyteller, the now happier band of tots slowly shuffled off to return to their beds, Joan and Rebecca were confronted by a new voice. "Joan. Would you like to introduce me to your new friend?"

"Aunt Jan! I'm sorry we interrupted your story to the children. This is Rebecca Stewart. She is going thru evaluation and I was giving her a tour, when Shelly said that you wanted to see me. I'm sorry we stopped you from reading." Joan explained to the head of the Cancer Clinic nursing staff.

"You did not interrupt my reading, Joan. In fact your timing was perfect," the august woman chuckled while looking deep into Becky's eyes.

"You felt the sorrow didn't you?" Nurse Wytte stated flatly. "You felt what they feel, and you wanted to help them, to nurture them, to aid them back to health, didn't you?"

Rebecca's attention now shifted to the kindly looking matron in front of her.

"But they are innocent, those kids... It's not right... They should not have to face this at such a tender age... They are so small... It just isn't fair!" She babbled at the Head Charge Nurse.

Ever perceptive, Jan Wytte held out her arms and Becky weakly collapsed into them. "Joan! A hand here, if you please?" The grey-haired caregiver spoke softly.

"Yes, Aunt Jan." Joan immediately obeyed.

Both professionals supported the emotional wreck and escorted her to the break area set aside for the staff. Placing Rebecca on the over-used couch, Aunt Jan quickly pulled a blanket up over the reclined frame and placed her hands on Becky's forehead. "Rest child... Get some sleep."

Unable to resist the gentle command, the over-extended woman did just that.

Jan sat on the edge of the couch and slowly rubbed Becky's shoulder as she succumbed to the draw of much needed rest. Joan tried defending her actions by saying. "Jan I have never seen anything like that before. I'm sorry. If I had suspected she would react so strongly, I wouldn't have brought her here."

"Hush, Joan. You have done nothing wrong. In fact, I believe you may have delivered us a precious gift."

Completely confused now, Nurse Banks stood there, trying and failing to piece together what had just happened. She, like Prue, had made the same mistake, she had allowed this woman to get under her skin in a very un-professional manner.

"Now just let her rest for a few minutes... I have something of some importance to you that I wish to discuss with you while she recovers her strength." The working Manager extended a hand for Joan to seat her self on a chair next to where she was sitting.

"As you know Sapphire is going to be retiring soon, and the administration will be looking for a new head coordinator."

Joan nodded her head at this not so new and definitely not secret revelation.

"I have been asked to recommend someone for the position." Jan continued.

"But I--" Joan attempted to say.

"Hush Child! Let me finish. I know that you have been studying at UBC for your doctorate and will likely be a Doctor some day... and someday I believe you will be a fine Scientist... However, having the burden of a job such as Sapphire's would be detrimental to your career goals."

"But Ja--"

"Quiet!" Jan said this time with more authority. "Although you have more experience and you have what it takes to do the job well, I cannot fully endorse you for the position... That is why I am recommending Prudence for the position... She is fully qualified to assume the role tomorrow and probably only requires a little tutoring in administration policies to be quite effective."

The wise old nurse paused to let this information settle in Joan's brain... "For you, this position would only be a temporary position and you could not be happy doing it for the long haul. Where, with Prue, the position will likely be fulfilling her life's dream. I do hope you understand my intentions fully?"

Joan, considering Aunt Jan's words, paused for a few seconds before responding. "I understand your reasoning, and yes, you are correct that Prue will make a very good department head, and yes..." she admitted with a hint of chuckle, "…you're correct. To me the position would only be a stepping stone, and could have very well have changed my plans." Feeling surer of her self now, Joan proudly stated, "And yes, I support your recommendation of Prue as Department Head and I will do everything to help her assume those duties when the time comes."

"Good girl. I knew you would understand. Now, come here and give this Auntie a hug." Jan comforted in gentle response.

A moment later the pair quietly left the room, pulling the door shut to allow Becky some more time to recover from the over stimulation of her caring centers. Joan returned to her duties and asked to be notified when Rebecca was feeling better.

