Hannah Alexander
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Necessary Measures Excerpt pg 1



 Throat’s on fire.” The patient held his left hand to his neck, his unshaven face contorting as Lauren McCaffrey angled him onto the exam bed.

Lauren’s eyes smarted from the aroma that permeated the air around him. “Mr. Proctor, I’m going to set you up with something to help you breathe, but I need to check your oxygen saturation level.”

“Just hurry!”

Lauren did so gladly. This was ridiculous. A nurse worked with bad smells all the time. This man, however, didn’t just smell dirty or sick. There was another odor she couldn’t define and didn’t have the time to analyze. She raised the head of the bed so he could lean back and still be seated upright, then she laid a hand on his shoulder to help ease him back.

She reached for the package of plastic tubing and ripped it open. “Did you say this is a flare-up of your asthma, Mr. Proctor?”

Gil Proctor nodded. Sweat lay thick across his forehead, and tears dripped down his face from obviously irritated eyes. He didn’t behave like an asthmatic. Someone who was experiencing an asthma attack sat up straight and still to concentrate on getting the highest airflow they could manage.

She attached the probe to his finger to check his oxygen.

“What’re you doing that for?” he demanded. His voice grated, probably from some kind of physical irritation.

Lauren explained what she was doing while she connected him to the automatic blood pressure cuff, all the while trying not to gag. She chided herself for her squeamishness. This guy was in trouble. She needed to forget about her own dropping oxygen level and be as compassionate as possible—he needed help.

“Where’s the doctor?” he snapped. “I want a doctor. My lungs—”

“Dr. Sheldon will be here in a moment, Mr. Proctor. This oxygen should help a lot, and our respiratory therapist is on her way to give you a breathing treatment.” She adjusted the tubing, careful to avoid dislodging it when he coughed again. “Don’t worry,” she soothed. “We’re going to help you. Just try to breathe through your nose, and relax if you can. Do you want me to call your wife from the waiting—”

“Ain’t my wife!”

“Your friend, then.”

“Yeah, get her back here. Tell her to get me a drink.”

“I’ll bring you some water as soon as the doctor has checked you.”

He grunted and tugged at the tubing.

She stepped to the entryway and peered out to find Grant and Gina talking with the secretary at the central workstation. She waved at them and caught their attention, then gestured for them to come. They nodded. Gina carried a nebulizer unit.

From the time Grant Sheldon had come to work here in May, he seemed to move with an aura of calm. His presence soothed overstressed staff and patients alike. As he stepped into the exam room, a barely discernible frown around his eyes revealed that he noticed the smell.

On the other hand, Gina Drake’s pretty, copper-colored eyes widened, and she looked hard at Lauren. Lauren gave her friend a short nod of acknowledgment, then turned to give Grant the chart.

He studied the information for a moment, then introduced himself to the patient. “I understand you’re having trouble with your asthma today?” He looked again at the chart, eyes narrowed, as if seeking something that wasn’t there.

Gil nodded and coughed again.

Grant looked at the blood pressure reading on the monitor, then looked at Lauren. He’d picked up on the readings right away. “When did your breathing start getting bad?”

The patient frowned. “I don’t know. Couple hours ago.”

“Have you ever been admitted to a hospital for your asthma, or have you ever been placed on a ventilator to help you breathe?”

Gil gave an irritated shake of his head.


Necessary Measures Excerpt pg 1