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I walked into room 15 to introduce myself to my new migraine patient and I found her rocking back and forth on the stretcher. Both of her hands were firmly pressed into her forehead and covering her eyes. The chart says my patient is 17 years old but her tiny frame all curled in a ball made her look 10 as she rocked in pain. An older woman sat in a chair in the corner of the room and looked at me with pleading eyes.
I quietly closed the door and moved to the stretcher. I sat the chart down on an empty chair and softly introduced myself to my patient and her mother.
“Hello (name), I am Bobbi and I will be your nurse today…I promise I will get you feeling better soon.”
“Please help me,” my patient answered without moving her hands from her head. I asked her to rate her pain on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst pain. She whispers “9”. I asked her an acceptable level of pain and she whispers “not a 9.”
Her mother informs me that my patient has a 4 year history of migraines since suffering a major trauma…she mouths what the trauma was to me with a look of great distress. Read more…
Her little blue eyes darted from her mother to me repeatedly as tears built up and dropped onto her cheeks. I smiled at her and set my equipment down on the counter. Her little chin quivered with fear as she struggled to compose herself. Her mother quickly rushed to her side on the stretcher and held her tiny body close as she explained, “I’m sorry honey but we have to do this.”
I sat on the stool near the counter, a few feet away from the stretcher, waiting for this little girl’s mother to finish consoling her child. I was well aware of the fact that this little one knew all too well how painful things were about to get and she was trying so hard to be brave. (2 months prior to this date this child came in and had to have a large MRSA boil lanced and the IV didn’t go so well. She was drawing on the only experience she had and FEAR was very palpable…)
“Do you have to do the IV?” she pleaded with her eyes for me to say NO.
“I’m sorry honey, but yes, I do have to put in an IV…BUT I’ve been doing this for 23 years and I promise you I will do it quickly!”
“The other nurse last time didn’t get the IV and someone else had to do it…it hurt as bad as when my brother hit me in the head with his body on the swing set and knocked me over.”
I tried not to laugh but she was being so cute! Read more…
Something was said to me on Christmas that has left me pondering just why being a nurse is so wonderful. The comment was, “She is such a smart girl. She shouldn’t be in the nursing program. She should be a doctor.”
Well…Hmmmmmmmm. I admire the intelligence of some very fine doctors I’ve worked with over the last 23 years and this posting is in NO way a slam to any of them. The person speaking holds himself in high regard in his own profession and I don’t think he even realized what he was saying or how it sounded to a NURSE!
I’m not going to rant about how smart nurses have to be because we all know how smart nurses are. We nurses know that on many an occasion we save the patient from the doctor and we save the doctor from him/herself! I’m not going to go into all the technical things we need to know and all the skills we have to perform on a daily basis. What I want to talk about is the heart of a nurse…what makes a nurse isn’t always their brain. Though of course that helps. It’s their heart. Nurses want to be nurses because of the human connection. Read more…
A category 2 abdominal pain patient was brought into room 5 from the waiting room of my ER. She was an early 20-something who happened to be 17 weeks pregnant. She was complaining of diffuse belly pain, fever and nausea that had escalated over 48 hours. I watched the tech wheel her by the nursing station to go into room 5. She was petite in stature, and even smaller in appearance as she hunched forward guarding her stomach with her arms. A very worried-looking older woman accompanied her.
I quickly exited out of my charting on the computer, grabbed her triage information and scanned it. I went to the med room and collected an IV tray, saline, and a Doppler. As I entered the room I quietly laid my equipment on the counter and walked to the stretcher. Worried eyes looked at me from the face of this attractive young woman. She sat on the stretcher in a semi-fowler position with her knees drawn up to her stomach. She held the older woman’s hand and barely changed expression as a tear fell from her left eye.
I outstretched my hand to her as I introduced myself to them both. “My name is Bobbi and I will be your nurse tonight. Read more…
I could hear her crying and screaming in pain as I entered the ER for my evening shift. The door to her room was closed but the bone-chilling cries echoed out beneath the wooden door and filled the airspace of the nursing station. I inquired about her. “She got here almost an hour ago and we cannot seem to get a handle on her pain…” I looked at the board to see her name—I knew her… My heart raced and I felt a lump gather in my throat…I hadn’t seen her for almost 9 years now. My mind sped back to the time that our paths had crossed.
