Lisa’s Story: Part 1/2

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.

Welcome, Lisa!

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

Author Question: Car Accident Injuries 2/2

We’re continuing with Amy’s question. Dianna gave her thoughts here. I’m going to give my thoughts from an ER perspective.

Amy asked:

I am putting one of my characters in a pretty major car accident — a rollover in which she lands on a broken window and ends up with a lacerated back full of broken glass, in addition to a broken leg, fractured ribs, etc. I need a scene to take place in the hospital where she is recovering. With those kinds of injuries, what treatments would she be under? More importantly, how exactly would she be laying in the bed? Obviously not on her back. But would she be on her side or stomach? Perhaps that depends on the other injuries she sustains… but the lacerated back is the biggest one I want her to have.

Jordyn says:

The biggest issue here is that she will likely have to lie on her back for a while. Considering her mechanism of injury (MOI)– the big rollover accident. The EMS crew is going to be very concerned that she may have injured her neck or back and she will be put onto a spine board and C-collar. To alleviate the pressure on her back, they may then tilt the whole board to one side but it’s going to cause some pain to lay on that flat board until her x-rays are complete.

Care for lacerations: One, she’ll need x-rays of her chest to look for the glass. She’d likely have this anyway for her MOI which could then reveal the rib fractures. If the lacerations are severe and extensive– she may end up going to the OR so they can be cleaned and stitched up under general but they’d have to be REALLY bad. Otherwise, we irrigate them out with sterile saline. Stitch them up. Antibiotic ointment over top. Make sure she’s up to date on tetanus. She would get a shot if she hadn’t had any in five years. It’s 10 years without injury.

Rib fractures are generally problematic because you don’t want to take a deep breath because of the pain which can lead to pulmonary problems. Lung contusions can actually put you on a ventilator if they are extensive enough. If several ribs are broken in succession– this is actually referred to as a flailed chest which can inhibit the patient’s ability to breathe. So, I’d keep it simple with one or two rib fractures so the character mostly has to deal with the pain issue and not the lung issues.


Amy Drown has a History degree from the Universityof Arizona, and has completed graduate studies in History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. An executive assistant by day, she also moonlights as an award-winning piper and photographer. But her true addiction is writing edgy, inspirational fiction that shares her vision of a world in desperate need of roots—the deep roots of family, friendship and faith. Her roots are in Scotland, England and California, but she currently makes her home in Colorado. Find her on Facebook at

The Secrets Nurses Keep: 2/2

In the November, 2011 issue of Reader’s Digest— there was an article entitled 50 Secrets Nurses Won’t Tell You. I mean, of course, I am going to read this. As a nurse, as an author, and as a blog editor– I’m going to see what it has to say. Please, take some time to check out the full article.

I thought I’d give my thoughts here on whether or not I agree with the trueness of these statements. I’m not sure that’s truly a word– so don’t use it in Scrabble or anything. The items are taken directly from the article– so credit is given to Reader’s Digest for these.

You can read about my first post here.

Item Four: “When a patient is terminally ill, sometimes the doctor won’t order enough pain medication. If the patient is suffering, we’ll sometimes give more than what the doctor said and ask him later to change the order. People will probably howl now that I’ve said it out loud, but you have to take care of your patient.” A longtime nurse in Texas.

Hmmm…. this one is painful– no pun intended. First, let me say that I understand where this nurse is coming from. I’ve been in situations where the patient has needed more pain medication than the physician is willing to order and it is really frustrating because you’re the one whom the patient is staring at, begging for relief.

However, the nurse is right about the howling part. Put simply, this is illegal. A nurse who chooses to do this is operating outside her scope of practice. She would be giving a narcotic without an order. An uber-big no-no. She is at risk for losing her license.

Personally, I would not choose to do this. I’ve never done it nor has it even crossed my mind. What I have done is called the doctor relentlessly and summoned the physician to do a bedside exam so they can SEE exactly what I’m talking about.

Item Five: “Every nurse has had a doctor blame her in front of a patient for something that is not her fault. They’re basically telling the patient, ‘You can’t trust your nurse.'” Theresa Brown, RN.

Sadly true. I’ve had this happen. I spoke a little bit about this in the last post. A nurse would get in a lot of trouble for doing the same of a physician so there is a double standard. All corrective conversation should never be done in front of a patient, at the nurse’s station, etc— only a private room with reasonable discussion.

Item Six: “Never talk to a nurse while she’s getting your medications ready. The more conversation there is, the more potential there is for error.” Linda Bell, RN

True…true…true. In fact, this is becoming part of training videos for fellow staff– to not talk to your co-workers when they are calculating and drawing up meds. It is fine to ask medication questions– in fact, you should. But wait until you have your nurse’s undivided attention.

What do you think of these items?