Nurse Wytte checked on the sleeping woman after about 20 more minutes. She carefully wiped the angelic face and thought of how the sight of 'Her Children' as she called them, had such a huge effect on this woman. Jan was reminded of her own first experience with cancer victims some 30 years ago.

Sadly she recalled that in the sixties and seventies there had been very, so very few survivors and an awful lot of casualties... Thank the Lord above for all the progress we have made in research. Jan prayed while carefully mopping Rebecca's brow.

Becky's eyes fluttered open as she returned to consciousness. Her first attempt at speaking produced little more that a weak croak.

"Sssshhh, Child." Aunt Jan whispered softly on a soothing voice. "Just rest... You will feel better in a minute... Just relax. You are thirsty, yes?" she asked while comforting and gently rubbing Rebecca's forearm.

"Uh huh." A little-girl voice squeaked.

Unwilling to leave Rebecca's side for more than a moment she said, "Hold on." She stood and quickly walked to the door. Jan quietly issued an order to someone outside at the station and returned to her patient.

"That was quite the experience you had wasn't it? No! Don't try and answer right now... I've got someone to fetch you some ice chips and a bit of water. Is your throat pretty dry? Don't worry you are okay... It was probably just a little bit too much for you and your body couldn't process all the information and shut down until it could make sense of everything."

Shelly, interupted them,carrying a glass filled with ice chips and water, a cute curly straw sticking out the top of the lid, causing a giggle. Shelly held the plastic cup, while Aunt Jan helped Rebecca sit up so that she could comfortably drink the water without making a mess. Handing the cup to Becky she asked if everything was all right.

"Yes dear. Everything is just fine... Rebecca was just a little bit overwhelmed by all of this, but she's all right now." The comforting Nurse said, slowly massaging Becky's arms and shoulders.

As the recovering patient quickly resumed all her faculties, she began to inquire about the kids she saw. "The, kids... Those kids I saw… they all have had chemotherapy... They--"

"Yes dear. They have, and hopefully all of them will be better and will only remember this as a little problem that they had when they were very young. Children are very resilient creatures, and their powers of self-regeneration are amazing." Jan butted in, in order for Becky not to travel down the same path that got her lying in this room to begin with.

"I felt so weak, and powerless to help them, but at the same time I wanted to help them get rid of the pain and suffering." Becky Explained plaintively.

The experienced nurse just smiled and knew she was correct in her assumption about the new woman. She genuinely cares for all those around her, despite her own problems. "Come child. Let's get you cleaned up and looking presentable for that man of yours."

"Man of mine? What makes you think I have a man?"

"All women as young and pretty as you have a man, Rebecca," the wise woman answered vaguely. "Now, the little room you need is that way…"

After a quick trip to the washroom area to repair the damage done by the earlier excitement, Aunt Jan asked on her return, "Rebecca, would you like to take a look around the ward?"

Standing there before a mirror tacked to the wall for nurses to be sure of their appearance before returning to work, using the moment to straighten her clothes as well as consider how to answer Aunt Jan's question. "Yes. I think I would like that very much." Becky replied, not really sure why she wanted to, she just knew that she had to.

Nurse Wytte, with a light touch on the shoulder directed the visitor out of the break area and then showed her around the ward. She explained what the clinic and staff were trying to achieve here, and what each and every machine was for as they came across them. What really interested Rebecca were the children. The little waifs, most barely able to support their own weight on sticklike arms and legs still managed to be children despite the horrible disease. The majority were bed- ridden, but those that were not confined to bed were happily visiting and playing with many of the ones that were.

Rebecca looked into the eyes of each and every child that she saw that day. Even though many of the frailest children seemed to stare back with lifeless, dead eyes, she could faintly see a glimmer of hope in each and every one of them. "So close to death, yet so full of life. Oh God, please do not let them suffer so." Rebecca silently prayed at the end of the tour.