I was doing home health nursing then and she was a teenager with a newly diagnosed sarcoma. I was to care for her while she received treatments. I was in her home several times a week for a several months. We bonded and I cared about her. She knew my daughter. I wanted her to live…I prayed for her day and night. She was tough…strong and determined. She had spirit and spunk far beyond her years…I wanted to take care of her. Her case brought out the best in me, but also that part of me that wanted to take over and do it all. Read more…
I went to room 13 to check on the patient I had just received report on… the ER was CRAZY but for some reason I felt the need to check on him first. Late teens, sick for 3 weeks with diarrhea, waiting on a stool sample (all other labs were back and relatively normal), loss of 20 pounds… I found him asleep on his left side with his left arm outstretched to expose the 18 gauge needle in the anticube with IV tubing attached to NS running at 400/hr (second liter). He was a handsome boy but pale and thin with dark hair all messed up, skin was dry and monitor showed a normal sinus with a rate of 96. His oxygen sat was normal at 99, blood pressure also normal at 120/76. The room was empty except for him of course and a purse…pink with brown trim (I’m assuming not his).
History was that he had been experiencing diarrhea several times (5-8) a day for 3 weeks, no fever and no vomiting. Pt. does however have pain in his lower abdominal region that is intermittent but ranges from a 7-8/10 on the pain scale. Pt. had a prior bout of this diarrhea last year around this time. Read more…
She came to the ER for complaints of dizziness, intermittent nausea and fatigue x 5 days. She denied vomiting, diarrhea or pain. She told me that she is never sick and that this is “really bothering me because I play field hockey and I have to be able to practice…preseason.”
Her skin was warm, dry and pink and her eyes were bright. Pretty girl…I evaluated her in the routine way…heart sounds, lung sounds, and vitals. I put her on the monitor after doing posturals and then had one of our techs do an EKG. This patient’s mother was glued to her side, so I asked her to leave the room for a few minutes of what I assured her were just routine questions we ask every teenager. Her mother reluctantly left the room. I sat on the stool to the left of the stretcher and asked the routine questions regarding drugs, alcohol, abuse and sexual history. Patient has a new boyfriend and yes they had sex, “but only once and with protection.” I collected a urine sample and left the room after I let her mother back in.
An hour and a half later after all test results were back, the only thing that was “wrong” with my little 17 year-old girl was that she was pregnant. Read more…
I went to retrieve the 13 year old patient from the busy ER waiting room. I took her chart and looked around the waiting area. Amongst the noisy crowd; I saw a young girl, head in hands, lying in her mother’s lap. I called her name, watching to see if this was the young girl with the complaint of a migraine headache. Sure enough she briefly lifted her head, grimaced and then closed her eyes.
I got her a wheelchair and brought her and her mother to room 14. “I can’t talk right now,” she cried as she tried to lie down. I assisted her to lie on the stretcher, covered her with a warm blanket, put a cold washcloth on her forehead and turned off the lights. Mom and I softly whispered.
“Does she normally get headaches?” I inquired.
“This has been going on for a year now, we have been to her pediatrician several times and we see a specialist next week. “
“Do you see a pattern at all?”
“The first headache she got was 3 days before she started her period and they seem to come every month just before she starts…” mom replied.
I nodded my head in recognition of awareness and then asked her if anything made the pain better or worse. Read more…
Fear has crawled into my heart and its talons are gripping tighter…As I sit on my stool, hands in my lap, I silently scream to God to help me. I know that what this young woman is going to tell me is going to haunt me and I fear it. I’m waiting to hear the horrific details of my patient’s experience prior to running to our ER at 2am, half naked, bleeding and disoriented. I’ve been called in to be her SANE nurse. (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner). When I arrived at the ER I am met by a sheriff who was standing guard outside her room. “She is afraid they will return.”
I knock on the closed door and a scream of “no…no..” echoes from inside. I slowly open the door a crack and tell her, “I’m a nurse…I just want to come in and sit with you.” No reply, so I slowly enter the lit room and sit on the closest stool. She briefly looks at me from her spot on the floor and then a look of pain, fear and sadness distorts her face as a cry racks her body.
She is huddled in the corner of room 5 of my small rural emergency room. Read more…
She kept calling out repeatedly for help, with a loud, shrill, shaky voice. “HELP, HELP, HELP, HELP….” I could not comfort her or reassure her that she was okay, nor could I get her to stop yelling for help. The staff was getting weary and the other patients thought we were killing her…that fragile little 98 year old women with dementia in room 8.
She came to our ER from a nursing home with the complaint of, “she won’t stop yelling for help and this is not her normal behavior.” We worked her up for altered mental status—and none of the tests revealed a reason for her behavior change.
I tried everything to calm her; I dimmed the lights, I sat and held her hand, I turned the TV on and then off, I repositioned her repeatedly and called her
daughter (who was in Florida). The morning rolled on and she kept yelling. The ER traffic flow subsided somewhat and an opportunity arose for me to have 15 uninterrupted moments with this woman. I turned off the lights, closed the door, turned on some music and performed Reiki on her. I started from her head and went to her feet. At first she didn’t appear to even realize I was there, let alone gently laying my hands on her head. Read more…