Read To Everything a Season Online

Authors: Lauraine Snelling

Tags: #FIC042040, #FIC027050, #FIC042030, #Christian fiction, #Love stories

To Everything a Season (21 page)

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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“Me too.” Together they walked to the center of the wooden platform, where Daniel was waiting with a handcart.

“How did you get here so quick?” she asked.

“I left a while ago, but you and Penny were visiting so happily that Mother and I came on in. She wanted to make sure there was lemonade ready.”

Astrid tucked her arm around his. “You are the best husband ever. How come I am so lucky?”

“Thank you, but you are easy to love.”

The train hissed and screeched to a halt, steam billowing
out. The conductor waved, jumped down, and turned to bring out the step. Three young women stood waiting on the inside steps.

“This must be them.” Astrid stepped forward and smiled. One by one, the conductor helped them down. The first resembled a frightened rabbit, timid with a red nose that she held a handkerchief to. The second wore a grin as wide as her face. Her eyes locked on Trygve. And the third, the smallest of the three, with wild black hair that was supposedly confined in a net with a hat perching like a bird in a nest, descended with a firm step.

“I am Dr. Astrid Bjorklund Jeffers, and this is my husband, Daniel.” She extended her hand to the timid one. “And you are . . . ?”

“Corabell Nester.” Even her handshake was weak.

“I am Vera Wells, and I am delighted to be here.” This one shook hands with Astrid firmly and smiled brightly at Trygve, who seemed to have eyes only for the third.

“I am Nurse Miriam Hastings, and I am pleased to meet you. I have heard so much about the doctors Bjorklund.”

Her gaze snagged on that of Trygve's, and she raised her chin slightly before looking back to Astrid. “Our luggage is in the car behind the passenger cars.”

“Yes. Mr. Knutson and Mr. Jeffers will see to that. I do hope your train ride was satisfactory.”

“It was. Thank you.”

She had a lovely lilt to her voice, and they all spoke English well. What a relief that was.

“Since we have a very small town, I will show you where you are to stay until your boardinghouse rooms are ready. Then we will go to the hospital for a tour. Unless you are all too weary.”

When they all murmured that they were all right, she motioned them to head east on Main Street.

Glancing over her shoulder, she saw two men helping a third off the train.
Oh please, Lord, don
't let this be a repeat of the last group
of men that arrived.

Chapter 24

A
nd that concludes our tour of the hospital. Easy, wasn't it?”

“Dr. Bjorklund, everything looks so new.” Miriam stared around her.

“Well, yes, the hospital has not been open very long. Your hospital in Chicago is quite old in comparison. We are still trying to bring in needed supplies, but we learned years ago to make do with what we had, which wasn't much. Tomorrow we'll show you our offices at Dr. Bjorklund's house.” When someone snickered, Astrid continued. “Perhaps I should start using my married name, Jeffers, but everyone is used to me being Bjorklund, so it can be confusing.”

“How many staff are on each shift?” Corabell asked.

“Well, much of it depends on how many patients we have here. We always have one nurse, and what you might call an orderly on duty. Here each of us just does whatever needs to be done—not laundry but sometimes cleaning. We have someone come in during the day to do the laundry. The drying lines are behind the hospital. I know we need a regular cleaner too, but we don't have one right now.”

“Are we to understand that money is a problem here?” Miriam questioned.

“Yes and no. We are not totally self-supporting, by any means. We are a part of the hospital in Chicago, and they help support us. We are praying we will grow to meet all of our dreams. The need is here, but—”

The bang of the front door against the wall snapped their attention around. Two men were carrying or rather dragging a man by his shoulders. Thorliff had held the door open for them.

“We have a problem, Dr. Bjorklund. A serious one.”

Astrid and Deborah MacCallister got to the patient at the same time.

“Let's get him into the examining room.”

Nurse Deborah ran down the hall and opened a door. “Bring him in here.”

“Does he speak English?” She looked to the two men helping him. “To start, do you speak English?”

One man nodded. “He does but with a heavy accent. He understands more than he can speak.”

“What nationality?”

“Irish. I've worked with him before. He's a good carpenter.”

Together they hoisted him up on the padded table.

“Can you open his shirt so I can listen to his chest?” The men did as she asked and then stepped back. She moved the stethoscope around, then said to the men, “We will keep him here, but could you tell us what you know before you leave?”

“His name is Seamus O'Flaherty. He's had a cough ever since I knew him, maybe two, three months. We had a job repairing a building down on the piers in New York, and when that was done, we couldn't find no more work. Then we heard of a man looking for workers to go to North Dakota. We signed right up.”

Astrid looked over. Miriam had picked up some paper and
was writing down what the man said. Looking to the other new nurses, she said, “Would you two please go scrub in case I need more help here? Thank you, Miriam.” She turned back to the man. “Sir, what is your name?”

“Harvey, ma'am. Harvey Jessup.”

“Does he have a family?”

“Yes. We all do. But we had to get work and so we came.”

“I see.” She looked to Thorliff, who was leaning against the doorjamb. “Could you help them undress Mr. O'Flaherty and move him into the room we are going to go get ready?”

“Of course.”

She turned to the two new men. “Please, before you leave here, scrub at our sink, just in case we are dealing with something contagious. And then thank you very much. We appreciate your help. I know supper will be served at the boardinghouse, and you must be famished.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Astrid laid a gown on the table and left the room, beckoning to her three new nurses. “There are aprons hanging in the nurses' room. Please put one on and scrub. We need to get the private room ready. We're going to isolate him.”

“May we ask what your probable diagnosis is?” Miriam looked up from her notes. “Pneumonia?”

“I hope so.” Astrid shook her head. “I know that sounds cruel, but the possible alternatives are . . .” She looked to the nurses for answers.

“Uh, influenza? Uh, what did his lungs sound like?” Corabell Nester stammered but was trying.

“Please don't say consumption,” Vera Wells added.

“When we have him settled, we will give him a bath. Since we do not have a male orderly, we will have to bathe him . . . uh . . . discreetly. Then you will each take his temperature and
listen to his lungs. Nurse Hastings, please continue with the record keeping. We have to have accurate records, but make sure you listen too.” Record keeping was one of the things that too often fell through the not-enough-workers cracks. And one of the duties she often found herself catching up on late at night.

Deborah fixed two buckets of soap and carbolic acid, to be ready for them to wash the bed frame, the table beside the bed, and finally to mop the floor. “This is going to be one fast room preparation. Come on, ladies.”

Astrid returned to the examining room and knocked on the door. “How are you doing?”

“Nearly finished,” Thorliff answered.

“He will be more comfortable with his head higher, so take that padded V frame there in the corner and get him braced against it for now. The room isn't quite ready.” She paused a moment. “Gentlemen, I have another question. Have you seen him cough up any blood?”

“Not that we know of.”

“Thank you.”

She fetched a stretcher and leaned it against the wall by the door. When it opened and the two men came out, she pointed to it and asked, “Can you please stay long enough to help carry him into the other room? Has he regained consciousness yet?”

“Don't think he was ever out, just too weak or something to answer. That train ride was mighty tiring. 'Specially when you are sick.”

“Was he sick when you left New York?”

“Not like this,” the other man added.

Good. He can speak
English too
. Possibly German. But unsure of what accent she was dealing with, she just asked, “What country did you come from?”

“Holland. I have been in this country almost a year. My
brother wrote and told me to learn English, so we did as much as we could before we came.”

“You were very wise. Life here will be much easier without a language barrier.”

When the room was ready, she brought her nurses in. “While they hold the stretcher, we are going to lift him over. You know how, correct?”

They nodded and lined up along the table opposite of the stretcher. “Now we will lift and you men slide that under him.” The four women slipped their hands underneath the sheet he was lying on and lifted on the count of three. Even at that, the strain on Corabell's face was not good.

In the room they repeated the drill, only this time Thorliff helped too, and once their patient was on the bed, she excused the men and thanked them again. Then they set a V frame under the mattress to raise the head and spread a sheet over their patient.

When she saw him trying to say something, Astrid leaned closer.

“Th-thankee,” he strained to say.

“You are welcome. I'm going to make something for you to drink that will soothe your throat. Are you more comfortable?”

He nodded, closing his eyes again.

After all three nurses finished the observation and had him drink the honey, lemon, and whiskey in hot water, they left the room.

“All right, what did you observe?” She nodded to Corabell first.

“His lungs are congested, rattling like pneumonia, but he is not running a high temperature.”

“Anyone notice anything else?”

“His skin color is gray, and his nails are on the blue side. He is not getting enough air.”

