After Jaque Nodell's terrific post on wheelchair-bound characters in DC love comics ( http://sequentialcrush.blogspot.com/2009/11/dcs-pity-party.html ) I kind of half remembered seeing something similar in my collection somewhere. Then the other day it turned up as I was looking for the next nurse romance story to scan for a project I'm working on. This story from November 1973, "Love Ran Away (but I was tied to a wheel chair)" combines nurse romance with the disability awareness, and is featured on the cover of the comic.
"Love Ran Away" is a simple story with an unusual setting. Tina and Jimmy are wheelchair bound lovers who race each other in the corridors of the hospital. They have never formally expressed their love for each other, but it is evident, at least to Tina, in other ways. When they race, Tina always 'throws' the race by braking and letting Jimmy win. This almost ceremonial interaction finishes with a kiss, and a fairly intense one at that. Tina also dreams of the two of them running together, unfettered by the wheelchairs they must of necessity be bound to in the real world.
Enter Nurse Ellen Hanson into the mix. She takes an instant liking to Jimmy, and Jimmy seems taken with her. At least, he's engrossed in his interactions with Ellen to the exclusion of Tina. Tina regrets that she now only races and kisses Jimmy in her dreams. As Nurse Ellen becomes more involved with Jimmy, and against all hope, tries to encourage him to walk, Tina is left out in the cold to lament the loss of her love and even to doubt it ever existed from Jimmy's side. Now her dreams have Jimmy running with his nurse.
But it all comes to a climax, and resolution in Tina's favor, without any action on her part. When he falls, Ellen suddenly comes to the realization that Jimmy isn't going to walk, as she had known all along really. Furthermore she goes on to acknowledge that she had seen the opportunity to help Jimmy walk as a way to compensate for the time she had paralyzed her own brother in a car accident in which she was the driver. Ellen also intuitively knows that there was love between Tina and Jimmy, and that she had interposed herself between the two of them. She apologizes, and leaves in a distressed state. What is unusual about this nurse depiction is that the psychologically troubled individual is more a stereotype of social workers than nurses - I don't think I've come across it before as an image of nurses. The mixed up individual deriving self therapy from their work in a helping profession is, however, a media stereotype of social workers.