Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One of Two

There were two experiences I had that made me really want to start this blog. They impacted me so much--not just my nursing, but me as a person. I wanted to write them where I could remember them. So here's one.
All our patients are different, of course. They all have their own stories, their own personalities, and even their own responses to treatment. However, they all kind of fall into "groups." Elder people whose bodies can't fight another infection, so they go septic; college age overdoses; middle-aged MIs; teenage DKAs; older people who get vascular surgery (and for some reason almost always happen to be frequent drinkers who go into DTs while on our unit...). These are all so sad. I ache for all of them. But they start to blend together.
But in January I had one patient who totally stood out. She was a young girl, late twenties. She had been married 5-6 years and hadn't been able to have kids due to endometriosis. They had tried all kinds of infertility treatment, etc., with no results. Finally, they decided to try in-vitro. Her doctors strongly advised against it. But she wanted so much to have her own child and went ahead with it. After twenty-one very painful weeks of pregnancy, she came in to the ER bleeding. They admitted her for observation. A couple days later, her uterus ruptured. They took her to emergency surgery. She lost her baby and her uterus, and became septic. She came to our ICU on the ventilator and pressors, in an induced coma. I had her two days after. Right as I came on shift, lab called with more lab results--more infections found in her blood. We would have to change out all her IV lines, A-line, CVP, etc. and start a new regimen of antibiotics.
I had only been on my own for three weeks. I should have been terrified. But, for what seemed like the first time, I was so concerned and concentrated on the patient, I didn't have time to think about it. I just went to work, doing all I could.
The next two days were a blur--two of the busiest I've had. And emotional. Every time I told her story to a new doctor on the case or gave report to the new nurses, I cried. I couldn't help it.
But I think the reason I will never forget that patient is because of the feeling in the room. It was so wholesome. I spent a lot of time talking with her sweet, supportive husband. He would bring his IPOD and play hymns and christian music in her ears. He asked questions about her condition, but never questioned the outcome. Faith, I guess is what it was.
I also spent a lot of time talking to her grandma and her aunts (one of which is a housekeeper on our unit). They were everything you could hope for to support a girl who had gone through what she had. They were so supportive--listening and staying by the bedside for hours and hours. Crying, but laughing, too. And lots of praying. And every time I left the room they would say to me, "Thank you, Mija."
When I came home the second night of being her nurse, I thought for the first time about how tired I was and how inadequate I must have been for the job. But it didn't hit me until then. I spent the rest of the day just caught up in the hope the family carried with them.
Maybe this all sounds cheesy. Maybe I interlock emotions, spiritual things, and work too much. But it was a testimony builder to me of the Lord's support for those who are trying. I know the Spirit was there in that room all the time and gave it that wholesome, hopeful feeling. And I know--I knew it the whole time I took care of her--that the Lord knew exactly what she was going through and was going to pull her and her famliy through, as hard as it would be.
It's not often my testimony is built at work. It was in this case. I guess that's why I wanted so much to write about it.

As far as how she did, she stayed in a coma another few days, then was extubated and woke up. Those were the hardest days, according to the other nurses and the family. That was when it sunk in and she began mourning. She left our unit healing very well physically and starting therapy to work through her emotions. Her family was sad, but very hopeful as she began the process.

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