“Good. Anything else?”

“No, but the V frame should help relieve his breathing. We could do percussion on his back to loosen up the congestion in his lungs.” Miriam turned at the sound of the man coughing. “Do you have squares of muslin he can use and possibly a spittoon? That way we could see if there was any blood.”

“And you could ask him about that when he is awake enough.”

“The more fluid he drinks, the more his lungs will loosen too.”

Astrid smiled and nodded at the same time. “Very good. I know you are used to having a doctor who lays down the law, but we do things a bit differently here. Because we are so short-staffed, we work as a team. So you will be called on to help with diagnoses, charting, and treatments of all kinds. There are many old-time treatments that are very effective, and since my mother is an expert in those, we learn from her also. Observation and paying attention to what you sense are critically important.

“For right now, the treatment plan is to force fluids, give him good food to help rebuild his system, and keep him comfortable so he can get well. Any questions?”

The three shook their heads. “Then we will return to my house, where Mrs. Jeffers will most likely have supper ready. And I am sure you are weary enough to drop, so a good night's sleep will be appreciated. You will not be on call tonight. I was hoping to introduce you to the other Dr. Bjorklund, but we will wait until tomorrow for that.”

I sure hope
she feels well enough to help with the classes
. The thought of all she had to do made Astrid feel as if she were sinking into a mud pit. In just over a month the two Indian women would be here, and Kaaren would be starting school, so she would not have time to help, as she did with the others.

Thank God Far was doing better, so maybe Mor could help. But she had already taken Manny in and was continuing to
work with getting him stronger. There was a limit to Mor's time and energy.

The other men they had isolated at the school. She would ask Elizabeth to read up on consumption. Perhaps there were some new things that could help more. If that was indeed what they were dealing with.

Amelia Jeffers did have a supper of sliced cheese, bread, salads from the garden, and a dessert of raspberry pie ready for them.

“I made sure we had lots of hot water, so if any of you would like to take a bath, you may. I remember feeling so grimy when I came out here on the train. We are hoping your rooms at the boardinghouse will be ready in a couple of weeks. For the moment one of you will board at the other doctor's house, but for tonight, perhaps we can make you comfortable here. No doubt you will be the first guests in the new wing.”

The next morning after rounds, Astrid assigned different jobs to the three at the hospital and at midmorning returned to talk with Elizabeth, who was sitting on the back porch drinking tea with some toast on a plate beside her. Astrid sank into a chair.

“I take it Inga stayed with Grandma last night?”

“Yes, to her delight and my relief. I felt so much better last night, and now here I am again.”

“The nausea is back?” A cup of coffee appeared at her side, along with toast and jam. “Thank you, Thelma.”

“You know, I was ready for one of them to stay here, but . . .” She glanced at Elizabeth. “We do have plenty of room.” She shrugged “Maybe. . .”

“Thank you, but I figured you had enough going on here, and Mrs. Jeffers is delighted to have the young ladies there. She
absolutely endeared herself to them last night when she said they could have baths.”

“I just wish I would get over this . . . this malaise. I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.”

“It will go away soon.” Thelma picked up some dishes.

Astrid turned to look at the older woman. “How do you know?”

“Why, she's pregnant.”

“I am not!” Elizabeth set her cup down with a rattle. “Whatever makes you think that?”

“Classic morning sickness, and you probably missed one of your cycles.”

“No I didn't—umm, I don't think so.”

Thelma shrugged and returned to the kitchen.

“Could she be right?” Astrid felt she'd been dealt a severe blow to her diaphragm.

“No, we've been so careful. Impossible.”

Abstinence is
the only sure way, my friend, and you just admitted
to not following that path
. “Any other symptoms? Sore breasts? Tired? Well, we know about that one. Think, Elizabeth. She could be right. And if she is, we have some serious planning to do.”
She's lost what? Three babies?
And each time she has taken longer to recover. Dear
God, what are we going to do? I warned them
she might not make it through another pregnancy. Oh, Thorliff,
I am not going to be the one to tell
you.

“When is your next cycle due?”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, the better to figure. “Two weeks, and I am always on time.”

Astrid sipped her coffee and nibbled on her toast. “Then we will know for sure. And if you are pregnant, you will be off your feet. You can lead classes from your settee. You can take
charge of the medical records, ordering supplies, and all the other things you can do without getting up.”

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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