Friday, March 01, 2019

Just a Regular Day of Nursing...On A Day Off

Kristi on her birthday breakfast, after finishing another night shift of nursing.

My sister is a nurse. She's pretty damn amazing, and cares for people as part of and outside of her job.

One summer day she was biking back to her apartment from our place. Near her building is a bus stop where bus drivers often park their buses and take a break at the convenience store on the corner.

While a bus was sitting there and the bus driver was inside, Kristi noticed a woman sitting on the corner, her legs splayed into the street. She seemed kind of disoriented and was swaying back and forth. Kristi was concerned she was going to fall forward into the street.

Kristi could have just crossed the street on the opposite side and pedaled on her way. Being a nurse, she stopped.

She spoke with this woman for a bit. The woman was slurring her words, unsure of where she was, wasn't even sure of her name. As they spoke, Kristi noticed that she had a medical tag around her neck and she looked at it. The woman had diabetes, and Kristi immediately associated the woman's odd behavior with low blood sugar.

By this time, the bus driver had come out of the store and was going to start his route again; Kristi asked him to call an ambulance. He went back into the convenience store and guess who he called? His manager. Yep, because a metro transit manager can definitely help someone in a medical emergency! The driver came out and talked with Kristi, told her that this woman rides their bus all the time, they often see her, but they've never seen her like this.

Finally an ambulance arrived, and they began to care for this woman. Kristi stuck around to make sure she'd be all right, and the EMTs told her that the woman's blood sugar was 11. I wasn't sure what that meant, but Kristi said that's near comatose; she shouldn't have been conscious. (Normal blood sugar is between 70-130 when fasting, higher after meals.)

They loaded the woman up in the ambulance and drove off, sirens blaring, to get her the medical attention she needed. Kristi biked the rest of the way home and chalked it up to another day.

Later, when Kristi related this story to me, I was amazed. "Do you realize that you probably saved that woman's life?" I said.

"No, not really," Kristi demurred. "Someone would have stopped."

"No, I don't think so. I think people would assume she was an alcoholic, drunk in the middle of the day. No one would have called an ambulance. Even when you asked someone to call an ambulance, they didn't do it right away. If they did anything they'd probably call the cops to get her out of the street."

After a while, Kristi finally agreed that yes, perhaps, she had saved that woman's life. But, she said, "That's my job."

This story has stuck with me even though it happened last summer, or possibly even the summer before. It's because people like Kristi are in the world, people with goodness in their hearts and a willingness to step into uncertain situations, that I have hope for a better tomorrow for all of us.

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