Wise in the ways of the ward's effect, Nurse Jan, sensing that Becky had just said that very same little prayer she so often said, firmly held the woman's hand and quietly said. "Amen."

Her senses overloaded, Becky suddenly began firing questions at the mature nurse when they finally paused in the excursion just out of earshot from the children.

"Who looks after these kids? Do they stay here all the time? How do these kids survive without parental support?"

"Slow down, Rebecca! I can only answer one question at a time."

The pair began their walk again. This time they were headed back into familiar territory. Nurse Wytte explained how a lot of the kids were brought here every morning by their parents for therapy. Others were brought to receive the constant care that was required while parents worked. She further explained that few of the patients stayed here, and those only on an emergency basis. There was a ward at Children's Hospital where they could receive the round the clock care that they required just to stay alive.

Jan also stated that the majority of the children that came here, IF their disease was diagnosed early enough, had a much better chance of beating the disease than what was previously thought just a few short years ago. When they arrived back at the nursing station, one place Rebecca was becoming all-too-familiar with, Joan came round to meet them.

"Everything all right now?" She asked, genuinely concerned for Rebecca's well being.

"Everything is just fine, Joan." Aunt Jan said as she patted Becky's hand.

Yes, Joan, thank you," Becky agreed. "May I come back, Aunt Jan?"

"Rebecca, you are welcome to come back any time to visit, and to talk with the children if you would like. They like to talk to new people and it brings them joy just to be around someone who is not filling their bodies full of poison, and is willing just to listen."

"I think I would like that very much. They seem so frail, and I wish I could do something to help them." Becky responded.

"Well there is something you can do to help." The nurse stated. "You can be a friend... A friend who will read them stories. A friend who will listen to them... A friend who will hold their hands when things look bad... Generally just be there when they need to be comforted and show them that every thing will be just fine... Do you think you can do that Becky?"

"I don't know. I think I would like to find out though." She timidly replied.

"Well you are welcome to stop by anytime to see us, and if you would like to read a story when you do, that would be fine as well." Nurse Jan said while giving Becky a comforting hug.

"Thank you... I think I would like that very much.''

The august nurse gave Becky a pat on the butt and sent her on her way. "Now go enjoy the rest of your day. The sun is shining and I am told it is also quite pleasant out as well."

As Becky and Joan watched Aunt Jan return to the children's ward, Rebecca could not help but feel admiration for Nurse Wytte. "She works in that ward every day. How does she do it...? It must tear her apart thinking about those helpless tots just laying there with that poison killing every living cell in their little bodies, and praying that a miracle comes along and saves them from all the pain and torture." Becky had no more than uttered the final words and was once again overcome with fatigue. Her mind, unable to process the flood of information, once more shut down her body.

"Damn!" Joan muttered.

Luckily they were standing next to the chairs adjacent to the station. Looking around for help, Joan spied Donna just coming back from her lunch break.

"Donna!" She shouted. "I need a hand."

Realizing that her friend had more on her plate than she could handle, Donna rushed to Joan's side.

"Let's get her into the day room and she can rest there for a bit... Damn! I knew this was too much for her... Why didn't I listen to my instincts?"

"Don't beat yourself up about it Joan… Jeesh! How were supposed to know... You process maybe… fifteen to twenty new patients a month... You do a good job... don't worry about it." The helping friend's words reassured her.

Very quickly, Rebecca was again lying on a couch with a blanket being drawn up around her to ward off any chills.

"Watch her for a second will you... I'm gonna go get a cart and check her vitals... This is twice this has happened this morning… I wanna make sure of something." Nurse Banks said, quickly hustling her tush out the door to fetch the needed cart.

Moments later, Joan returned with the cart and the girl was quickly hooked up to monitor. Blood pressure, Pulse, and O2 rate were taken. Joan efficiently clipped the thermometer to one of Rebecca's earlobes and the pair was soon staring at the display on the monitor.

"No wonder this woman keeps passing out look at that BP." Joan said. "105 over 42 is not good...What's her absorption rate?"

