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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina Touched

The RRR returns to work tonight at the hospital for the first time since his trip to the desert. The tragedy in New Orleans happened while we were on our journey and cut off from communication. It has had an unreal feel to it as though it happened on another planet. But then everything has felt unreal. As though the time in the wilderness was crystal and the world here is fuzzy and out of focus. I felt no connection with victims.

I had just arrived at work when an emergency call came over the radio, "Code Green!" and the hospital unit name. "Code Green" is hospital talk for Psychiatric Emergency. It means someone is out of control and help is needed. My friend James from the previous shift and I rushed up to the floor. In the bed was an emaciated African-American gentleman. The nurse addressed him by my name. There is power in naming and we shared that power. He was a refugee from New Orleans. He had been highly agitated and needed a shot of tranquilizer and had threatened to tear out the I.V. if she injected it.

I introduced myself as also being Mr. ******. He sat with his hands folded in front of him. I took them in mine and held them and told him the medication is safe and would help him. I told him that I have given it dozens of times without ill effect. I told him I would take it willingly myself should it be necessary. As I talked the other nurse injected it into his I.V. line, then turned up the speed on the pump to get it into his system. The communication flowed through our hands as the medicine was flowing into him. Suddenly this man and I, brothers of name were in the crystal focus and the surrounding security guards and others who had answered the call retreated into the unreality of the current world.

When I knew the medication was in, I wondered when it would be safe to let go of his hands. The nurse said to him, "You should be all right now, you can lay down." With great personal dignity he stated in a lovely liquid southern black accent, "I prefer to sit up, thank you". I knew he was safe and let go. Katrina had touched him and he had touched me. I came back to my own floor amazed.


Blogger Mid-kid said...

It's amazing how catastrophic events influence our lives even if we don't live exceptionally close to the problem. As you know I am in the state that is taking the most evacuees. We have a quarter million of them right now. They are opening up school buildings that closed last year just a couple miles from where we live to house some of them. My boss-lady has already given money clothes etc and I sent some canned goods with her. It is kind of cool to be able to personally help out people. Normally it seems so far from home but now it feels like everyone's in this together.

7:40 AM  

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