Posted by: loungekitten | February 16, 2009

I Know Life Isn’t Fair, But. . .

Sometimes that sentiment is a little hard to take.  I hardly know how to write about my day at work yesterday.

Usually, at work I am what is known as a “white cloud.”  Whenever a white cloud is at work, it means that usually nothing horrible is going to happen.  Seriously, we have this whole checklist we have to complete when we’re orienting, and a series of tasks we need to complete before they let us go on our own, but we have a limited time to complete it.  When it was almost time for me to finish my orientation, I still had not had the tasks related to a “code”.  One of the people who was orienting me actually hoped we’d get a code one day so we could sign off on my list.*  Of course, nothing happened.

It’s not like I haven’t seen any codes.  But the outcomes of the ones that happen while I am working are usually good.  And we’ve had a few people come in DOA.  But a code has never been “called” while I’ve been at work.  Even this past Friday, we were able to revive a patient who had “gone unresponsive” while being driven to the hospital by a family member.  (This is why we tell people that if you are having chest pains or shortness of breath always call an ambulance.  Always. The average person in this situation will become so panicked and not know what to do:  at best you’d pull over and call 911 and probably not be able to tell them where you are; at worst, you will panic so badly you might cause an accident on the way to the hospital.  Besides, at least in our area, medics go out on ambulance calls when required and can administer medications and treatments that could be life-saving.  Trust me, don’t try to be a hero.)

So today, for the first time in over two years, I had my first patient who was actually declared dead in the ER.  The patient was a (young adult) child of one the nurses that works in our ER.  It was so terrible, I can’t really even put it into words.  All of us were crying as we heard this family’s anguished cries from behind the closed doors.  (In the drafts of this post that live in my brain, I go into more details about the child, and how the child died.  I’ve revised the story into this short version, mostly for reasons of privacy.  One thing I will say, however, is that the death was accidental and not related to drugs or alcohol in any way.)

It was a hard day and I could not wait to leave for the day.  I feel so badly for the nurse to whom this happened, a person who never complains about anything and cares so much about many people.  There really is no way to put a value on an individual’s life, and I suppose the most diplomatic way of saying what I want to say is like this:  we see so many people who value their own lives far less than this person and family valued the life of this child.  People who come in after their third, fourth, or “so many we’ve lost count” accidental and intentional overdoses, we “bring them back” only to see them in a few weeks for another round of the same.  It just doesn’t seem fair that this child and family could not have been given another chance, too.

That’s all I can think or write about for today.

*Hoped for a code so I could sign off on the items on my checklist.  Not actually hoping for someone to get that sick.

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