It was a man's voice, loud and gruff, coming from room 254. I was taking a shortcut through the telemetry unit after another busy day in the critical care unit. These weren't my patients, so I kept going.
I stopped and looked around. No other nurses were in sight, so I went to the doorway of room 254 and glanced in. A large man with a big, friendly face was sitting up in the bed. He spoke before I had a chance to open my mouth.
"Do you remember me? You were my nurse on the fourth floor."
"I'm sorry, sir, but I work in the critical care unit. You must have me confused with someone else."
I smiled, wished him a good afternoon, and turned to go on my way. His booming voice stopped me again.
"No, wait a minute." He started snapping his fingers. "Your name is...oh, let me think..."
I turned around to see him looking up at the ceiling, a half smile on his face. The he looked back at me.
"Jackie, right? You've got a long blond ponytail, don't you?"
I was dumbfounded.
"Yes," I said, peeking at my chest to make sure I'd taken off my name tag. (I had.) I reached back and touched the tightly braided bun on the back of my head. Then I studied his face, looking for something that might trigger my memory. His eyes were cool, blue and shiny. Curly salt-and-pepper hair framed his face.
"I'm sorry. I don't work on the fourth floor, and I just don't remember you."
"That's all right, Jackie. I'm just glad I got to see you again. You came into my room about three weeks ago. My heart stopped dead on me and you put those paddles on my chest. I remember you shouting out all these technical sounding words, telling everybody to clear the way. Then you took those paddles and you shocked me back to life."
Suddenly it dawned on me: I had been in his room for a code I'd forgotten about. He was a different person then – unresponsive, with dilated pupils and a red and blue face.
"Who told you I helped you that day?" I asked, my curiosity pulling me into his room.
He laughed and looked back up at the ceiling.
"Nobody told me. I was up on that ceiling there watching you. That's how I saw your long, blond ponytail. And when you turned to look at the monitor, I saw your beautiful face. I'm so glad I got to see you again."
He looked down at me, his smile gone. I could see he was struggling with his emotions.
"I wanted to say thanks. Thanks so much..."
Every time I pass room 254 now, a warm feeling wells up inside me. I am grateful for the shortcut I took that day, and for the fact that I answered the call of "Hey, Nurse."