“She’s infected,” Andrews informed him.
The news hit Melendez like a ton of bricks and his stomach twisted in knots. The deadly virus that had already claimed the lives of three people at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital was now invading the body of Dr. Audrey Lim. He had just woken up beside her this morning. She was perfectly fine just a few hours ago. But now, she was infected with the virus they weren’t quite sure what it was. In a matter of time, her fever would spike, she would be struggling to breathe, he observed she already had the rash on her neck, and the virus could very well claim her life, making her the fourth victim of the life-threatening disease. He wanted to do something, he had to do something for his colleague, his friend, and yes, his former and still somewhat current competition.
But Dr. Lim wasn’t his patient. He had a patient of his own whose life was hanging in the balance. Chris desperately needed a bone marrow transplant to strengthen his immune system and his donor, Bob, was quarantined in the emergency room since he was exposed to the virus. Just like Lim was.
“Dr. Melendez,” Andrews stated.
“Hmm?” Melendez brought himself back to reality, wondering how long he had been zoned out in his own world.
“We have work to do,” informed Andrews.
“Right,” said Melendez. As the team continued to review the situation, many emotions were coursing through Melendez: anger, concern, heartbreak, nervousness, and uncertainty. Would Chris receive his bone marrow transplant before he flat lined since he had signed a DNR? Would they figure out what the virus was before it infected other patients (seriously, why was the damn CDC team stuck on the east coast)? Would Lim get the proper treatment in time and more importantly, would she live? He couldn’t help but keep looking back at the TV monitors and Lim seemed to be leading Dr. Reznick in a combat field style surgery, but she was clearly struggling to breathe, “No, NO!” Melendez thought to himself. He did his best to distract himself but his eyes kept coming back to the screen like a magnet on a refrigerator. And then he saw her collapse. Morgan didn’t even notice at first, but then the young blonde resident finally glanced up and noticed the situation Lim was in, “Why isn’t anyone helping her? PLEASE SOMEBODY HELP HER!” Melendez silently screamed.
His beeping pager interrupted his thoughts. He glanced down and noticed Chris had flat lined so he immediately left the conference room and met up with Claire in Chris’s room. Claire had a look of sorrow on her face, “What happened?”
“His body just gave,” informed Claire.
Melendez knew Chris had signed a DNR and he knew it would be a clear violation to attempt to resuscitate him, but he just couldn’t let him die. He had to be able to save someone today, “Start compressions, I’ll go get the defibrillator,” he ordered.
“He signed a DNR,” scolded Claire lightly.
“Well, he shouldn’t have,” Melendez began to set up everything.
“This is battery,” said Claire firmly.
“He doesn’t need to die,” said Melendez, “We’re going to get his donor’s marrow.”
“Andrews agreed to the plan?” asked Claire in surprise.
“Not yet. If he doesn’t, we’ll think of something else,” he said, “I have to save him. I have to help someone live.”
Claire sighed, but obeyed Melendez’s orders and started compressions. She had no idea what had suddenly gotten into him. He almost NEVER violated protocol and had been scolding her just weeks ago for going around him to explain a form of treatment to a patient without his consent. She knew he was concerned about Dr. Lim, she was too, but to violate a patient’s DNR? There was something more behind him desperately wanting to save Chris.
After several minutes, Chris obtained a steady pulse, so Melendez discarded his gown and mask and started to head towards the ER, “Dr. Melendez, don’t you have to talk with Andrews first?”
“I will soon, right now I have to take care of something else.”
Somehow Melendez’s random walking had led him to the ER. There were still security guards standing outside the doors, but he had a clear view of isolation. At this point, there were physicians attending to Dr. Lim. Melendez observed the monitors and her oxygen saturation and respiration rates were extremely low and plummeting fast, like the first drop on a roller coaster. She was clearly having trouble catching her breath, and goodness, that little nose piece wasn’t going to do anything to help her! He heard one of the doctor’s state, “She’s in full respiratory failure.” He couldn’t help but want to do something, “I’ve got to get in there!” he thought to himself.
He went to get closer to the door when one of the security guards stopped him, “I’m sorry, sir, this emergency room is under quarantine,” he informed.
“I know that!” Melendez shouted perturbed, “But I have to get in there. One of my friends is infected. I’ll follow all protocol, I’ll wear the HAZMAT suit, and I won’t touch anything or go anywhere. But you have to let me in!”
“I’m sorry, sir. Unless you’re a member of the CDC, we’re not authorized to let you into the quarantine zone,” the security guard apologized.
Melendez barged past him and leaned against the glass door, watching the doctors, nurses, and other staff members tend to Lim. She glanced over and noticed him standing there, but she was too weak to call out to him or say anything. Still, she had seen him. And that was all that mattered to Melendez, “Just have someone page me if Dr. Lim flat lines,” said Melendez, walking away into a remote area of the hospital. Once he was completely alone, he couldn’t help but kick the air and slam his hand against the wall, a pain shooting through him arm from the impact. She was fine just this morning. He had downplayed their romantic endeavors the previous night to keep things civil in the workplace and to keep things professional. He also hadn’t wanted to risk ruining their friendship and their mutual respect for one another because they had been competing for the Chief of Surgery position just days ago, until Andrews had decided to keep it for himself. He had decided to play it safe.
But now, Lim was at the clutches of death’s door, and if the doctors or the CDC couldn’t get a handle on whatever virus was causing her symptoms, then he would never get the chance to tell her how he really felt. That secretly, deep down, he was hoping to be more than friends one day. That if they truly cared about each other they could make it work. That he wanted to go out with her in a different way than just friends having a drink after work.
But right now, none of those feelings really mattered. Sure, they were still there, but right now, there was only one thought racing through his mind. He went back over to the door of the secluded area where he could get a clear view of her, looking so helpless and pale, not quite as white as the sheets covering the gurney on which she was lying, but her dark blue scrubs were containing the most color on her. She looked over towards the hall and this time, her eyes stayed focused on him, though he didn’t know if she was staring at him or just staring in that direction. It didn’t matter to him either way. He could see her and she might have been able to hear him when he said, “Please don’t die, Audrey.”