"Around ninety-six, ninety-seven," Donna reported quietly.

"Stay here! I'm going to get a gurney and some O2." The efficient nurse said calmly but forcefully, and then headed for the door.

Reaching under the counter of the nurse's desk she pushed the button that lets all personal know that assistance is required immediately. A little bell began a slow chime and all eyes look up from their duties to see what they can do to assist.

Pickles, the first to arrive on the scene, helped Joan, arguing with a gurney, the pair soon manoeuvred it through the doorway into the day room.

"How's she doing?" Joan asked.

"About the same... no change in BP or Pulse," Donna reported back.

"Temp?" Joan asked.


Doctor Geoff, rushing into the room, instantly evaluated the situation. He allowed Joan to retain control until he could be advised of the situation.

"Right! Now, let's get her on the stretcher, and into a better area to monitor her signs." The experienced nurse ordered.

All four bodies took a position on either side of Rebecca and on a signal from Joan simultaneously lifted the delicate burden and gently deposited her on the gurney and began moving. Donna, wheeling the monitor cart, followed closely behind the receding gurney into Day surgery where they could provide better treatment to the collapsed woman. While the small procession made the short journey down the far hall, Joan quickly filled Doctor Geoff in with all the pertinent data gathered so far.

Quickly divested of her clothing, Becky had a hospital gown efficiently draped around her. The room monitor was hooked up to her body and soon, vital signs were being monitored and charted on the room's computer.

Doctor Geoff ordered an ECG and the proper sensors were expertly attached to Rebecca's dormant body by the technician.

"Joan, get me Rebecca's chart... and Donna, get some O2 started."

"Right away Doctor," simultaneously sounded.

Each of the nurses' movements was practiced, and coolly professional.

"Have we a read?"

"System shows weak though normal sinus rhythm... Pulse is still weak but regular. Here is the ribbon from the read," Donna reported the results of the ECG, and then tore off the computer printout from the machine as is spits it out.

Examining the paper printout the troubled doctor took a small flashlight from his lab coat pocket and again checked Rebecca's pupils. Shaking his head he demanded, "I want blood toxicology… Stat!"

Pickles standing there at the doctor's disposal, reached for the phone. Dialled two digits and quickly repeated the doctor's order and the location, before hanging up the phone. "They're on their way, Doctor."

Returning with all the information she could find, Joan handed it to the doctor. Pickles informed her that the doctor ordered blood toxicology testing. She quickly picked up the phone dialled the cafeteria. Told them of her request. She then told the cafeteria staff member what the pair had ordered for coffee break over three hours ago. She told them to deliver the list of contents of the foods that the pair had consumed.

The entire team stood and stared at their patient unsure of why this woman was laying there in the state that she was in.

Dave entered the room with his portable blood sample kit. He swung the tray on the bed beside Rebecca and recognized the patient. He quickly gave Joan a look as if to say, 'No, not her.' but the professional in him took over and he began taking the samples with cool efficiency. Upon finishing he turned to go back to the lab for processing and the doctor spoke to him.

"Tell Serrata I want those results stat! No Bull Shit! I want them priority 1." the very serious doctor said to the duly impressed tech.

"Yes Sir! I'll start the process myself the second I return to the lab." Dave collected his goods and vanished out the door.

Doctor Geoff again scoured the list of meds that Rebecca had reported taking that day and tried to think of all the possible side effects and combinations. An idea formed in his head, but he needed technical data to back it up. "Bill." He announced. "You are a pretty fast runner, are you not?" The doctor knew that Pickles was indeed a fast runner. In previous years when the pair had entered "THE RUN FOR THE CURE."(Obvious plug intended.) Pickles was the only other entry from their little group who had been able to match the doctor stride for stride.

Pickles just chuckled a bit and then answered, "I do all right."

"Good, because I want you to run upstairs to my office. On the bookshelf you will see two rather large burgundy coloured books concerning the latent side effects of prescription drugs. As fast as you can bring them back down to me here."

The words had no sooner left the doctor's mouth and the mid-twenties man was sprinting out the door and down the hall towards the stairs up to the third floor.

Geoff put the chart down on the counter and pulling down the blanket covering the lower portion of Rebecca's body, began examining the edema around ankles and calves quite closely.

"Joan, when you and Miss Stewart were in the cafeteria, did you notice if Rebecca had put salt on any of the food she consumed?"

"No. I know for a fact that she didn't... Because I offered her some and she said that she couldn't because of her meds. She said she was on a sodium restricted diet." Joan answered the doctor's question.

As Doctor Geoff was again examining the vitals being carefully monitored by the machine, the phone in the room chirped. Joan retrieved it and announced, "It's the cafeteria and the results are ready if someone wants to send some one over to pick them up."

Joan was surprised at Geoff's reaction to the news. She had never seen The Doctor lose his temper or raise his voice in anger in the almost three years that she had been training there.

"You tell Belinda to get off her fat arse and get that info to me stat, or I will personally give her fat arse a liposuction with the end of my shoe!"

Joan told the other end of the line that the doctor had ordered the information to be delivered to surgery number three, stat! She then hung up the phone.

Geoff continued to look at the vital signs and told Donna to keep her eyes on the oxygen absorption rate. If it fell to 96 and stayed, to immediately let him know.

Pickles came thru the doors with the books in hand and with little effort hefted them up on to the counter. Slightly winded, he informed the doctor of his return. "Here you go, Doc."

"Thanks, Pic."

Tearing strips of paper in long pieces from a note pad he always carried, he began giving Joan and Pickles instructions. "What I want you to do is... Look at the list of meds that I have listed alphabetically... I then want you to look up the drug name for each and every one and when you do, write the name on a piece of paper." He held up the dozen or so long scraps of paper he had just torn up. "And place them in the book... Don't forget common names and also the pharmacy names as well... If you have a question ask... Okay? Good. Time is of the essence here... Pickles… you start at 'A' and Joan you start at 'Z' and work backwards."

"Right." the pair chanted and set about quickly performing their appointed task.

Doctor Geoff returned to his patient, looked at the monitor and felt his patient for signs of reduced circulation or blood pooling. "Come on Becky... What did you have today that is causing this?" He quietly said to himself, without realizing the nurse Donna was barely within hearing.

There was a knock on the surgery room door and without looking up from his patient, Geoff shouted, "Enter!"

An obese woman entered the room with a large pile of photocopied sheets and some hand-written ones as well.

Geoff looked up to see who was disturbing them and was pleased to see the six foot woman all attired in white, standing there, perspiration dripping from her brow.

"Thank you Belinda. You may have played a major part in saving this woman's life." If anything the doctor was kind and rewarded good and efficient effort.

Pleased with the compliment, the giant thanked the doctor and quickly returned to her kitchen to prepare for the next rush of patrons.

Looking over the list of foodstuffs, Geoff's eyes lit up when he saw the ingredients of today's fruit punch. "Joan! Did Rebecca have any fruit punch when you went for coffee this morning?"

"Yes, she had a twelve ounce glass, the same as me... I feel alright?" She stated.

Geoff just chuckled for a second and then said "Yes, but you are not taking anti-rejection drugs, specifically Tacrolimus... Joan, look up Tacrolimus and tell me the side effects of the drug, please... Pickles concentrate your search on diuretics only."

Turning to Donna. "How's that O2 rate?"

He stuck the earpieces of his haemostats into their respective places and listened to Rebecca's breathing.

Joan began reciting the side effects of Tacrolimus for all to hear.

"Yes, yes. Go on!" The impatient doctor said, "The stuff is deadly… if you don't need it, don't use it…unfortunately our precious Miss Becky must take it twice a day to survive. It seems to me there was some warning about different fruits or something… something about chemical combinations." He stated as he walked over to where the nurse was standing.

