The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild

Published 9:36 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

First Aid 101

By Gaye Hoots

When we were growing up, we rarely saw a doctor. The most serious injury I remember before I was age 6 was the multiple stings I got when bees were entangled in my long hair. The resulting swelling almost closed my eyes. Three weeks went by before it subsided completely. Luckily my throat did not swell shut as had happened to me as an adult from a single bee sting, requiring a trip to the emergency room.

I injured my leg when I stepped on a rotten board in the barn loft. There was no penetrating wound, but much of the skin was scraped off. My grandfather cleaned it and left it to heal. I also sustained a burn when I pulled a bowl of scalding hot Jello off a shelf and onto my head. My grandfather drove me to see someone who quoted scripture to help stop the pain. Either this worked, or I was simply dyed red from the Jello, instead of being badly burned.

When I was 6 we moved to the Marchmont. The grounds there had been neglected and were overgrown. Shortly after moving there, I jumped off a four-foot bank, and my bare foot landed on a broken Coke bottle. The neck was stuck in the ground, and the jagged edges cut a gash in my foot. We were unable to stop the bleeding. Mother went up to the dairy barn to seek help. A painter was there. He offered to help by holding my foot and quoting scripture. By the time he finished, the bleeding had subsided. When my dad got home, he looked at my foot and decided the scar would be one people would not see, so stitches were not needed. It was a few weeks before I could walk on my foot.

One morning I awoke with a slight headache and a large knot on my head.

“You are not going to believe this, but I have a knot on my head,” I told my parents.

“We believe you. You fell out of bed, and we couldn’t wake you up, so we put you back in bed to sleep.” No concern that it might have been a concussion.

My brother Phil also got a taste of this. When he was about a year old, he swallowed my shooter marble. Dad saw this and grabbed him by the ankles, held him upside down and slapped him on the back. It worked, and I got my marble back. Another time Mother was on the porch washing clothes. Phil was in his playpen with a glass bottle. He threw the bottle out onto the slate porch, breaking it. Mother didn’t hear this because the washing machine was loud. When she looked at him, he was choking and bleeding from his mouth. Her cries brought Mr. O’Mara who did the milking. He held Phil upside down and ran his finger into Phil’s throat, removing a triangular piece of the glass bottle.

Mother and Mr. O’Mara went to find Dad and explained what had happened. Phil had stopped crying by then. Dad offered him a sip of Coke, and he swallowed it. Dad then offered a cracker with peanut butter. Phil was able to swallow without difficulty so Dad decided no further treatment was needed. Phil experienced no problems after this, so Dad was correct in his diagnosis. We survived and were none the worse for it.

The one immediate decision to go to a doctor was made when Phil broke his leg. He and Faye had climbed the hay elevator to the hay loft. Faye jumped off, but the elevator was turned on, throwing Phil onto the floor of the loft. He was in a cast for most of the summer.

Dad used the same techniques on the farm animals. His success rate was probably as good as most vets and doctors. Dad gave me the runt pigs to bottle feed. All of them survived and became pets. Feeding the babies may have contributed to my decision to pursue a career in nursing.

Were it not for the Child

By Mike Gowen

Were it not for the child,

Life would be better I think

No teachers, doctors, dentists,

Or visits to the shrink.

Were it not for the child

I could have it all

No nagging, crying, or begging,

To play a game or toss a ball.

Were it not for the child,

I would have plenty of time

For wining, dining & dancing

While I’m still in my prime.

Were it not for the child

The house would stay clean

No clothes, candy wrappers, or food,

Hidden in places unseen.

Were it not for the child,

Sounds too good to be true

No wounds to mend, no fights to end,

Yelling till my face turns blue.

Were it not for the child,

There would be little reason

For Santa, the Tooth Fairy & Easter Bunny,

Passing each holiday season.

Were it not for the child,

My heart would never know

The peace, fulfillment & joy,

A child’s love can bestow.

Were it not for the child,

I would feel so alone

No laughing, playing, singing,

Or racing to answer the phone.

Were it not for the child,

My body would never feel

A child’s touch, hug or kiss,

That the darkest day can heal.

Were it not for the child,

Not something to consider mild

Realizing life is but nothing,

Were it not for the child.

A Hot Summer in 1924

From the diary of a Davie girl born in 1912

By Marie Benge Craig

Now that I’m 12, I’ve decided I should read our weekly newspaper every Thursday when it comes in the mail. Last week, I read our Mocksville Enterprise dated July 7, 1924. I started reading it in the kitchen where my mother was ironing with her old flat iron. She has to keep the cook stove hot to heat the iron. I tried lifting that iron once, and it was awful heavy. It was so hot in the kitchen that I finally had to go out on the front porch to read. It wasn’t much cooler out there, but a light breeze helped me be more comfortable. I felt sorry for my mom working so hard in the hot kitchen.

I guess that was on my mind, because one of the first ads I saw in the newspaper last week had a drawing of a woman ironing with an electric iron, and she was standing in front of an electric fan. The ad said, “Lighten your laundry work. The combination of an Electric Fan and an Electric Iron takes away from Summer Ironing much of the heat which has always made Ironing such a dreaded task. Irons $5 and $6. Fans $10 to $35.” In bold letters at the bottom of the ad was “C.C. Sanford Sons. Co.”

When my dad came home from work that afternoon, I showed him the advertisement and asked him, “If I put in my part of the money, could we go buy an iron and maybe even a fan for my mother so that she wouldn’t be so hot?” He thanked me for thinking of her and of being willing to share my allowance, and that he would think about it.

The next morning, he got up and went to work before I woke up, so I didn’t have a chance to remind him of this. After I helped my mother and had some breakfast, I told her that I wanted to walk downtown for a little while. She told me to be careful and not talk to strangers and to hurry back.

