Saturday, September 27, 2008

intensively caring

Today, after throwing up bile, a man asked me to hold his hand.

It was my first day in the intensive care unit. Unlike my first day on med-surg, I was assigned an awesome nurse who really wanted to teach me. She went over everything, the patient's pathology, the meds, and the incredible technology. It was a great learning experience, and it's only beginning. We did a procedure to measure the pressure within his abdomen, infused platelets and red blood cells, and suctioned another patient's endotracheal tube. A very exciting day, and I was only there for three hours.

This afternoon I ran into a friend in my neighborhood, who asked me what was most exciting part of my day. I told her about holding my patient's hand. Here's what happened.

He threw up. I cleaned the tub. He threw up. I cleaned the tub. He threw up. I cleaned the tub.

My patient is a 45 year old man, diagnosed with some bad stuff. As I was standing there rinsing out the tub for the third time, I heard him banging on the bed rail and turned to see him. He was motioning with his hand for me to come over. Shaking, he grabbed my hand and whispered, "Stay here with me." So I planted my feet firmly and held his hand. It was a real manly handshake, ya know, the kind you do before a chest bump. We never got to the chest bump. Always the nursing student, I asked him to squeeze my hand, part of a neurological test. He gave me a good squeeze, and kept on squeezing, like a slow, steady heart beat. I asked him if he was scared. He said he was. I told him it would be alright.
We held hands like that for a good, long five minutes.

Later, when I was leaving my shift, he told me I was a good man, and that I would make a good nurse.

So that's intensive care. I'll be working there for four more weeks, so stay tuned!



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