"Yes, here it is... foods to entirely avoid. It says Grapefruit juice and grapefruits to avoid completely. Interaction may cause adverse reactions…dizziness, light-headedness, extreme fatigue and in sufficient doses, unconsciousness, paralysis, and death," she quoted.

"Now, would anyone care to guess what the base for the fruit punch was today?"

Before the words had finished leaving his mouth all three of his colleagues had said aloud, "Grapefruit juice."

"Precisely... Joan, prepare a standard glucose and saline drip and run it fairly quickly. Now what does it suggest to counteract the effects?"

Joan showed the doctor the chemical name in the bible and Geoff casually looked at it and jotted down the information. "Once the G and S has been started for a few minutes, slowly very slowly, add fifteen ccs of..." Handing Joan the hastily scribbled note.

"Right away, Doctor." Joan picked up the phone and paged Jan to come to surgery three stat. Although Joan was a coordinator and a fully qualified dispenser, hospital procedures required two people present when the drug cabinet was opened.

"Pickles, how we coming with your list?"

"I think I figured out where you are going with this, Doc. The aldactone and the spirolactone all have pretty well the same side effects, to the same degree, in that the both produce decreased blood pressure, dizziness, and in some cases fatigue."

"Thank you, Bill. Well stated," the doctor praised.

Jan came rushing into the room and immediately knew what was required of her. She signed the log and Joan quickly opened the locker and set up the drip.

Auntie Jan comforted the unconscious form. "Oh dear! Oh, you poor girl. You have been thru so much today."

Joan efficiently found a vein and began running in the solution quite fast.

"Joan, do know when she had her last dose of Morphine?" Doctor Geoff asked.

"She has not had any since she arrived here, that I am aware of." Joan replied. She looked over at Jan to confirm the same thing with her and Jan stated.

"None, to my knowledge.''

"Good, when she comes around and complains about pain, ask her what her normal dosage is, and give her a dose. But, make doubly sure she is completely stable before administering anything at all!"

"Of course doctor," Joan agreed sharply.

The surgery door burst open and Dr. Serrata entered the room with the results from her screening in hand. Shoving them in the general direction of Geoff, she announced." So, is our little sissy, MISS Dress-up, going to survive? Let me guess, she broke a nail."

Once again the staff was treated to Doctor Geoff's loss of cool.

"Doctor! May… I… See… You… For… A… Moment… Over… Here, if you… PLEASE!" The man nearly tore her arm from her shoulder making certain she moved to where he indicated.

"Look, Carol I don't know what the hell your problem is with this woman, but you had better get over it! NOW! And I do mean, right NOW! Rebecca Stewart is a patient in this facility… You swore an oath to provide the best possible care for ALL our patients... Your attitude, and lack of tact, is seriously jeopardizing your relationship with this facility... Are you beginning to understand what I am saying? Good! Because I do not wish to repeat myself... Now, I know how understaffed your department is, and I would not like to see them further stressed by your absence, and perhaps it would be a wise decision on your part, to return there as soon as possible."

Without saying a word the Scientist turned and started towards the door trying to avoid the looks that the debacle had garnered from the other Residents in the room, knowing it would have been impossible to NOT hear the dressing down that she had just received.

After more than an hour of uninterrupted rest, Rebecca finally moaned, which brought great delight to all the occupants of the room.

"It's alive." Pickles said, doing the best Peter Lorrie imitation he could.

This brought a small chuckle from all the people in the room and finally broke the tremendous tension, which had been building for the hour. There was still one person left who was not quite ready for chuckling yet. She moaned softly, "Bad, Pickles, very bad."


"BP is up to 120 over 50. O2 is steady at 98%. Temperature is still slightly elevated." Donna happily reported.

"Good!" Geoff remarked, not even trying to cover his gleeful tone, "She is not to move from this location until ALL, and I do mean all vital signs are within normal parameters." Smiling, he greeted Becky back into the world. "Welcome back, Kiddo. Did you have a good sleep?"

"Wha' happen'...?" she croaked.

