I first met Chelsea as I was heading up to the fourth floor bathroom to puke at work...
This illness leaves me nauseated at times. Not wishing to force my office mates to listen to the sounds of me throwing my guts up in the office bathroom, I began a hunt for a large, mostly unpopulated bathroom. I found one on the fourth floor. It was largish and very clean and I had never seen anyone in there.
So, it became my first pick puking place. (And now you have this lovely portrait of me in your mind, don't you?)
The only problem that I foresaw was that sometimes the elevator was slow and I worried that I wouldn't make it in time. But, I always did.
So, one day when the nausea began to rear it's ugly head, I slipped out of the office and headed up to my fourth floor bathroom.
Just as I was pushing the door open, a young woman was heading out. She stopped short and looked so delighted to see me that I was taken aback.
"Well, HELLO THERE!!!?" she said, looking just pleased as punch.
I stood thinking fast. Obviously we knew each other, yes? I went through my mental rolodex trying to place her. Let's see...she was youngish, had on a student nurse's outfit, hmmm.
I was getting nothing. So, I allowed her to shake my hand vigorously up and down. This made me very sure that I needed to vomit quite soon.
I smiled uncertainly. "Um...sorry. Have we met?" I asked her, prepared to slap my forehead and say, "OF COURSE!" when she reminded me of who she was.
"Oh, we don't know each other. I'm Chelsea and I've just begun my student nursing here. I'm so glad to meet you!?"
It was totally annoying how she spoke in exclamation points and question marks after every damn thing she said. I smiled a little haughtily.
"Hello...I hope you enjoy your time here," I managed to say.
"Oh! I know I will?! I have wanted to be a nurse since I was a child!? But this hospital is so darn big!? I wonder if I will ever get to know my way around?!"
I said that I was sure she would and then marched right into a stall, determined that this was going to be our only conversation.
"Well...okay. Buh Bye then?!!" she asked and said.
I didn't bother to answer and waited to hear the door finally swoosh shut. Mercifully, it did.
A few days later, I had the second experience of somehow shutting my password out of my computer system. No idea how I managed to do that. But, I called down to Christabelle to see if she could bail me out...again.
No answer. She never answers the phone. Never. So, I schlepped down to tech operations and opened the door, steeling myself for her jibes at my computer failings yet again.
And there was Chelsea standing next to Christabelle as she sat at the computer.
"Hi," I said as innocently as I could. "Um. Guess what? I managed to suspend my password again..." I said as airily as I could muster.
Chelsea looked so excited that she almost leaped up.
"ME TOO!!?? I'm here again because I managed to do that again!?" she said, sounding like we had both just won the lottery.
Christabelle gave me a wry look. "Come on in, Lucy," she said. "Ethel is already here."
Well, Chelsea thought it was anyway. She hooted like a baby owl over that. Actually gave her knee a slap for good measure.
I wasn't thrilled at being lumped in with Chelsea. Especially after Christabelle informed me that Chelsea and I were the only people she knew who managed to suspend their passwords..
"You and Cricket here are two peas in a pod," she told me.
Chelsea gave a happy chirp laugh.
"Christabelle calls me Cricket because she says I'm so chirpy!?" she told me.
I just nodded.
Christabelle got us both straightened out eventually, but not before she reminded me that really, I needed to have Bing give me some computer lessons.
A few days passed. Luckily, Chelsea did not seem to be frequenting the fourth floor bathroom because I didn't see her again.
And then one day, I was perusing a chart and discovered that the patient was still admitted and so I decided to go to his room to ask him some questions about side effects of a new medication he was taking. I found his room and as I stepped into it, I heard that distinctive voice.
Yes, there was Chelsea sitting in a chair next to the bed, reading to the elderly man in the bed. She was reading a poem by Emily Dickinson. It sounded oddly Dr. Seuessian in her loud, chirpy, questioning voice. ("Do you like green eggs and ham? Would you eat them in a boat? Would you eat them with a goat? Do you like them here or there? Will you eat them anywhere?")
I stood at the end of the bed and Chelsea stopped and looked adoringly at me.
"WELL HELLO!?? How are you? What brings you up here?!!" Honestly, you would think I was Brad Pitt or something, as enthusiastic as she was.