I went to C.C. Sanford Sons Co. They have such a huge store and sell just everything. They even sell Ford cars now. I finally found the section of the store that sells irons.  There were several different brands. Westinghouse Automatic Iron was $7.75, Sunbeam was $7.50 and Simplex was $4.50. I picked one of them up and was amazed at how much lighter it was than mom’s flat iron. The salesman asked me if we had a place to plug it in. I hadn’t even thought about that. We had some electric wires run to our house, and they installed overhead lights and a few outlets. Maybe one of those would work, but then where would we plug in the fan, if we decided to buy one? Instead of just buying her a Simplex iron with the $5 I had in my pocket, I decided I better wait.

I went home, trying to figure out what to do. When my dad came in late that afternoon, I saw that he was carrying a box. Sure enough, he’d gone to the store also, and he had bought her an electric iron. He thanked me for giving him the idea. He told me that since it wasn’t so heavy, that I could help her iron sometimes. Now, I’m not so sure getting an electric iron was a good idea, but I guess I’ll get used to it.

Heart of Steel

By Stephanie Dean

The operating room supervisor stuck her head inside OR #16 to let Steele know there was an emergency phone call waiting for her at the front desk.

“For me?” Steele asked in a surprised tone. The surgical team was right in the middle of an open abdominal procedure, and she was being called to the telephone. Steele’s anxiety level was always elevated due to the nature of her work. Having her supervisor come to her room because of a possible crisis caused a quick rise to near panic level.

The surgeons were starting to count sponges and close the wound.

“Got everything you need? I’m gonna slip out for a minute. There’s a phone call for me.” Steele whispered to her scrub nurse Brenda. “I’ll be back in a few.”

Steele walked briskly to the scheduling office. “What line do I pick up?” she asked the front desk clerk.

“Line 4 is on hold for you Steele. He’s been holding for a few minutes.”

The call at work was a first. Nurses didn’t work in the operating room and take personal phone calls. Steele was surprised her supervisor had not taken a message.

Tentatively picking up the receiver, she said, “This is Steele, how may I help you?”

“Hey Steele, it’s Jeff. Sorry to bother you at work, but we’ve got a problem over here. Jennifer never came home last night, and mom and I have been out searching for her all morning. There’s no sign of her anywhere. It’s like she disappeared.”

Jeff was Steele’s boyfriend, and he was often overprotective of her. Because he tended to worry unnecessarily, Steele sometimes discounted his concerns.  Jeff’s 17-year-old, younger sister Jennifer was a beautiful girl and due to graduate in a couple of weeks from a local and prestigious, female prep school.

“Could she have gone somewhere else? She must have spent the night at a friend’s house last night.” Steele offered up a comforting possibility.

“No. She called home and asked dad if she could stay over at her friend’s house, and he said ‘no.’ Dad told her to come home. But, she never made it,” replied Jeff.

“Well, don’t overreact. I’m sure she’s somewhere with a friend. Have you called all her other friends to ask if they’ve seen her?” Surely there was a plausible explanation thought Steele.

Jeff continued to relay the events of the previous night. “We’ve called everyone. Mom and I have driven her route in the car all morning. We’ve made a decision that if we have not found her by 10 am, we are calling the police.”

Steele had to hurry back to the operating room. “OK. I will talk to you after work. Call me later, and let me know where she was. And stop worrying. I’m sure everything is fine. She’s probably fallen asleep somewhere.”

Steele returned the phone to the cradle. While she had attempted to convince her boyfriend there was no problem, secretly she felt Jennifer’s disappearance was worrisome and smelled of possible foul play.

Steele returned to her operating room. The procedure was over as the wound was closed, and surgical dressings had already been applied. Brenda and the intern pulled the bloody drapes off the patient, putting them in the trash.  Steele assisted the two surgical residents in transferring the patient from the operating table to the stretcher. Taking her time as there were no more cases in her room for the day, Steele opened the door for the surgical residents as they wheeled the stretcher out of the room and headed to recovery.

Ah, finally a few minutes to sit down and take a break for lunch, Steele thought. When the orderlies came in to clean the room, she walked down the OR corridor toward the staff lounge. Steele contemplated whether to go downstairs to the cafeteria or just get some snacks from the machines. About the time she decided to go downstairs, the OR manager, Ken Percy opened the door of the lounge.

“Steele. Can you and Brenda get Room 16 set up right away for an emergency coming up from the ER? It’s a gunshot wound and the patient should be here in a few minutes. Standard abdominal set up with a vascular tray.”

“Great. Wouldn’t you know we wouldn’t get a 5-minute break? Another day without lunch,” Brenda said to Steele as she rolled her eyes.

“Typical day. You know there was a full moon last night. We better go get the room ready.” Steele replied.

Steele scrubbed in for the trauma that was due to arrive from the ER any moment. However, one of the surgical residents popped his head in the room to let them know he had just canceled the trauma case. The patient in the ER had expired. As Steele tore off her surgical gown, Brenda walked in.

“Hey Steele, you just got another call. There’s a message up front for you.”

Steele went to the phone in the office again and dialed the phone number the scheduler had scribbled on scratch paper. Her boyfriend Jeff answered. His voice sounded different.

“Hey, what’s up? Did you find Jennifer?” Steele asked.

Jeff replied softly in a very low tone, “Yes, we found her.”

“Where was she?”

“She was dead.”

“What? What are you talking about? What happened?” Steele screamed in disbelief.

“Mom and I went out and drove the route one more time. We found her. She missed a curve in the road and went up in someone’s yard. Her car was wrapped around a tree.Been there all night. She’s dead.”

Considering every traumatic surgical case Steele had witnessed working as a nurse in a major trauma center, there was not one event that had prepared her for hearing these tragic words or the pain in her boyfriend’s voice.