I wanted to share this story of a fellow comrade in arms– a nurse working in the trenches that likely, only through her efforts, did a patient not succumb to death.
There is so much of nursing that goes unnoticed. What nurses do every day. The battles we fight on behalf of patients and their families that likely are never known by those we care for.
I also like first person accounts because they allow writers to “live in someone else’s shoes” for a moment and might make writing from that person’s position much more authentic.
Part I will be today and Part II will conclude on Wednesday.
I am so happy to share this story, as this is one of my favorite moments as a nurse.
I typically worked the Baylor shift of 7pm to 7am at one of the local hospitals. Even though the story I am telling you happened about 7 years ago some of the details are still so very fresh in my mind. I have always believed there are no such things as coincidences. And this story truly emphasizes that.
I had arrived to the floor, received my change of shift report and was settling in for the night.
Shortly, thereafter we got a call that a young 29 year old woman was being admitted to the floor. I had no empty beds and my co-worker was a male nurse. This young woman was brought up to the floor with an admitting diagnosis of urinary tract infection and possible respiratory alkalosis.
Immediately, the diagnosis just seemed off to me. When the woman arrived I also noticed she was from India, she felt very uncomfortable with the male nurse so I asked him to switch off with me and I would take the admission. I really didn’t understand why she was being admitted to my floor. We were the IICU, intermediate intensive care unit. We essentially took the overflow from the ICU, with the only exception that we didn’t taker arterial lines. We did everything else, from vents, to trach’s, to PICC lines, and countless drips, and we rarely got anyone under the age of 50.
At first glance the woman really didn’t seem that ill. I was rather confused by her admission to my unit. After a few questions, I returned to enter her information into the computer system. I had barely sat down and the bell was ringing. I got up and headed towards the room. I had never seen anything like it. She was ashen, diaphoretic, and trying to make her way to the bathroom due to nausea. As I reached over to help her up she felt like she was on fire. I told her to sit still. I had just checked her temperature not 15 minutes prior and it had been slightly elevated around 99.8. But this time when I checked it, it was over 103. I was shocked and terrified for this poor woman.
I helped her up to the bathroom and helped her get changed and settled her back into bed. I took a look at all the new orders, returned with some Tylenol for her and began looking at the history. Something in my gut was telling me we were missing something. I read and reread her admission paperwork trying to find a clue. I called the hospitalist on call and related my story. He essentially blew me off and said I needed to contact the pulmonologist. Before I had a chance to call, she was ringing the bell again, and this time she looked even worse. Her body was writhing all over the bed, almost convulsing and she had no control over it. I looked at her and asked a simple question.
“Have you traveled outside of the country in the last few months?”
Her reply was “yes”, she and her daughter had just returned from India 2 weeks prior.
I looked at her, and asked, “How old is your daughter?”
The reply, “She is only 2 years old.”
Hope you’ll join us for Part II on Wednesday to see what this patients mysterious illness is. What might your guess be?
Lisa was born Lise Amanda Forest on November 19, 1966 in Ontario. She has 2 children, and 1 grandchild. She currently, lives in SC. Lisa speaks French and English. She graduated from College and worked as a flight attendant for a Montreal based airline. Lisa is a world traveler, having been to South America, Caribbean, and all over Europe; Lisa has been employed as an RN for the last 18 years. Lisa has moonlighted as a realtor and interior designer. Now she’s a writer and her debut novel Oracle is in editing. You can visit Lisa at her blog www.lisaforest.blogspot.com.