Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What a Day

Every Tuesday is a challenge at the hospital. After a four day break I often find myself struggling to remember everything that seemed like second nature when I left the week before. Each week it takes less and less time to get back up to speed. But today I was thrown into the deep end from the word Go.
First surprise of the day, I was going to be seeing my own patients. Usually I arrive at the hospital, the patients we need to see that day are divided up between the four dietitians and I end up shadowing one dietitian, helping her with her patient load. This morning when I arrived I found out that the patients were going to be divided between the five of us. Not only would I have my own patients to see today, but I would go and see them all by myself. My charts would be signed-off by the registered dietitian in the afternoon, after I had completed my assessments. I knew this day was going to be coming, as I am scheduled to do staff relief the week of and the week after Thanksgiving. But it was quite a shock to find out that this would be happening today. I was responsible and apparently ready to be completely independent and of all the floors they could have given me, I was faced with the Coronary Care Unit (CCU)
The coronary care unit and the intensive care unit are referred to as "The Unit" by hospital staff. The Unit is located behind automatic doors that you must know the code to in order to enter. There's a security guard inside to escort all other guests in and out. It is also where you tend to see the sickest patients. Little did I know that today The Unit would be the location where I would experience my first Code Blue- Medical Emergency Adult. Luckily for me, we had discussed patients coding in debriefing yesterday. A few of my classmates had shared their first experiences, and how much it had impacted them. It got me to thinking that I had never seen a code and I think, in a way, it prepared me for what I saw today.
I saw the code being called, I saw the doctors run in, I saw a previously empty room become packed with medical staff doing everything possible to try to save the patient. I saw CPR, not the fake stuff you see on TV, but actual chest compressions. I saw them shock the patient and sadly, I saw them call the time of death. What felt like hours, actually occurred in only minutes, and I was completely motionless, just watching what was going on. It wasn't until the patient's family came in that the reality of the situation hit and I had to leave the area. Moments like these bring up so many emotions, so many thoughts.

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