January 24, 2009

Call 911! Oh, wait... that's me.

As I sit on an office chair subconsciously turning it in it slightly from side-to-side, my phalanges (fingers) drum the table absentmindedly and I take in everything my instructor is teaching.

"You have a geriatric (elderly) patient who complains of not being able to breathe.
She is breathing at 34 bpm (breaths per minute) and shallow. She has no radial (wrist) pulse and her carotid (artery in the neck) pulse is weak. What oxygen will you administer and using what mask?"

I raise my hand.
Each time I raise my hand I take time to make sure what I'm going to ask makes sense. It does again this time.
"Ma'am, couldn't we just call 9-1-1 and let the professionals take care of the situation?"
She stares at me blankly.
"You ARE the professional."
I remember my hand is still up and pull it back down.
A second later it shoots back up.
This time I've really got it. This makes perfect sense.
"Sergeant, one time my dad ran over his own leg with his truck. See, he'd parked it on a hill and it was a manual truck and he'd forgotten to put the emergency brake on, so when he tried to stop it it ran over his leg."

"What does that have to do with administering oxygen?"

"My dad breathed into a paper bag all the way to the hospital and he made it alright. Maybe the geriatric patient could breathe into a paper bag."

She stared at me.

I don't think that was the answer she was looking for.

So I gave it one more shot.

"Yes?" She was a little bit um...irked at me I think.

"I would administer 15 liters per minute of oxygen through a non-rebreather mask to the patient."
She smiled.
"And what would you do if the patient became unresponsive?"
"I would administer CPR with a pocket mask, one way valve and supplemental oxygen until my patient became a Republican."

In a world where my days are fully occupied cramming my brain with medical terms such as "oropharyngeal" "respiratory arrest" and "man shot in the face during a hunting accident", humor is how I survive this new world of insanely difficult schooling.

To be able to look at someone in my class and call them "glucose zygomatic" and they look at me quizzically before realizing that it means "sweet or sugar cheeks" is my ultimate entertainment.
Day after day I sit, focused and attentive, absorbing material that is WAY smarter than I am.

The military pays me to be in school full time and after I graduate a person with severe chest pain who calls 9-1-1 will have me show up at their door.
I'll be expected to assess the scene and patient, administer whatever emergency care is needed, then transport them safely back to the hospital.
It's enough motivation for me to be...scared spitless. (Commonly referred to as "parotitis")

I now live and breathe a language where "BID" means twice daily, "q" is every and there's blood in just about everything (except hopefully BRP, which means bathroom privileges).

There is no longer any race, because we are all equal, have the ability to go into cardiac arrest (heart stops functioning) and we are all...pink.
Every nail bed, every oral mucosa (inside the lower lip) and every conjunctiva (inside the lower eyelid) transcends all language and cultural barrier.
If any one of those is pale, cyanotic (bluish), flushed (unnaturally red) or jaundiced (yellowyish) then you are unhealthy.

As I agonize over every test question becoming increasingly diaphoretic (the symptom of sweating) I take a deep (good tidal) breath and pause.

I am growing closer every day to becoming a Nurse.
God is incredible.
My frontal lobe (section of the brain responsible for memory) buzzes as I overwork the poor, ignorant fool.
I. Love. Life.

No comments: