May 13, 2009

The Nurse Becomes The Patient

I've been debating if I should confess my downfall!

It started so early in the morning that my patients were still sleeping or drowsy as I slipped into their room to take blood pressures about 7 a.m. yesterday morning.

"I was cold all night. I didn't sleep a wink," complained one as I turned off her air conditioner.

I thought I'd get her another blanket when I finished the morning chore assigned to me by the nursing instructor.

The almost to last patient was connected to several machines including humidified oxygen, that unbeknown to me had leaked all over the floor during the night.

I called her name and told her I was just checking her oxygen level and blood pressure. She nodded slightly in the cool, darkened room.

Slightly alarmed when her sats were abnormally low, I went to the nursing station to inform her morning nurse of my results. It was during report (from night nurse to day nurse), so I slipped back into the patient's room to do a more complete assessment.

One instant I was headed for the patient's bedside, the next I was catching myself in a slippery fall as my left foot shot right out from under me like a shooting star that comes from nowhere and flashes by in a heartbeat. More than that, my left arm got caught inside a large open trash can lined with a plastic bag that had the words "Isolation" printed all over it. The arm in the trash can cushioned my fall but injured my shoulder, elbow and left wrist. The next part of the fall was my left hip hitting the floor - and my right knee twisting as I tried to break the fall. There are other parts that are bruised and sore for no explainable reason except that is what happens in that split second between natural walking and bizarre collapse.

That's the 'ouch' part. I mean a really big take-me-home-right-now ouch part. But instead, my very professional, capable, and efficient nursing instructor, initiated first responder reactions that included an official trip to the emergency room.

All my co-nursing students rose to the occasion in great nursing form! As I was wiping my face with my hands after the (very painful) fall, one reminded me that I had been in an isolation room so I shouldn't be touching my face until I washed my hands! Another offered to help me gently remove the nursing jacket. Another took my stethoscope and blood pressure cuff and put them in my nursing bag. Another went to the car and got my purse. Another reminded me to call my husband. One classmate took me to the ER and stayed with me the entire time - telling funny stories to make me laugh.

The really weird part was being wheeled on a cart to x-ray while still dressed in my white nursing uniform (and shoes!). I wonder how many other patients thought it might be a joke? I really wished I had a camera for that one! Is that nurse really a patient? The aide asked if I wanted a sheet so I could cover up my uniform. Too funny!

That reminded me that I never did get my own patient her blanket. I hope she finally got warm.

Today as I recouped at home, several classmates called to ask about me. One collected my English paper from the English Instructor. Someone made my excuse from anatomy class, collected homework and took notes for me.

It appears that nothing is broken and the soreness is a natural healing process. The doctor gave me two prescriptions for pain. ha ha Everyone who KNOWS me knows that while I'm a great nurse, I'm a holistic person, and I rarely take PRN meds. I told my instructor that I'd be selling my pills on the street. Well, you know I can't do that, but I am going to get the prescriptions filled at Giant Eagle Grocery store and collect an additional 40 cents a gallon off on gas with my gas card/prescription rewards program.

Tomorrow I'll be back at clinicals for my next to last clinical day for this quarter (if the school doesn't come up with new calculations for our hours and demand additional time like they did last week). Next week (May 18-20) is midterm week with several big tests before a week's break (May 25-29)! I'm looking forward to a nice quiet week's break.

Take Care on the Journey,
(no matter where you end up!)


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