Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOT (08/10/17)
- TITLE: Shower of Grace
By Amy Gaudette
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I glower at the thermometer. Not smart. I need to lead this crew, and I can't spend any time bemoaning the fact that it's already 100 degrees. I grab a warm bottle of water. Stay hydrated. Pray. Keep a positive attitude.
I hear the doors open into the waiting room. I freeze. “Nurse Kim.” My voice emphatic but controlled. “Turn and immediately walk into the supply room and suit up.”
I see confliction in her face. Resistance solidifies her stance as her shoulders square and her chin lifts. “We cannot take the suits. They increase our temperature at least five degrees. And we're only dealing with heat-related stress and illness.” Her voice weakens. “Please. Let us wear level 2 garb. There has been nothing more contagious than a cold. Some of us aren't sure we can take the heat anymore.”
My own resolve weakens. Kim is not only my number one nurse, she is one of my best friends.
I hesitate another minute. “Kim. If only one case of a level 3 or 4 walks in, I could be responsible for an outbreak among my nurses I will have to live with for the rest of my life. We will shorten shifts if we have to.”
I turn quickly away, not wanting my face to betray how shaken I am. Is mutiny mulling among the staff?
I take a quick look at the mercury again. 105 and no end in sight.
Beads of sweat give way to rivulets. My eyes burn behind the mask and eye goggles. Precautions necessary due to the high volume of infectious diseases just over the border in Sierre Leone. Here in Guinea, we have been somewhat protected. But the relentless heat wave takes its toll ruthlessly. Even I begin to falter. Unsure of my thoughts as I treat a patient, I scare myself.
Yelling catches my attention as a young and very pregnant woman is carried into the clinic. I see Kim's eyes pleading with me. I do not give in. I cannot. Kim is pale and I order her to take a break. She refuses.
We treat the expectant mother with an I.V., and take her bloodwork. All protocol, though it seems as though she is another heat victim. Her unborn child may be a victim as well. I've only to turn around to see the mother-to-be is vomiting violently. Her head rolls back and her eyes begin to ooze blood. No. This cannot be.
We know what to do. That room is immediately isolated from the rest of the clinic with the patient inside. I send Kim to wash and sanitize herself, as discharge covers her gloved hands and feet. Fear is now the enemy. It climbs inside as the heat reeks havoc on the outside. Ebola?
When evening falls, I escape, retreating to a large boulder jutting out from the forest. A spectacular view of God's handiwork greets me, yet I struggle to find any real peace. I hear Kim approach and motion for her to join me. A companionable silence settles into the quiet.
“For what?” I am curious.
“For saving my life today.” Kim's shaking voice penetrates the night and my heart. “If I hadn't been suited up-”
I interrupt. “Don't even go there. The Lord is watching over us. I believe that with all my heart.” I reach out. We embrace.
“Grace rained on us today, didn't it?”
“Yes, it did . . . and something else is raining on us now.” I start to laugh. Oh, it feels so good to laugh. We lift our faces to the moist coolness, drinking in the changing air. I breathe deeply. I don't know which feels better – the refreshing air or refreshing grace. Both. I am thankful.
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