“You haven’t written any blog posts lately?” Grandma asked me last night. (It warms the cockles of my little heart, the fact that my grandma reads my blog.)
“No,” I sighed. “I don’t have any morals this week.”
My mom and my sister burst into shocked laughter.
I protested, trying to explain what I meant. You see, I’m usually very good at creating morals out of every-day happenings and beating people over the head with them. But this week I’m a little too busy and unromantic to do that. It was all I could do to create a paper on my personal philosophy of nursing for my Nursing Theory class. That paper is submitted, though, my work week and baby shower and Texas trip (alas!) are behind me. It is now my weekend off work. I am still feeling slightly unromantic and moral-less (from a writing view point, friends!), but maybe I don’t need a moral for something different. How would you like to hear about Texas, and my patient that died, and a baby shower I threw?
Last weekend in San Antonio was gorgeous. Christmas in PA is not Christmas in San Antonio. We visited the Alamo—an old Spanish building that fairly reeks of untold, ancient stories. “Do you think there are ghosts in here?” my sister Steph asked quietly as we walked under the high-arched ceiling of the old Spanish mission. I imagined the spirits of those so brutally killed floating around watching the tourists.
One of the soldiers, William Travis, wrote the following, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his honour and that of his country, Victory or death.”
Over Mexican food, my family discussed what one should or shouldn’t die for. “Sometimes it might be harder to just give up and surrender than to die,” my brother-in-law said. “There’s such a thing as dying for a cause, but maybe sometimes the wisest thing to do is just give up and accept defeat.”
That evening we entered a fairyland for a couple hours, when we stepped off a path and found ourselves at the outside theater that borders the River Walk in San Antonio. The Salvation Army band played Christmas carols onstage and jewels of light sparkled from every tree. Colorful glowing boats floated on the river, between the terrace where we sat and the stage.
My nieces and nephew kept the weekend from being too quiet. I sat in the back of the full-size van with them and listened to their stories. One evening Alex went on a walk with my brother Brad at a park. He told me about the racoons and what he said and what Bradley said all the way home. The next day after we got in the van to drive to Austin, Alex asked me, “Did I tell you about the raccoons yesterday?”
I laughed. “Yes, you did.”
“Well, shall I tell you again?” he asked, all excitement.
“Sure,” I smiled, “You can tell me again.”
“Ok! I’m going to start at the very beginning and tell it to the very end this time!” And he launched into the story all over again. He’s such a little charmer.
In Austin, a few of us rented electric scooters, or Birds, and flew around the city. It filled my soul with freedom and exhilaration. I wondered if Austin was surprised to see my sister and I with our skirts flapping in the wind.
BACK TO WORK
My sister and I flew home Monday. I went into work Tuesday for a 3 pm to 3 am shift. It was a terrible shift, and I kept thinking about my weekend in Texas and wanting to burst into tears. (I didn’t.) I was supposed to be on the Pediatric floor originally, but when I got there, they were closing the unit. After a few phone calls back and forth they sent me to Surgical to work as an aide. I went to Surgical and there were already two aides there. I called the scheduler again. “I would like you to go to Medical,” she said. I went up to Medical and clocked in a few minutes late. Four hours later they moved me to Surgical to work as helping hands, and then four more hours later they gave me another nurse’s patient assignment so they could float her to the ICU.
Before she left, though, one of her patients passed out, and we had to call a Rapid Response. Three of us picked up the patient and put him back in bed. By the time the RR team was there he was coming back around.
The other nurse finally gave me report on my patients and left me to do all the charting on the Rapid Response. I monitored the vitals of the patient that had passed out. His blood pressure was unstable and dropping and his labs came back with a high lactic acid (a marker of septic shock). I talked to the hospitalist NP and called the surgeon, but I was already giving him a fluid bolus that had been ordered. His blood pressure came back up, and the surgeon came in to see him and left, telling me to call her if anything changed.
I finally escaped to one of my other patient rooms to hang a blood transfusion that she needed. I was trying to assess my other two patients when an aide came and told me that my patient that had passed out had been ordered a stat CT by the hospitalist. I went into his room to check on him and found that his blood pressure had again dropped exceptionally fast in a short amount of time.
At the advice of a more experienced nurse I called the NP to ask if she wanted me to send the patient to CT when his vitals were so unstable. The NP said that she would come see him.
The NP hung out on the floor with us while we gave the patient another bolus. One of the other nurses stood there and squeezed the bolus into the IV because the IV pump couldn’t give it as fast as it needed given. The patient’s BP had continued to drop but came back up again after the bolus. The nighttime hospitalist doctor that worked with the NP came to see the patient. At their instructions I called the surgeon again, telling her how sick the patient was and that the hospitalist wanted him transferred to the ICU.
The transfer finally went through and the patient left the floor a few minutes before my shift ended. I was relieved to see him go. I was at work until almost 5 am finishing up my paperwork and charting.
After that shift I went home and slept about two hours before dragging myself out of bed to pull together a baby shower I was planning for a lady that needed one at Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Center. I got all my food and gifts together and managed to sit down and drink some coffee before it was time to go.
With the coffee in my system, I had a good time. The lady only spoke Spanish, but the translator was a gem. My mom and two church friends and I watched while she opened the gifts we had brought.
After the woman had opened the one gift, a small baby bath from my friend Lily, the translator translated, “It is marvelous how God works things out! Her husband was just looking at this same thing in Walmart the other day!”
It was a beautiful way to spend the day, actually, following my nightmare night-shift.
MARY, DID YOU KNOW?
Yesterday when I got to work, one of the nurses told me that the patient we transferred had ended up dying.
A few hours later, I was in a room with a patient when I heard one of my favorite Christmas songs playing on the TV. The dead will live again… The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb…
My patient lay in the bed a few feet away, bedbound from multiple strokes, unable to even speak to express himself. One of my patients had just died weeks before Christmas. I tried to understand, thinking possibly there was a moral, but gave it up in the busyness of the moment. Still the song kept playing, and it was strangely comforting.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?