A WOUNDED SOLDIER |
December 28, 2006
A WOUNDED SOLDIER
Name: A Nurse
Posting date: 12/28/06
Stationed in: A Miltary Hospital
I have tried to write this post for days now and haven't been able to even start it. I guess it's partly because of what I need to say. I have decided to take a leave of absence from my job; my last day will be Friday. I will be working for a temp service for nurses, providing additional staffing at area hospitals in various units. It will be a change, and one I hope will help.
As the week has gone on, I find memories of patients and their families coming to mind, and I wanted to share one in particular. We had received a wounded soldier from the OR, and the longer I had him the more I felt that "gut instinct" kicking in. Something just wasn't right. He didn't respond as he should have, didn't talk, just looked at me with this wild, panicked expression on his face. I called one of the anesthesiologists over, and as we talked about what was possibly going on this soldier reached for my hand. I let him hold it -- I'm always letting strange men hold my hand ;-) -- and it seemed to comfort him. Several minutes went by in which we still couldn't get him to talk to us, so we decided to try and reverse some of the medications he had been given, thinking he might be having an adverse reaction. It is so difficult sometimes caring for the wounded, because you don't know if their reactions are physiological or psychological or a combination of the two. Some days, the best you can do is punt and hope it all works out.
Little by little my patient seemed to come around, but still wasn't quite right. There were things I needed to do with his recovery and wound care, but when I tried to disengage my hand from his, he wouldn't let go. No matter how hard I tried, he refused to let go of my hand. No amount of reasoning, comforting or even pleading would convince him to turn me loose. Finally one of the anesthesiologists pried his fingers from mine. As the reversal medications took affect he was able to start speaking. He learned my name and started asking me to come close to him, to give him my hand. He called to me over and over again, saying my name, stretching out to grab my hand, coat, scrubs -- anything within reach, and I had to watch that I wasn't within touching distance. As time went by he became more and more agitated, kept yelling at me to come near the bed, to hold his hand. We (another RN and I) finally took him to the ICU as there was nothing more to do for him in the recovery room, and his yelling was upsetting the other patients. But he did not want to leave the recovery room.
If you can picture it, it was comical to see two nurses rolling this hospital bed down the hallway with the patient yelling, "No, I don't want to go. I want to stay with you. Where are you taking me? I'm not going, do you hear me? I am not going!" We tried hard not to laugh as people in the hallway came to a dead stop, turned around and stared at us. He kept yelling my name and asking me why I was treating him this way. As we rolled him into the ICU he looked at me and asked, "Why are you doing this to me? Why are you dissing me?" He finally gave a huge sigh and then refused to look at me. I gave my report to the ICU nurse and wandered back to the recovery room.
When my shift ended several hours later I stopped by the ICU to check on him, and was told there was no change. I met and talked briefly with his wife, sister and mother. His wife asked me if I was the recovery room nurse, and when I told her I was, she replied, "He's been asking about you, and wanted us to go and find you."
The following day I returned to work. Halfway through the day the same ICU nurse came into the recovery room and said, "You've got to come over, he's back to his baseline." I followed him over and as I walked into my patient's room his wife said to him "Look who's here." He saw me and held out his hand, beckoning me to come closer. I walked to the bedside with a bit of trepidation, afraid that if I put my hand in his I would not get it back! Taking a chance I grasped his hand, and as I did he started to talk. He said, "I knew something was wrong but I didn't know what, and I didn't know how to tell anyone, and then I couldn't tell anyone. You were the only one who seemed to pay attention, who seemed to just know, and so long as you were at my side and I had a hold of your hand, I felt safe." The tears started to well in my eyes, and I told him, "You better stop, you're going to make me cry."
His hand tightened on mine and he said, "You are my angel, you were there for me and I will never forget you." Needless to say at that point I did start to cry, the tears streaming down my face.
Over the weeks and months he kept in touch. Whenever I saw him he had to hold my hand and tell me he was glad I had been there for him. He was discharged from the hospital and headed home, and I did not hear again from him until this past week, almost two years later, when he called me. He told me he had been thinking of me, and his mother had asked him if he had talked with me and if he knew how I was doing. He said he felt he needed to call, so he did. We talked for 30 minutes, and after wishing each other happy holidays and him promising to keep in touch, we said goodbye.
I sat for a long time thinking about him, and about all the others I've cared for. I think I've finally been able to realize that I have helped them, that they do think of me, and while I may not hear from them ever again I did make a difference in their lives.
Someday maybe I will be able to return to helping America's wounded, and I look forward to that day. In the meantime, thank you all again for your words of support and encouragement as well as your prayers. They are so greatly appreciated. To my fellow "bloggers", you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for letting me share with you. Happy Holidays, and my heartfelt wishes for a healthy, happy and safe New Year.