just finished 3 consecutive long shifts. in previous jobs i'd be complaining about the workhouse and the life sapping hours spent there, particularly when the weather's been so fine. but, i'm one of the luck ones. i actually like my job.
a bleep requesting an urgent ecg. normally everything is 'urgent', but this time the staff mean it. a patient is having extreme difficulty in breathing. the whites of her eyes bugling, she stares wildly at me as i walk through the curtains. iv access is of greater importance and anyway, she's not sitting still enough for a meaningful ecg.
no time for the usual ritual, opening up packets and searching for the best vein. skin cleaned, i look straight at her, unsure if she can tell what's going on, i still explain that i'm about to stick a needle in her arm. she's really gasping for air, shoulders heaving up and down. i pin her arm down on the side of the bed, conscious of how rough this must seem. i look up, the three staff nurses are now joined by the sho. nothing like a bit of pressure.
needle on skin, pushing through dermis, waiting for the back-flash of blood in the barrel. it comes. advance the cannula, withdraw the needle, take bloods at the same time and bung the end. the lady doesn't even seem to notice. her skin is so clammy the dressing wont stick. a bandage quickly applied.
fluid and pain relief flow. oxygen and nebs being blasted into her face. she's still wide eyed. return to the ecg. the bio tabs aren't sticking, again she's too sweaty. nurses help dry her skin, i place the tabs, one on each limb and six across her chest. my hands moving quickly and being careful not to cause a tangle of leads and tubes.
no one is speaking. her heart rate is spiking at 210, breathing still shallow and rapid. her whole body shuddering for air. the screen reading is pointless, there's too much interference, with each gasp the leads pick up limb movement. the nurses try and hold her arms still, pressing the tabs on to her damp, cold arms. i attempt reassure her, "your heart rate's coming down (it was but not significantly), we're just having trouble getting a reading because you're moving so much. but don't worry, it's important you keep breathing..." i can't believe i just said that and with a smile too. fortunately she understands, she gives a little nod. the tension in the cubical is released.
just my small role in the care of one of our more poorly patients. by the end of my shift, she was breathing on her own. not everything is as urgent but it's no less satisfying. i get to go home feeling like i've made a difference.
.....granddad is doing well and making massive improvements with his walking and is now in a rehab unit. he's had a few set backs though, due to a nasty uti. his confusion has been upsetting grandma but hopefully this will pass. my two days down there last week, felt harder than any shift at work.