Books and their Covers

Help me Lord! Got the news I’m precepting a “baby” nurse.  She’s part of our new-to-practice nurse program – Gateway To Emergency Nursing;  little does she realize she stands at the threshold of the highway to hell!  Her name is Arriddea which I destroy on my first attempt. She timidly corrects me saying, “Air — Rah — Dee — Aah”.  All I can think of is “Air — A — Head — Aah”.

Staring her down, I go into nursing process mode:

Assessment: Blonde, blue eyes, appears 15 years old, shy, scared

Plan: I’m wearing a parachute; her plane’s definitely going down!

Implement: Sink or Swim – I’m throwing her right into the deep end!

Evaluation: She’s never going to make it!

That was five weeks ago and, to my surprise, she’s hanging.  She’s got book smarts but getting her mind connected to her hands is challenging.  I own a piece of this because ER nursing is second nature to me — it’s so hard getting yourself back to basics!  Patience, Patience, Patience — you’re A Patient Nurse right?           

Anyhoo, I thought it was all coming to my predicted doom last Friday night.  Chris, our charge nurse, came to me and gleefully said, “Do I have a winner for you!”  Jackson is a patient well known to our ER.  Shot and paralyzed 10 years ago, he frequently shows up dehydrated, septic and heading towards shock.  Additionally, he is bitter, angry and just down right nasty to everyone in his path.  Arriddea is dead on this one!

The aroma that hits us entering the room is like getting dropped into a Turkish prison sewer pit. It’s so thick that it’s more like eating the air than breathing it.  (It’s been days and I swear I can still smell it!)  To make things worse, we walk to the bedside and we hear a thwack hit the floor.  A throbbing blob falls from a wound on Jackson’s ankle!  As all seasoned ER nurses know, “July’s heat yields maggots meat!”  Like all new ER nurses do, Arriddea bolts from the room.  I turn to Jackson and tell him, “I’m Adam and that’s Chicken Little.  We’ll be taking care of you tonight.”  He chuckles then demands, “Hurry up! This shit hurts!”

Charge Nurse Chris points to the break room where I find Arriddea — she’s blubbering. She says, “I CANNOT doooo this!  I’m going to vomit.  That’s like an animal!”  I grasp Arriddea by both shoulders, look her straight in the eye and launch my “dad” voice.  “You Are Going to DO THIS!  Every time you want to puke, run and/or pass out you’re going to remind yourself that beneath the pus-weeping, maggot-filled, necrotic wounds is a human!  We are his nurses and we will take extraordinary care of him!  GOT IT?  {a frail “yes”}  GOOD!  Get yourself together and come back to the room!”

Arriddea dons every piece of PPE imaginable and brings a disposable stethoscope (I told you she’s smart!) within 10 minutes.  I already have an IV established and round one of morphine on board.  I look at Arriddea and say, “Assess, Plan, Implement, Evaluate — I’m going to get supplies”.  I give her 15 minutes and return to find them in deep discussion about Jackson’s daughter.  She’s Arriddea’s age and making her own way through nursing school.  She helps her father as much as she is able despite Jackson’s admission of not being “the good kind of father”.   The awkward silence that follows is broken by Jackson yelling at me, “I told you that shit hurts”.  I yell back at him, “You’re paralyzed, you can’t even feel me cleaning it”.  He responds, “That shit hurts to look at, let alone be it. You old head Mother F’n nurses think you know it all!”  I’m tweaked but Arriddea starts laughing. Jackson does too. He looks up at her, gives her a wink and says “I like you Kid!”

You know what — So do I!

Author’s note: The timing, names and places are altered to protect those I portray. Readers may recognize or be familiar with my stories. Please do not give away my secrets!!!

3 thoughts on “Books and their Covers

  1. I love it! I love the memories it invokes, good and bad. We worked in one hell of an ER with great co-workers and came out the better for it!

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