93: Nurse Carrie

93: Nurse Carrie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

Nurse Carrie

The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.

~H. G. Wells

Turning twelve was a big deal for my niece, Haley. It was the age when my brother said she could get her ears pierced and start wearing make-up in public. Since this was clearly a milestone, I planned a trip to a day spa for a first make-up lesson and fun. We stopped for an early lunch first at a little steakhouse.

Three bites into her steak, Haley’s face got bright red and she started slapping herself on the back of the neck. Understanding hit me just as suddenly. “Haley, are you choking?”

She nodded.

“Can you get any air at all?”

She shook her head.

I pulled her out of the booth and tried to do the Heimlich maneuver, but it didn’t work.

I like to think I remained stoic in the face of crisis, that I calmly asked for assistance, but I’m pretty sure I started screaming for help like a crazy person. Because I was a crazy person at that moment. Crazy with fear and, for thirty of the longest seconds of my life, sure that my niece was going to die right in my arms.

I was hollering for help and for the hostess to call 911 and doing a weird half-praying, half-screaming thing that I am confident God understood… and then my Good Samaritan came.

Nurse Carrie.

It was barely 11:00 so there weren’t many people in the restaurant. In fact, there were only nine other people in the restaurant then… and one of them was Nurse Carrie. She came running over, yelled that she was a nurse, turned Haley around, wrapped her arms around her torso, and did the Heimlich maneuver hard enough to yank Haley off her feet.

Twice.

And the steak came flying out.

The next few minutes were a blur of tears, hugs, and the manager fawning all over us like the whole choking issue was his fault. I managed to get Nurse Carrie’s first name in all the commotion but then she faded into the background while I tried to calm down.

At which point Haley looked up at me fearfully and put things in true twelve-year-old perspective. “Did I look stupid?”

Man, I love that kid.

In any case, I’ve never seen Nurse Carrie again and the odds she will ever see this are really quite slim. But I think of her often and pray for her more.

God bless you, Nurse Carrie, wherever you are.

~Kimberly Yates

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