I’m a young nurse who works in a Pediatric Cardiac ICU. I live in a house with three other roommates who all work hard but I don’t think they have any idea what my days are like. It is refreshing to see 20-somethings act like 20-somethings, burdened only by the chain linked fence that will replace our rustic wooden fence in the back yard… And not by the child that just died today.
I return home from what should have been an easy day at work with a patient who remained in the ICU for some HFNC. . . . Enter an 18 year old mom. This mother has been in the hospital for 5 months with her first born. She is proud of what she has learned and is very comfortable with the equipment on her daughter. She makes comments like “don’t you think I should be a nurse?” I encourage her but in my mind I think about how much she needs to learn about her own daughter first.
She calls me at 1130 am for an update on her daughter. She confesses that she just woke up. I politely laugh and give her an update. Her daughter finally gets to sleep when she arrives with the baby’s father. I tell her she just fell asleep but she goes in and tries to wake her. Talking loudly. Lifting the baby’s arms up. Turning the lights up. Putting a cellphone up to the baby’s ear. “Your daddy is here! Wake up, you haven’t seen him in a while!”
Sure enough the baby wakes up, crying. “Nurse she is awake and I think she needs her diaper changed.” Frustration hidden with a smile I change the diaper. I explain that in an ICU infants need their rest. It is important to their recovery and growth. (Shouldn’t she know this after 5 months? I think to myself) With nothing but attitude she asks why her daughter is naked and not wearing her onesie. I explain about her getting warm with a low grade temp. While on my lunch break she has another nurse help her dress her little princess. Sure enough her daughter overheats, spikes a temp, and now has to be pan cultured. For 2 hours we stick needles into her without any success. Mom stands there telling us we need to stick her in the forehead because that was where they got blood from her before.
Meanwhile, the child is naked again, fever gone. Her temp was most likely environmental since her WBC were trending downward and she had no central lines… chest was closed and healed. We are torturing her child and she continues to tell us what labs we need to draw, how to draw them, what lights are to be dimmed, what the signs of infection are. It is exhausting dealing with this woman. I understand that parents feel helpless and having any sense of control over their child’s care makes them feel better. But this woman needed to be a mom and not a nurse. I am kind to her, although I really just want to call her at 5am when I wake up, put a cell phone to her ear, cover her in blankets and stick 10 needles in her forehead and see how she felt about all of it.
At home my roommates laugh in front of the tv. Talking about things that amuse them. I enter a little high strung wondering about a crock pot that had been cooking since the night before. I am asking questions trying to figure out if it had ever been cooled. I realize their food poisoning was not that big of a deal. Let them laugh about co-workers, eat spoiled food, and be 26 years old. It might rub off on me and relax me.