ROUGH COUPLE OF DAYS |
November 21, 2006
ROUGH COUPLE OF DAYS
Name: A Nurse
Posting date: 11/21/06
Stationed in: A military hospital
This is the third time I have posted here. The two previous times I wrote about the wounded soldiers and marines and the care I have given them. Now I need to be selfish and write about me, as I have had a rough couple of days.
One of my favorite soldiers rolled out of the OR into the recovery room, screaming with anesthesia-induced flashbacks and in pain. I hurried over to his bedside to help the nurse assigned to him. As I approached he saw me, grabbed my hand and screamed for me to help him. Over and over he screamed my name followed by "Please help me" in a most agonized tone I will not soon forget. I had one of the other nurses call anesthesia, retrieve pain medications, and as we worked over and over we crooned to him that he was safe, he was in the hospital, he wasn't in Iraq, he was safe back in the U.S. All without avail, as he continued to scream, in the throes of memories I cannot even begin to fathom. He held my hand so tightly I thought surely every bone in it was crushed, but not once did I let go or try and pull away. Anesthesia arrived and they quickly took him back into the OR to work their magic with pain meds and anti-anxiety meds. I went up to his room after my shift was over to check on him and found him sleeping, with his wife holding his hand, and for that moment he was in peace.
The following day I returned to work, and since it was a weekend we were minimally staffed; myself and another nurse, with me in charge. Weekend days can be quiet or crazy busy, depending on the number of wounded flown in from Germany the night before. This particular day didn't look too bad; only four wounded needing surgery. The other nurse and I were speculating that it might be an easy day, with the patients coming out of the OR quickly and recovering quickly, thus enabling us to go home early. The things we hope for when working weekends!
As I was talking with my coworker the emergency alarm went off. This alarm is pushed by the OR staff when a patient goes into cardiac arrest and they need extra help. I quickly ran from the recovery room into the OR, and as I was passing the pre-op area (where patients wait prior to going into the OR room) I saw two other wounded soldiers on stretchers. They had these looks on their faces, part fear realizing it could be them, part resignation, that once again death tries to steal another. I decided to stay with them until someone from the OR came back, let my coworker know where I was if she needed me, and started chatting with these men. Benign stuff; where are you from, did you grow up there, do you have a family, what's your favorite football team, on and on we talked. When the OR nurse came back I told my new friends I'd see them when they were finished with surgery, and promised them a gourmet breakfast of juice and crackers. They laughed and told me they were looking forward to it.
As our day was coming to an end, one of the anesthesiologists walked in and I asked him what had happened. He explained to me that one of the ICU patients who had been flown in the previous night, critically injured, had tried extremely hard to die on the OR table. He told me they had been able to resuscitate him, he was back in the ICU, and everyone had their fingers crossed. He then looked at me and said, "I ordered him to live, and like the good Marine he is, he followed orders." I wish it were all that easy. I wish they all listened when you ordered them not to die.
Lately, I've been thinking about leaving this job. I even have interviews for other jobs. One night as I cried in the arms of my husband I asked him over and over again, "If I leave who will take care of my soldiers?" When I finally stopped sobbing he tilted my face up to his, kissed me on the forehead and said "Who will take care of you?" For as much as I give these men and women I see the toll it is taking on me, and I realize sometime soon I am going to have a decision to make.