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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Think (09/02/10)

TITLE: Silent Pleas
By Patricia Protzman


I awaken to unfamiliar voices, bright lights, and the smell of antiseptic. Two women dressed in navy blue uniforms stand next to the bed. One says, “Marge, this is Leonard Brown; he’s paralyzed from the neck down, in a coma, and requires total care. Lenny this is Marge, your new aide.”

“Poor man, what happened to him, Cindy?”

“A car accident damaged his brain. Lenny has a tracheostomy, a gastric tube for liquid food, and a Foley catheter but the nurse takes care of them. Your job is to keep him clean and change his position in bed every two hours. We don’t think he can hear but in case he can, speak to him whenever you are in the room.”

As they leave, Cindy says, “Let me introduce you to your next patient.”

Wait! Don’t go. I hear and understand every word you say, where’s my family? Please help me, God.

My voice is silent. Useless arms and legs refuse to obey my commands to move. I can only blink my watery eyes.

A machine beeps. Someone enters the room and stands beside me. Her nametag reads, “Ruth Moore, RN.”

“It’s time to reposition you in bed and hang another bag of food, Lenny.”

Ruth leans into the hallway and beckons Cindy and Marge to come into the room.

“Please turn and reposition Lenny before I re-connect the tube feeding.”

Marge remarks, “He sure is rigid.”

“You would be rigid too if you spent the last ten years in his condition. Cindy says as they leave the room.

Did she say ten years? No, it can’t be true. I just saw Alice and the children yesterday.

Ruth checks my trach, “You’re all set Lenny, see you in the morning.”

During the evening and throughout the night Lenny thinks and prays.

Lord, I know our relationship is not what it should be. Please forgive me for neglecting you. How can I let these people know I am awake, I understand...and where is my family?

The next morning while Marge bathes Lenny she chatters away.

“The temperature is supposed to be in the low eighties today, very warm for April. I have a vegetable garden. The deer eat many of the tomatoes, but I have a surprise for them. My husband is installing a fence.

As she speaks, Marge gazes into Lenny’s eyes. He blinks once when she asks him if he understands. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you do.”

Lenny blinks again.

“Let me try another question. Is it dark outside?”

Lenny blinks twice.

“I knew it, I knew it.” She shouts, “I’ll be right back, Lenny.”

Ruth rushes into the room, stands before him and asks, “Lenny, blink once for yes, twice for no. Are you a woman?”

Lenny blinks twice.

“How many children do you have, One?”

Two blinks.

“Were you born in Ohio?”

One blink.

Ruth turns to Marge, “His answers are correct but it could be a coincidence. I’ll call his doctor. Lenny, your wife and children will be here this evening.”

Thank you, God. I can’t wait to see Alice, Bobby, and Betsy.

At 7 P.M. Lenny’s wife and children arrive. They run to his bedside and hug him. He is shocked to see Alice ten years older. Bobby and Betsy are adults.

“Lenny, can you understand me?” Alice asks.

He blinks once.

“That means yes.” Alice says to Bobby and Alice with excitement in her voice.

“I love you, Lenny. We have prayed for you to awaken for years. Ruth and Marge sure think you have.”

While Alice stares into Lenny’s eyes, he thinks, I love you, too and yes, thank God. He has answered our prayers.

“Daddy, we must look weird to you. I can’t wait to tell you what has happened in the last ten years.”

“Me too, Dad,” says Bobby as he pats his father’s hand.

“Honey, Doctor Williams called me and said he has arranged for you to undergo a few tests tomorrow. He said a communication board and other electronic gadgets might help with communication.

There is also a possibility the tracheostomy could be removed. He’s not sure you will ever speak or walk, but he will do everything he can to rehabilitate you as much as is possible.”

Lenny blinked once. I am grateful to see my wife and children. I can take anything life throws at me just so I have them. Thank you, Lord, for your love, mercy, and answered prayers.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/09/10
This is a great story. As a nurse, it can get so easy to just assume what others tell us about the patient. But it's so important to remember each patient is a human. You did a great job with this story. I really enjoyed every word of it. :)