Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nurse Butterfingers

Ever had one of those days when everything you touch turns to...fecal matter? Well, today was mine. And of course, to add insult to injury, I was at work for all to see. I dropped pretty much anything I picked up - charts, meds, supplies - name it. Didn't drop any patients, although I came awfully close when this one old gal told me she walked all the time and was perfectly steady on her feet. It wasn't until I got her halfway to the bathroom and she started to slowly collapse in on herself that I realized that the one thing left out of the EMT's report was dementia. There's a hell of a difference between thinking you can walk and actually walking.

My IV percentage today was appalling. Normally I hit at least 90% of the IVs I start - today I was at something like 20%. The fact that other people tried (to help me out) and also had trouble didn't make me feel any better. All day long nothing I did worked the way it was supposed to. Don't even ask about the catheters.

But then, toward the end of the shift, I had a patient who was getting a cardiac med IV that is so potent it can only be given in the ER or the ICU. And all of a sudden I became convinced that I had given her the wrong med. I kept wracking my brain for the generic name and couldn't remember it, so when I looked at the bag that came up from Pharmacy (labeled with the generic name) I thought I had hung the wrong thing. If your entire body can simultaneously have cold chills, break out in a sweat, hyperventilate and suffer massive circulatory collapse - mine did. My future as a Wal-Mart greeter flashed before my eyes.

I've never (knocking wood compulsively) given the wrong drug. I have been extraordinarily lucky in that regard. I know my day will come, but so far my anal tendencies and my check-recheck-check once more mentality have saved me. It is, without question, my worst work fear. The only thing that could have made it worse was if it had been a kid. It wasn't.

It felt like it took forever with my trembling fingers to look up the med to check the generic and brand names, but I finally found it. I had hung the right med after all. Unfortunately my blood pressure was so high I needed to be put on one of my own monitors. I think my brain was playing a little practical joke on me and I didn't appreciate it one bit.

I dropped the book, tripped over the med cart and ran into the door jamb on my way out of the bay, but I didn't care.

It's all about perspective.


Altaglow said...

I'm sure you're glad that this day is over. Let's hope for a better day tomorrow.

Sweet Irene said...

You have such a responsible job. It's no wonder that sometimes you get the shakes and the doubts. It's quite amazing that you keep it all straight and a compliment to you for doing so. I suppose you really need to keep your mind sharp all the time. All the matters of life and death are quite above me. I don't know if I would be that capable. Here's to all those nurses who keep us all healthy and safe. The unsung heroes.

Willowtree said...

"All day long nothing I did worked the way it was supposed to. Don't even ask about the catheters."

So, are you saying you filled some pour bastard full of piss?

Willowtree said...

Oops, that should have been "poor" bastard, I'm guessing the slip was Freudian.

Flowerpot said...

one of those days, huh? Poor thing I hope hyou're feeling better by now...

laurie said...

you have a job that requires perfection. constant, unrelenting perfection. that's an incredible stress, especially over time.

my job requires that, too. but we often remind ourselves that if we make a mistake, the worst we can do is ruin someone's reputtation. not their good health.

you have a very hard job.

Anonymous said...

I have had those days! Your job, it must be extra hard, so much serious responsibility!!! One slip up, and your mind starts playing those tricks and it goes downhill from there. I know your an amazing nurse, chalk it up to a crappy shift and thank God the shift is over. I know I thank God for nurses, having spent so much time in the different hospitals lately with sick kids, they truly are amazing. I think it is one of the hardest, thankless jobs! I'm with Irene, unsung heroes!!

Have a good weekend my friend. Tomorrow is a new day.

Kaycie said...

Bless your heart. I hope you're back to your normal, efficient self the next day you work.

Thalia's Child said...

I suck at starting IVs. Seriously. Fortunately I'm not allowed to start them now that I'm back in BC because it's out of my scope of practice. Small mercies.

And between you and me? I've never successfully inserted a catheter on a woman.

Those are my 2 nursing shames.

I can understand the relief that you must have felt when you found that you'd given the right med. I didn't realize I'd stopped breathing while I was reading.

Corey~living and loving said...

oh my...I have felt what you described. my job doesn't deal with peoples health but in this case it was a huge amount of money....I never want that horrible feeling again.....
I am so glad it turned out okay.

PixelPi said...

I've told you that you're a great nurse any number of times. There are some times when being a little OCD about your job is critical. I agree with others' comments: nurses are not fully appreciated for all they do and the responsibilities they bear.

Also, I loved the lack of noting 'dementia' on the EMT run sheet. ROFL (sorry, I couldn't help it). I could just hear you silently cursing as she got heavier and heavier. I'm sorry. I'm still semi-laughing.

Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett!

Swearing Mother said...

Hormones, that what it is. Once a day starts like that, the only safe thing is to go home.

At least that's what I tell my boss.

Anonymous said...

My god, you are under some pressure in your profession. It must be really hard some days.

I remember my late father-in-law having dimentia, thinking he could walk etc but couldn't get up on his own. It's really sad to see it happen.

Crystal xx

Mya said...

Have you started your diet yet? Maybe it's low blood sugar. I have days when I feel like I'm wearing a pair of invisible boxing gloves -dropping everything, forgetting stuff, double checking everything, then checking again - I tend to agree with Swearing Mother - with me, it's usually hormones. Get some rest and be nice to yourself.
Mya x

Potty Mummy said...

That comment about catheters... made my blood run cold. And as for the IV's - I still bear the scars for the appendicitus experience - thanks for the science info, by the way, glad to hear it wasn't just me imagining the Mars Bars that put the 2 kilos on! But in any case, you came through, RC. Well done!

Kimberly said...

Oh the time I complain about my job? Slap me. Please.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

altaglow - amen, sister.

sweet irene - you really do get used to the responsibility in a way, but sometimes it gets a little out of hand.

willowtree - wouldn't you like to know?

flowerpot - much, much better - thanks.

laurie - it wasn't even a hard day - honest. It was just that I was inept.

Eileen - well, I was pretty happy walking out of there last night, let me tell you.

kaycie - you and me both!

thalia's child - I knew you'd know what I meant by that OH MY GOD feeling. I honestly thought I was going to puke right there. Sickening.

When I started this job the IVs were the thing that scared me the most, since in my old job everyone had central lines so it wasn't an issue. But I've had to learn, since we start so many of them. I'm relieved to say that when I can't get one now it pisses me off more than anything else.

And female catheters? Ugh.Give me a man any time.

corey - I think all jobs have the potential to be really screwed up in some way or another. It really is an awful feeling, isn't it?

pixelpi - I cussed that EMT from head to toe mentally. And he's one of my favorites, too. But it is an important piece of info, no??

swearing mother - I'm with you. Once it starts it's all downhill.

crystal - dementia makes me incredibly sad. I really do not like dealing with dementia patients. It's so hard on everyone.

mya - you probably have something there. We got slammed, so it was almost 4 pm when I had lunch. I was so hungry my hands were shaking. Of course the breakroom was full of candy and all kinds of goodies I was trying not to eat. (And I didn't!)

potty mummy - sounds like you had a very rough time with your appendicitis. You poor thing.

kimberly - but complaining about our jobs is half the fun - isn't it??

Akelamalu said...

We all have days like that Correspondent but in your job it's a lot more serious!

Jo Beaufoix said...

RC, what a nightmare. I felt sick for you. But it's all fine so chill. Have a jaffa cake.