The little old man smiled crinkle like at me. He seemed to like Chelsea, commented on how she always came in and read to him each day and what a nice young lady she was. Chelsea went pink with pleasure.
I said that yes, Chelsea sure was an effusive woman...and then asked him if he could tell me how he was feeling with his new meds, etc. We talked for a while and then I told them that I would let them get back to their poetry.
"Isn't Emily Dickinson just so dreamy?!" Chelsea asked me.
I said that yes, she sure was...
I didn't see Chelsea again until today. I was making my usual 1 p.m. visit to the fourth floor bathroom. I pushed open the door, stepped in and immediately heard a muffled wailing from one of the stalls.
I stopped in my tracks. Okay. There was no mistaking that voice. It could only belong to Cricket, I mean Chelsea. I thought briefly about stepping right back out of the bathroom. She need never know that I was here. I could slip out unobtrusively...
But,no. I couldn't do that. I knew that.
I gingerly stepped up to the closed door of the stall and rapped gently on it.
"Chelsea, is that you? It's Maria. Are you okay?"
What a smart question? OF COURSE SHE IS NOT OKAY. WHAT A DUMB COMMENT!"
"Um...yes. I'm just....fine.." Her voice trailed off with no hint of a question or an exclamation mark.
I sighed. Stood with my hand on the stall door.
"Chelsea, honey. Are you ill?" I asked her.
A short silence. Then she managed to say that really, she was okay.
She wasn't. But she had let me off the hook....I could walk out now if I wanted.
But, of course. No. The mean, petty part of me wanted badly to walk out. The better part of me, the part that Liv brings out in me, decided to stay.
"Chelsea? Why don't you come on out?" I asked.
Suddenly, the door was flung open and a weeping Chelsea threw herself into my arms, her face blotchy and red.
She wept copiously on my scrub shoulder. My scrubs were light blue and the shoulder steadily turned a bright shade of blue as she wet it.
Finally, I was able to pull her away from me.
"Tell me what is going on," I said to her.
And she did.
Apparently, she had come in to work this morning and discovered that Mr. Morrison, the gentleman whom she read to, had died in the night. She was distraught.
("He was getting better! Everyone said so!" )
I felt badly for her.
She let out a shuddery sigh. "It's just that I really liked him and I think he really liked me, too," she was able to say. "And it feels like he is the only one in this place that really did like me, you know?"
Well, yes. I did know. I imagined that it hadn't been easy for her. I know that I never was happy to see Chelsea and honestly, if I had to put up with her on a daily basis, I may have lost my mind from all that chirpy good will and those exclamation points and question marks flying out of her mouth constantly.
I patted her. Told her that I knew it must be hard. I was so sorry about Mr. Morrison. He seemed like a very nice man, yes he did. And that she mustn't let this get to her. She was going to watch people die. It was part of her job description now. But, hey. It wasn't true that no else liked her. Well, I liked her just fine...
She took her moist self off of me and looked up at me, trying to smile.
"You DO?!" she asked.
I nodded. "Of course, I do. Don't be silly. And I know that I'm not the only one." I suspected that this was a falsehood, but maybe not. Who knew?
Eventually, she calmed down and was able to go back to work.
First, though, she told me about how she lived alone with her mother who had multiple sclerosis. She said that was one reason that she wanted to be a nurse, so that she could take better care of her mother. She said that it had been just the two of them her whole life and that yes, it did get lonely, but even though she tried to make friends, well...it just never seemed to take, you know?
Well, you know what I did.
I said that she would have to come over for dinner sometime. And bring her mother.
She beamed up at me through her tears.
"Oh, I would love that!? Well, my mother probably wouldn't want to come, she doesn't like to leave the house. But, I sure would love a dinner out sometime!?" she told me.
I told her that we would have to have Christabelle over at the same time.
She practically leaped up in the air.
"Oh!? I just love Christabelle!? She is so...funny and sweet!?" she said.
I frowned a little bit. I have never pegged Christabelle as sweet but hey...what do I know?
So, now..I suspect that I have gone and done it. And I wondered if Christabelle would even show up if she knew that Cricket, I mean Chelsea was going to be there?
Oh, what the hell...might as well invite her for Thanksgiving along with all the rest.
The more the merrier!!???