Call Me Sergeant, Who?
“Sergeant!” The nurse spoke excitedly.
“Oh, Dr. Roberts. I saw the sergeant’s eyes blink. They didn’t open, but I saw eye movement under the lid.”
Doctor Roberts spoke softly, “Check the time right now. Come back in 60 minutes and check his vitals then. He’s probably getting close.”
Claire checked her watch. 1345 hrs. She wrote Next Visit - 1445 on his chart. Instinctively she glanced at Page Two. Two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, Silver Star, U/C Medal of Honor. She thought about the letters U/C. It wasn’t a big thing, but it was strange she had never seen those letters written in this way. She continued her rounds. She looked at the transom over the exit door at the end of the hall. 32B was flashing. A slow steady flash. She checked her floor chart. It was Corporal Peters. She decided to go now rather than wait to take it in rotation.
With forty beds on the floor, it was hard to keep everything straight. Entering the room, she remembered Corporal Peters. Female soldier, blonde hair, blue eyes, shot three times in the left leg which was amputated at the knee. There was a MWC next to the bed but I’m guessing, she wasn’t using it yet. MWC stood for Mini Wheel Chair. It was a get around chair; stripped down for speed and maneuverability. She had a great personality and a good sense of humor. She was a Far Side® fan. “What’s going on Corporal?”
“My water jug is empty.”
“Do you want it straight or with a little something in it to jazz it up?” Claire smiled at her patient.
“I’d like it with ice please.”, Corporal Peters replied. “I know you told me before, but I forgot. What is your name please?”
“I go by Nurse Claire. Or just Claire. Whichever you prefer.”
“Just Claire. That would be JC, correct?” she said with a beaming smile.
“For you?”, Claire started, “JC will work. But you have to remember other people on the floor might be looking for a religious figure with a name like that! How is your mobility class going?”
“I’m waiting for my gloves to be delivered. They are supposed to be fingerless and leather. I’m getting three pairs. The palms have cushioning on the inside and a rubber coating on the palms on the outside. I had a test pair I was using last week. Do you know the status of the soldier over by the I.C.U.?”
Claire smiled at her. That was a question most of the women on the floor asked her. “His vitals are good, heart rate is strong, his breathing is at a steady tempo. He’ll be coming around in another couple of days I suspect. Should I tell him you were asking about him, when he wakes up?”
The corporal shook her head rapidly “No!”
Claire smiled at her, and said, “You know, he has the interest of every women on the floor. You might want to get to the head of the line.”
Corporal Peters’ smile vanished. Her face got serious as she said, “That soldier saved my life and the life of sixty other soldiers. I just wanted to tell him Thank You!!”
“Sixty? Are you sure?”
At 1445, Claire went to the sergeant’s room to check his vitals as she was told to do by Dr. Roberts. It was when she was looking at Page Three of his chart she noticed something off. There was no name on Page Three. She flipped back to Page Two and noticed no name on Page Two either. She looked at Page One. She knew she was not going to find any name there, but just to check. Nope. In the space next to the name was a bar code. She never noticed it before. She thought back to Corporal Peters. She could not remember a name on her chart or not. It was almost 1500 hours and her shift would be over soon. She went by 32B and looked in on the Corporal. She resisted the urge to look at her chart. What was the point? She already knew her name.
The next two weeks went by quickly. Corporal Peters gave Claire a copy of the article from “The Stars and Stripes” newspaper with the discussion of the attack she was a part of. There was no change in the sergeant’s status. He was a topic of discussion in every staff meeting at shift change but his status was always the same; blood pressure, heart rate, breathing; everything was normal She checked in on him during each shift. While no one had mentioned it, she noticed something looked off. One afternoon as Dr. Roberts was walking by, she asked to speak with him confidentially. He told her to meet him in his office at 15-00 hrs. Nurse Claire was there at 1500 hrs sharp. “Doctor,” she started, “ the sergeant at the end of the hall near the I.C.U., the color of his skin and the color of his face is off. It doesn’t look normal to me.”
“Have you had dermatology training, Nurse?”
“I feel silly coming to you with this, but I just think something is off with my patient. I’ve been waiting at each shift change for someone to mention it, but no one has. With your permission, I’d like to get a blood work-up done as soon as possible.”
The blood work-up on the sergeant, turned up his hematology numbers were off the chart. He was taken in for an operation and the team found he had a piece of shrapnel blocking his blood flow. It was preventing him from waking up from the coma he was in.
Claire came back to work after two weeks of leave. Corporal Peters had been released to a halfway house. The sergeant came out of his coma and Claire found out he was raising a fuss about his notification he was going to attend a ceremony at the White House. Apparently the U/C next to Medal of Honor on Page Two stood for Under Consideration. He didn’t think he deserved the medal. That’s when Corporal Peters visited him. With tears in her eyes, she said Thank you! Colonel Jamieson and his wife were right after the Corporal. Mrs. Jamieson told the sergeant, with tears streaming down her face, “Thank you!” For saving my husband. After seeing forty of the sixty soldiers he saved in battle, he finally relented.
The Corporal, the Colonel’s wife and the President of the United States were all there atr the White House to place the Medal of Honor around the sergeant’s neck. Deserve it? Yeah I guess so!