December 31, 2008, 10:56 am

Oh no…

What on earth is going on here?

First of all, I’m pretty sure that not a single curl on the top of her head is real hair.

She looks like a Tribble took up residence on her head, and she is no Nurse Chapel.

How were you supposed to wear a cap on top of that?

Then again, it could be hidden under that hairpiece.

What is tucked under her chin?

I can’t tell if it’s a deflated ambu bag or a sphygmomanometer!


This is a real photo of an actual nurse. It came from Life magazine and the nurse’s name is Nancy Archie, circa 1970. The photographer was Bill Eppridge. Just for fun, I looked to see if there was a nurse by that name licensed in Texas. No results found. She must have retired.


Don’t forget to check out this week’s Grand Rounds, a very unique edition “At the Interface of Evolution and Medicine” hosted at Moneduloides.


Oh no…

That’s what you said.

That was the last thing you said.

After you had told me a joke and

Assured me you were not in pain.

Never knowing you were thisclose to death.

But I knew.

We all knew

And there was nothing I could do to stop it.


Oh no…

That’s what you said as

Everyone rushed to hit their marks on the stage of the drama that is life

And death.

“E.R.” indeed. “The Six-Million Dollar Man.”

“We have the technology. We can make him better, stronger.”

We have the technology.

But you needed time.

And time waits for no man.


Oh no…

That’s what you said as

Your eyes flew open wide and your expression…

Surprise? Shock? Fear? Dread?

I had seen that look before on the face of my grandfather who looked me straight in the eyes

As he went into V-tach.

And died.


Oh no…

That’s what you said.

Before the compressions and the defibrillations and the compressions and the intubation and the compressons and

The convergence of decades worth of medical experience surrounding you and the nurses frantically grabbing the equipment for three physicians at once for the insertion of lines into vessels that were useless

And those infernal compressions.

CPR can seem so violent.

So intrusive.

Without hope.


Oh no…

That’s what you said.

Before you died.

I’ve never felt so helpless in the face of death.

I know there was nothing that could have been done even though everything possible had been done and yet

I can’t shake it off, even after all this time.


Critical stress debriefing.

We don’t have it at my hospital.

Maybe it’s just another term for “mourning”.

Mourning a man I never knew until that night.

Mourning that began

When you said

Oh no….


  • RehabRN

    December 31, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    It’s a shame there is no debriefing. It’s at times like this when you need one…and the only debriefing you have is a blank page.

    And sometimes, that’s not even enough. I will remember the little old lady who died not long after I left my first job forever.

    I still remember getting her ready to transfer, and the look on her face. I didn’t want to believe it, but I think she knew she’d die.

  • Medicblog999

    December 31, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Very thought provoking post! It’s so very easy to get caught up in a resus and forget how violent it can seem. Even more so when we are doing it in a patients house in front of their family.
    All of the best for 2009!!

  • Biffy1

    December 31, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I’m pretty sure those are the old fashioned pressure bags (which lots of us still have) That hair is unbelieveable!! Maybe she came straight from the prom.

  • AlisonH

    December 31, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Oh Kim! I’m sorry.

  • Annemiek

    January 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    How difficult! Same here, no debriefing. Maybe something to work on.

  • ssgreylord

    January 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    your writing is haunting and beautiful. i felt choked up by the end of it. what to do with all of the emotion?

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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