"Shhh... Don't try to talk... Here, suck on this ice cube for a bit." Jan demanded of the now conscious Becky.

"Nurse Wytte... No! Not again... What is going on?" The extremely confused patient asked.

Doctor Geoff now began to inform her of the events of the last hour or so.

"Rebecca, are you aware of the side-effects of your meds? In particular, the drug Tacrolimus? And what foods you are to avoid?"

"Yes. I am to avoid chewing gum, taking antacid tablets, aspirin, and under no circumstances consume grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice... Why?"

'Were you aware what was in the fruit juice you drank at coffee this morning?'' Geoff asked.

"Yes. I believe the sign said that it was a citrus-based blend of oranges, lemons, pineapple and mango... At least that's what I think it said?" Becky stated.

Geoff looked over at Joan who also had the same look on her face and he simply said to her. "Go. Check it out."

In a flash Joan had left the room on the way to the cafeteria to confirm the information.

"Becky. It seems that somehow you consumed almost 12ounces of grapefruit juice this morning."

"Oh my, God!" She exclaimed. "But, I'm not supposed to touch grapefruit... I was told that it would cause a very bad reaction to the Tacrolimus if I mix them."

"Well, very lucky for you, Joan and Donna here noticed something was not quite right, and got the ball rolling just in time to avoid a major catastrophe…"

Ever observant, Jan noticed that Rebecca was moving about on the gurney as if trying to find a comfortable position and failing. "How is your pain?" she asked.


"Your pains… on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the greatest you've ever felt, how is your pain level?"

"Around seven or so, I'd guess... What time is it? I haven't had anything since six this morning."

Geoff looked into her eyes, and after looking at the monitor still attached to her, said. "When Joan gets back, she'll give you something for pain... In the mean time let's get this oxygen mask back on you, and let you lay back and rest for a bit."

Pickles said. "It's good to see you back, Becky." Turning to the Doctor in charge he continued." Guess I'd better be getting back to work, if it's okay with you, Doc? Scotty's going be freaking' looking all over for me."

"Yes. You'd better get back. You wouldn't want that 'porridge basher' upset at you anymore than you probably have to. Thank you for your help, Bill. You were a definite asset. I will definite paint you in a good light in the incident report I will be filing."

"I appreciate it Doc. But, it's not necessary. I'm just glad I was available to help out when I was needed."

"In that case, get out of here, before that 'Five Iron Frankenstein' flips out all over me for ruining the work ethic he has tried so hard to instill in you."

The pair laughed at the slight joke and Pickles was out the door and gone with a "See you later Ladies," flipped casually over his shoulder. Pickles never forgot "the ladies."

Joan returned and took the doctor over to one side of the room for a private whisper. After a few moments the conversation seemed to be at end.

"Right. I will see that is gets into the incident report. Also I want your report and yours too, Donna, on my desk before end of business today."

Both women shook their heads, knowing that they have not seen the last of this little episode, not yet anyway.

"Well Rebecca, though I've enjoyed your monopolizing my time once again, Dear Girl, I really must get back to work now... As much as I would like to, I can't hang around here all day holding hands..." The smooth doctor said with a little smirk, then glanced at the others. "Don't forget, Ladies ... reports… my desk before you leave…" and then he was gone.

Joan and Jan had returned from the drug cabinet with 25cc of clinical morphine and slowly added the powerful narcotic to Rebecca's IV unit. Within seconds, the patient, released from the grip of intense pain, was feeling a little more relaxed and at ease.

"Thank you," she said.

"You just lay back and relax for a little bit longer... you aren't going anywhere just yet... and besides I have your clothes hidden away," Joan joked.

Instantly Rebecca realized she was wearing nothing but the hospitals definition of proper patient attire and unconsciously pulled the sheets a little higher up around her trim body.

This action only made the other three women laugh.

Rebecca reclined back onto the portable bed, knowing she wasn't going anywhere until these three said so.






© 2003 by Rebecca Anne Stewart. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, and compilation design) may be printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of StorySite and the copyright holder.