This is a GI Joe nurse doll.
I find her interesting in a few respects, not the least of which is the fact that she is wearing dog tags.
She isn’t glamourous. In fact she looks rather weary and her hair looks as though it was chopped off herself a la Nurse Colleen McMurphy in China Beach (remember that show)?
Unlike her nurse doll colleague Barbie, she is carrying blood. Barbie never looked like she even saw any body fluids, let alone handled them.
Her cap has seen better days.
I would have put her in khakis – can’t imagine the white would do well in a combat area.
And I don’t think the mini-skirt uniform would be conducive to bending over.
Bottom line: I gotta get me one of these!
Every now and then we medical/nursing professionals find ourselves on the other side of the fence as patients.
I’ve written about what it’s like being the wife of a patient over on Scared to Health (newly designed, by the way), but I don’t think I’ve ever told the story about being the mother of a seizure patient.
The theme of Grand Rounds this week happens to be “Medical Professionals as People”. Well, I’m a nursing professional and I’m a people so that qualifies! Besides, I’m always up for a literary challenge!
And now, the feature presentation….
The hair dryer plug fell out of the socket.
I never would have heard the noise if the hair dryer had not stopped.
A whimpering, unworldly sound.
I followed the sound to the side of my bed in another room.
My 20-month old son was lying on the ground, motionless with a large amount of bubbling saliva running down the right side of his face and making a puddle on the carpet.
He had just been with me in the bathroom as I was drying my hair and I noticed he felt warm. “Better get him some Tylenol as soon as I’m done with my hair, ” I thought. He walked out of the bathroom.
Thirty seconds later the dryer unplugged itself from the wall.
I thought he had vomited so I grabbed him and threw him over my left arm and ran for help. There was no muscle tone in my son’s body whatsoever. Limp doesn’t even begin to describe it. I knew he was gone.
My husband had just come in from the backyard.
“Call 911!” I yelled. “He’s dead!
My husband grabbed the phone without asking questions and called 911.
In the meantime, I threw my son back over my right arm. He seemed weightless. He was the color of ceil blue scrubs and his pupils were fully dilated.
I went numb. You think you won’t remember your BLS in a real crisis. You are wrong.
I went into full BLS mode, but not consciously. My body was moving without any effort. I was not panicked. I was not anything. I was just moving.
Place the patient on the floor in a sniffing position. Check. Listen, look and feel for breathing. Check – and there was none of the above.
Give two rescue breaths, just enough to see the chest rise and fall. Check. Breaths given.
Feel for a pulse at the brachial artery.
Just as I was feeling for the pulse, two things happened simultaneously. The fire department, who was just around the corner showed up at my door.
And my son took a stacked, gasping breath.
I rode in the front seat of the ambulance with the paramedics as we drove Code 2 to the local ER. My husband stayed home with my older daughter and besides, I’m a nurse so I can handle this.
My son was screaming in the back as his clothes were removed and cooling measures initiated.
It was music to my ears.
When we arrived at the ER, I was the untimate professional. I was calm. None of this hysterical parent role for me. I gave a complete detailed report of what I had found, what I had done and the time frame during which the loss of consciousness could have occured. No, I did not actually witness any seizure activity. Yes, his eyes were dilated. Fully.
Tylenol and Motrin needed to be given (Motrin was prescription only at that time).
I am happy to administer it – I’m a nurse and I do this all the time.
Labs needed to be done. No problem, let me help restrain him. I’m a nurse, you see. I do this all the time.
A chest x-ray was ordered. No problem, give me a lead apron and I’ll assist in keeping him in place. I’m a nurse. Do it all the time.
A lumbar puncture was needed.
“Dr. Emergency, I don’t think I can be present for the lumbar puncture. I believe watching may tax my coping skills. Is it okay if I sit in the waiting room?” Yes, I said those exact words. I’m a professional, remember?
What happened next still touches me to this day.
The emergency room physician put his arm around my shoulders, looked me straight in the eye and said, “You know, it’s okay for you to be “mom” now. It’s okay for you to need to be in the waiting room.”
I burst into tears, he gave me a hug and showed me to the waiting area.
I was a horrible mother.
I let my 20-month-old walk out of my sight.
I didn’t stop drying my hair and give him Tylenol when I thought he was a little warm.
Where were my priorities?
I was a horrible mother.
All this went through my mind as I sobbed in the waiting room while the lumbar puncture was in progress.
It wasn’t long before they came to get me. Seems it took four grown adults to hold him down.
My son was so ticked off at me for leaving, when I held out my arms to take him from the nurse he turned his head and wouldn’t come!
At least that’s how I read it.
We were in the emergency department for so long, it was time for the Tylenol and Motrin to be repeated. My son, while not in a full post-ictal state, took a long time to reach his “normal” baseline of behavior. The emergency department doctor was on the phone with our pediatrician, trying to have my son placed in observation for the night secondary to the prolonged alteration in behavior post-seizure.
The pediatrician said no. I heard the conversation from the ER side. Per the ER doc, the pediatrician said that hospitalization was not necessary, that I was an Intensive Care Nurse and I knew what to look for.
I was devastated. I desperately needed to be able to “let go” and have someone else in a position of responsibility in case he seized again. As it was I sat by the crib all night, awake.
The ER doctor kept my son in the department for a full twelve hours – the length of his shift. He figured if my son wasn’t going to be admitted they could observe him as long as he was on duty. The ER doctor said to give Tylenol and Motrin around the clock – even waking my son up to keep the fever from recurring.
I sat sentry duty all night long by that crib – wide awake. And scared to within an inch of my life.
Well, twenty one years later I know the pediatrician was right. My son really did not need to be hospitalized. I needed him to be and that is not the same thing.
In the year following the seizure, he had a normal EEG. We kept the kid sleep deprived for the test and do you think he would go to sleep – not a chance. He had one more seizure for his grandmother up at the farm – scared her to bits and she had raised nine kids!
As far as brain damage is concerned, my son is now a law student at the University of Notre Dame. Then again, there will be some readers who think that alone is indication of brain damage!
I wish I knew then what I know now.
We are professionals, but when illness strikes close to home we need to acknowledge the “regular” person deep inside, and take care of ourselves just as we would take care of anyone else in our position.
After all, medical professionals are people, too.