As we get older, that bond of love can become even stronger and we find ourselves doing things we’d never have thought to make our spouse happy.
This story takes place at a time and place where most of us are thinking more about just getting some sleep than anything else. It was a calm, summer’s evening and the sun was still a few hours from rising, when Geraldine awoke with a start…
Geraldine was sleeping soundly next to her husband. She and Derek had been married for a long while and she was used to the dulcet sounds of his snoring. That night, however, she noticed that his breathing was erratic, unusual. She whispered to him, gently urging him to wake up and see if he was alright.
Derek was unresponsive and if Geraldine’s experience as a nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin taught her anything, it was that something was very wrong. But the two were a far cry from Dublin in the Stillorgan home, and it was still the middle of the night. Geraldine was going to have to take the next steps all on her own…
Dig in the Ribs
Geraldine turned on the bedside lamp, then reached over and tried giving her husband a shake, but he remained unresponsive. When that didn’t work, she dug him in the ribs and asked “Derek are you OK?” She dug him even harder in the ribs. No response came, so she quickly picked up the phone to dial 999.
The nervous nurse tried her best to remain calm and made sure to ask the operator on the line for a cardiac ambulance before telling them her address. Though she couldn’t know for certain, she believed that Derek was undergoing cardiac arrest and she told them as much. But things were about to go from bad to worse…
She was still on the line with the 999 operator when she glanced over at her husband and noticed something odd about his eyes. His eyes were partly open and their pupils were completely black and dilated. Then she noticed that her husband’s skin was turning a purplish black color. He needed air and he needed it quickly.
She told the medic on the phone what was going on and he told her to immediately get him off the bed and onto a hard surface. Geraldine was no spring chicken, mind you, but she was not about to let her husband die without giving him every chance to live. She got up, walked over to his side of the bed, and pulled with all her might…
Onto the Floor
Geraldine grabbed her husband by the ankles and yanked him onto the floor. His body struck the floorboards with a loud thud and his head bounced twice as he hit: she’d forgotten to put a pillow down first. She couldn’t worry about that now though. She fell to her knees and felt for Derek’s pulse. His pulse was good, there was still hope.
Derek Bolger’s fall and the bruise currently forming on his side did nothing to stir him from his current state. He remained unconscious and even began foaming at the corners of his mouth. “I’m starting CPR.” Geraldine told the medic on the phone. She knew, from the crunching sound of broken cartilage as she pressed down for her first compression, that she was in the right place…
He Is Not Dying
Geraldine O’Reilly Bolger was determined to make sure oxygen still made it to Derek’s brain. He was not dying, not on her watch anyway. The ambulance arrived a few minutes later, but it felt as if an eternity had passed since she first called 999. They came upstairs and after seeing the sweat pouring off her forehead, removed her from the scene so they could take over.
A Massive Effort
20 minutes later, and a doctor came down into the kitchen where Geraldine was sitting to tell him that they had shocked Derek nine times, given him adrenaline and other drugs, and that, though they had done everything they could, nothing was reviving him. After all she’d done to keep him alive, they were just going to give up?
The tenacious nurse was having none of that sort of negativity, not when it came to saving her husband’s life. She pointed angrily up the stairs and shouted, “Well…get back up there and keep going, keep going, keep going!” The doctor, flabbergasted by her reply, went back upstairs to finish what he started. 15 minutes later, he came downstairs to tell her the news.
Derek had stabilized but they needed to transport him to St.Vincent’s, Geraldine’s place of work, as quick as possible in order to get him into the intensive care unit. The ICU ward was one that Geraldine knew very well, she’d worked there for years, but sitting there, staring down at her prone, unconscious husband felt different…
After having been under cardiac arrest for so long, Geraldine’s husband Derek had to be sedated. The doctors were concerned that he had been without oxygen to his brain for too long. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t know anything more until they got a chance to examine his responsiveness. They also treated his cuts, scrapes, and first degree friction burns from the prolonged CPR.
Call the Kids
Meanwhile, Geraldine went out into the hall to contact her two sons, both of whom were abroad that summer. She told them what had happened and they made the requisite calls to everyone else. In no time at all, friends and family members were flooding into the ICU to lend their love and support. All of them were waiting for some more good news…
Geraldine Bolger sat drinking her tea and nursing the friction burns she had sustained on her knees from having given Derek so much CPR when a nursing colleague burst into the waiting room. She told Geraldine that her husband was not only awake, but was almost ready to be taken off life support. Relieved, she went in to see him.
It had been a harrowing two days for the Bolgers but finally Derek was awake. He was off life support, though still lying prone in the hospital bed when Geraldine walked over and said. “Derek you look fantastic.” He smiled up at his wife and asked, matter-of-factly, “Am I dead?” “No you are not.” replied his weeping wife…
Am I Late?
A moment later, Derek looked down at his arm as if he were trying to find his watch. He asked, “Am I late for work?” Geraldine chuckled and replied that no, he was off that day. He didn’t remember a thing about what had happened to him. His wife helpfully explained, “You were a bit sick last night, so I brought you into the hospital and you are absolutely fantastic now.”
Derek Bolger spent another week in the Cardiac Care Unit before being sent home with a clean bill of health. He has been fine since that day and considers his wife to be his true hero. As for Geraldine, she is now advocating that everyone, even children, should be trained in CPR…just in case. She recalls her experience most vividly…
Not Like the Movies
“It isn’t like you see in the movies on TV,” explains Geraldine Bolger. “It is hard and it won’t bring them back in 30 seconds but it works and everyone should be given the chance to learn how to do it, starting in schools.” The funny thing is, many of the experts in the field absolutely agree.
Generally speaking, anyone who is under CPR for more than 20 minutes usually has some serious issues caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. At the time of her husband’s attack, Geraldine didn’t care about the statistics. She stepped up for an hour or so and kept going, determined to keep him alive; and she did.