Tag Archives: Registered nurse

Nurse as Patient

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Lately it’s been my turn to be the patient.  I’m being “worked up” for a problem with my kidneys.  The most recent step in this process was getting a CT scan of my kidneys, ureters, and bladder – aka CT KUB – or CT abd/pelvis – all the same thing really.  I’ve never had a CT scan before so I was incredibly anxious about having the contrast dye injected through an IV, and lying on a stretcher being pushed in and out of a giant whirring machine.  Luckily my friends reassured me (thank you Facebook friends!) that everything would be fine.

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It’s going to swallow me up!

I was sent to an imaging center specifically designed for people with urinary/kidney problems, soooo that meant as I sat in the waiting room – one by one – older, gray-haired men filed in.  They probably wondered “What is this little girl doing here??”  One man was having a PSA level drawn (prostate-specific antigen which is elevated in prostate cancer), and another man was having some kind of injection.

Then it was my turn.

Luckily, the technician was excellent and described every step of the process.  He explained that the contrast dye would make me feel flushed and very warm, and that I would feel like I was peeing on myself (great).  His voice was calm, and he was obviously very experienced.  He put me at ease – a true professional.

So now I wait – again.  Next week I’ll find out the results of all the testing that’s been done over the last 2 months – a long, drawn out process that I suspect will amount to nothing.  But that’s just my cynical nurse voice talking – I fear that I will be told the results are inconclusive, or that I’ll need more tests, or worse yet – “All of these things are just normal variants.”  And I will wait for the bills in the mail.

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On My Mind

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Being a nurse is always challenging, but some days it can be a little much emotionally. Today was one of those days.  And I find myself reminiscing about certain children I’ve cared for in the past.

Ever since I was a brand new nurse 13 years ago, I’ve always worked with kids.  Some kids stay on my mind for the whole day or night – some for always.

  • I’ll never forget my 8-year-old patient on the pediatric hematology/oncology floor.  I was a brand new nurse working the night shift.  He had been diagnosed with cancer in his home country and traveled with his mom to the states for treatment.  He contracted a horrible fungal infection along the way.  His mom worked nights and he didn’t speak English, so I was assigned to him.  Nevermind that I was brand-spanking-new and he had multiple drips and meds and I was overwhelmed.  I managed fine.  He had a glowing smile, and he sometimes would join us at the nurses station and drink a cup of coffee with us!  Last I heard he was doing well, but that was years ago.
  • Even though it was brief, I won’t forget the baby who died in the emergency room.  I was working the night EMS transported a 1-year-old baby to us.  The nurses who had been working there for awhile knew of this baby.  He had a chronic congenital condition called hydrocephalus and was not expected to have a long life.  He was a DNR – Do Not Resuscitate – patient.  That meant the healthcare team could only provide specific treatments laid out in the plan.  That included oxygen and epinephrine/atropine.  The baby died right there in front of us.  We gave the baby to his mom and gave them privacy so she could say goodbye.  In the meantime, I contacted the Organ and Tissue Center and made a sad discovery – this baby didn’t even weigh enough to donate his organs, even though the mom was willing.  It was heartbreaking.  And I had to go on about my shift, taking care of ear infections and demanding patients, and I wanted to yell at them “There’s a dead baby in Bed 6!” It was a nightmare that I didn’t want to experience again.  I didn’t last long in that ER.
  • When I worked at a different school several years ago, one of our students was taken away on a stretcher by EMS because he practically rolled off the bus, disoriented, saying “My dad gave me a white pill.”  He was physically ok, but I wonder what his life has been like.
  • When I worked in a pediatrician’s office, we took care of a newborn who was in foster care.  She had a birth defect called partial anencephaly – her brain didn’t properly form and she was only born with primitive brain stem function.  She was a beautiful little baby, and her instinct to suck kept her alive for a short time, taking a bottle from her foster mom.  I couldn’t get over how “normal” she looked from the outside.  The doctor I worked with said “It’s so sad that she won’t develop past this point.”  I wonder how long she lived.

I’ve done this long enough to know:  Today’s experiences may fade away.  We have so many encounters with so many patients as nurses, that it is impossible to remember them all.  Today I was told one of our students had major emergency surgery and we will wait to see how the child’s functioning will be affected.  Another student suffered a traumatic hand injury at the end of the school day – I sent him off after some quick first aid to be taken care of.  These two will stay on my mind for awhile.  Even when I feel my brain and heart have reached their maximum capacity for caring and concern, life goes on and kids get sick and hurt.  And I will stand with other nurses, ready to receive and bound to remember, at least for a time.

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