When you hear that call……that one over the radio, advising that the inbound unit to the ER is coming in lights and sirens, the patient critical, CPR is in progress….there is an adrenaline rush you get thinking, “ok, do I remember my algorhythms? Do I have the right drugs to help bring this patient back from the brink? Will I be strong enough to perform CPR if needed, and what happens if we can’t bring them back?”
A million thoughts race through your mind at a million miles a minute. You think about your family, your other patients that will wait, and you think about yourself. Can I? Will I? Should we?
Then as quick as your thoughts begin, the patient is rushed in, laying on a cot, with someone sitting on top of them pushing doing CPR, someone yelling out the situation, people scurrying to and fro to get IV lines in place and that first blood pressure in less than the first minute of arrival. Doctors start crawling out of the wood work. The ones that never return your pages are suddenly there plus more! The adrenaline is so thick in the room it is palpable. Everyone is nervous and scared, but pulls together as a team to get the job done.
This adrenaline cycle happens over and over until it becomes just rote memory. Then as a nurse, doctor, pharmacist, whatever role you played in the crisis, you are expected to bounce back immediately and resume caring for the patients that you were assigned prior to the emergency. So for an ER nurse the highs are very high and the lows are very low. Rarely do nurses eat, pee or even think about themselves while they are at work, because, patients and satisfaction scores are our top priority.
Adrenaline for me was always a constant part of my daily job, so feeling a little more pumped up that morning made not the slightest impression on me. And then I got sick….at work…taking care of patients on my birthday.
I’ve always prided myself on giving good patient care. If that meant I had to battle a doc, well…..game on! Nurses by nature always think ahead and can almost diagnosis anyone they meet along with treatment plan and meds….except themselves. Well, maybe I ignored a FEW warning signs…..like the tiny amount of profuse sweating….
Or maybe the TINY amount of blurry, double and tunnel vision with a cold blue extremity…..
Or maybe that small headache and teeny bit of chest pressure…….
Given all of these facts, that EVERYONE over looked at my job, (Yup, we are trained professionals here people….just don’t let work get in the way of gossip…sheeeesh….,) I would have made myself a priority as life and limb are priorities, and I was both. The sad state is, I was not, and treated like there was nothing urgent so I sat in the waiting room EIGHT plus hours before being seen. (Now I know why patients always came back cussing, screaming, yelling mad.) That time elapse allowed the damage being done to my brain just extend.
Since by that time everything was going wrong, they decided MAYBE they should take me back…..so they could do scans and CT’s and MRI’s and pulse checks…..yes….will talk about that next time. For now boys and girls, mind your manners, don’t cuss your nurse, because you’ll never know if she’s having a stroke and a brain aneurysm while caring for you!
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