While Nancy was adjusting the drip rate of the IV, she looked down and noticed the contents of the medicine cup on her patient's bedside table. It contained a small, somewhat bloody tooth.
"What have we here?" she exclaimed, looking down at Amanda's wan little face.
"It's my tooth. I lost it when that new nurse was helping me brush my teeth this morning. She said I had to save it to show my mom."
"Let me see," said Nancy. She bent down and examined the gaping hole in Amanda's mouth, which she obediently opened. Catching a whiff of toothpaste on Amanda's breath, she made note to compliment the nursing student on her empathic emphasis of this milestone.
"That's worth at least 50 cents from the tooth fairy. You will need to put it under your pillow tonight," said Nancy.
Nancy rinsed the tooth and put it in the clean medicine cup she had just used to bring Amanda her pain pill. She decided she would leave the night nurse some money to put under Amanda's pillow. She thought briefly of how excited her six-year old daughter Katie had been when she lost her first tooth. Katie was the same age as Amanda, but they were very different. Katie seemed to have the giggles all day long, yet it was rare that Amanda even smiled.
"I don't believe in fairies. If there was that kind of magic, then a fairy would have helped to make me well." Amanda said dejectedly.
"Oh honey, you are getting better. It is just taking a while." Nancy leaned down again, this time to give Amanda a hug. Amanda had been ill for several years, in and out of the hospital, sometimes for extended lengths of stay. She was well known by all the nurses, and they all cared a lot about her. She was far too solemn for her age, but rarely complained.
While Nancy was assisting with a chest tube insertion later that day, she was still thinking about Amanda and suddenly she had an idea. During a rare quiet moment, while most of the other nurses were in the charting area, she told them about it. Most of them were immediately agreeable, although John pretended he needed some convincing.
"It's bad enough that I had to break gender stereo-types to be a nurse. Now you want me to wear fairy wings?" Well, okay - if you think we can make Amanda laugh - - but only when I am in her room."
Jennifer spoke up, "Housekeeping isn't going to like having to clean up glitter - whether it is fairy dust or not!"
That gave Nancy another idea. At first, her plan had just involved all the nurses wearing fairy wings the next day. They were helping Amanda get better - they could be the fairies she had wished for! But then she realized, it didn't have to be just nurses.
"We will include housekeeping in this. I will make extra fairy wings and leave them outside of Amanda's door with a sign, inviting everyone who goes in to put them on - housekeeping, doctors, medical students, respiratory therapists, lab technicians and everyone who visits her room tomorrow!"
On the way home, Nancy purchased wire and some netting. Using her daughters Halloween fairy costume wings as a pattern, she worked long after she normally would have been in bed. She arrived for her shift 15 minutes early the next day and distributed the wings. Several of the nurses had even accessorized their scrubs in an attempt to look a bit like Tinkerbell.
After rounds, before checking on their other patients, they all headed in to see Annie. Word had spread quickly, and some of the doctors and hospital staff joined them. When they entered her room, Amanda was propped against the pillows, holding the dollar she had found in her bed.
"Good morning, good morning," the adults sang in unison. "We are your get-well fairies, and we love making you well."
The nurses gathered around the bed. On the count of three, they all threw the bit of glitter they had each been holding, up into the air over Amanda and her bed. "Fairy dust is what you need." As the dust settled on the sheets and in her hair, Amanda smiled - the first real smile on her face most of the nurses had ever seen.
Then, John stepped forward, and wiggled his wings. Nancy gasped sightly, when she realized John had not only put on the wings, but was wearing a tulle skirt over his uniform. He said, "I see my sister, Jeanie the tooth fairy, has already been here. Did she really only leave you a dollar? Wait till I see her - she is really going to get it from me!"
Amanda laughed. Not just a little laugh - she began to giggle. A real giggle that was contagious. Suddenly all of the nurses joined in. They were laughing at John, at themselves and with the pleasure of finally seeing Amanda happy.
Amanda caught her breath and said, "You really don't look like what I thought fairies look like. But is the fairy dust real? Will it make me better?"
"Not right away," Nancy said honestly. "But be patient, Amanda. We are going to get you well!" Nancy turned away, pretending to adjust the window shade. She blinked away tears, suddenly overcome by all this tiny patient had been through and the compassion of her co-workers.
This story was written in response to the prompt“Giggles and Fairy Wings” from the “Words for Wednesday Challenge” this week. My story is entirely fictitious but it has been my privilege to work with many caring nurses. Without hesitation, they would have donned fairy wings and scattered fairy dust, if it would have benefited their patients.
More from living