Clinical awakening

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    We all have bad days. We all would rather be some place or doing something else than what we are being required to do that day. Sometimes as luck would have it those bad days turn into unexpected blessings. My experience brought about a new way of thinking. This is the story of my day as a student in a large pediatric emergency center.

    It was a warm fall morning. The alarm clock jarred me from my dreams at 4'oclock. I jump to turn it off so it does not wake my baby who is snoring in her crib. I almost want to pinch my husband in a jealous rage that he is sleeping so peacefully. I sulk off to make a pot of coffee, throw a load of wash on, and scuff off to get in the shower. As the warm water hits my back I am still filled with self-pity, thinking "what the heck have I gotten myself into?" I loathe my situation thinking that I will not be home to relax until 8 that night. I go about the steps of putting on my clinical uniform the stiff , itchy scrub top and scrub bottoms, that seem to be shirking every time I wash it, no way it's me gaining weight!

    The one part of waking up early that is enjoyable is sipping my first taste of hot coffee. It does little to wake me up but it warms my spirit. As I finish my cup of coffee I check my emails just in case there are last minute clinical changes. Thankfully there are none. I gather my clinical books, papers, stethoscope, slap on my watch, and make sure my wild curly hair is pulled back neatly. Looking at the clock it mocks me back into a bad mood announcing it is five am. I jump into my car and begin my hour long drive to the assigned hospital.

    Usually this early in the morning the bridge that takes me into a new city is pretty clear, however this morning it is full of drivers who have been diverted to my bridge due to a gas main break near their bridge. I curse my luck. Now my heart starts to beat fast, I am going to be late. My clinical instructor is going to hang me out to dry. After my trek across the bridge I just have to tell myself late is better than never, "slow down!" I finally get near the hospital, I miss my turn because of the windshield is splatter with rain making it hard to see my turn. I pound the steering wheel because the next turn is a one way street. I am now just in a bad mood. I finally make it to the employee parking lot that is a mile away from the hospital, or so it seems. I make turn after turn to the very top of the parking garage. Students are forbidden to park any place but the top. Add just one more thing for me to be mad at. I turn my engine off and look around. Fear makes my heart skip a beat, I have made it in time but where are all the other students!

    Gathering my backpack I trudge across the dark parking lot. I try to pretend I am not scared but fear has gripped me, horror stories fill my mind. Thanks to my over active imagination I pass on taking the elevator down and high tail it down the stairs. Breaking out my umbrella I step out into a sheet of rain and see the hospital trolley. I make my way to it, as I cross the street still a few yards away the trolley driver closes the door and pulls away. At this point I just know that rest of the day is going to be like the start, just crappy.

    I mosey my way to the hospital repealing the rain with my hot pink umbrella. I try to think happy thoughts. After all I am not late. I walk into the lobby and greet my instructor and two other of my fellow students. I am escorted to the Emergency Center. Because of my grades I was one of only two students picked to spend a day at the Pediatric Emergency Center. I am greeted by a staff of about 15. The morning starts off rather slow, so far we have had two teenagers recovering from hangovers, a toddler with an inflamed throat, and a little newborn with vomiting. The emergency room is slow but not a soul says a thing about it. We really do not need a busy emergency room. Who wants to see children in pain, ill, or just suffering?

    The morning rolls along, we have sent two patients home and one to surgery. Just as we are about to leave for breakfast the radio dispatch announces they are bring in a 9 month old with a closed head injury and the triage nurse starts filling room after room.

    I see moms and dads scared, stress, and on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I have one mother of a tiny 4 month old who has come in with a distended abdomen that is hard as rock just grab me and hang on for dear life. I do the only thing I can think of and hug her back and tell her we are going to do everything we can for her baby. About an hour after the baby has been treated with fluid, pressure removed from his abdomen with an NG tube to suction, and diagnostic test after diagnostic test he starts to act like himself, both his mom and dad are happy that he is starting to act like the baby they have grown to know. He is not well yet and will need surgery for an intestinal obstruction but you can see that just knowing what is wrong the parents have had some weight lifted. We have a young girl come in with a rupture stomach who is rushed off for emergency surgery her parents in blind fear, a baby with chicken pox, a few upper respiratory infections, a young lady with a shunt that is ineffective. Case after case of some of the youngest patients I have ever seen come in and are sent on their way. Some treated and able to go home with a sticker and a smile. Others stabilized and sent upstairs to start a longer road to recovery.

    One thing that gripped me was the resilience of these young patients. One after one these children are entrusted to a total stranger who in a matter of hours or a few minutes becomes part of changing a life. Each child without them knowing it gave me a gift. They helped me see that my bad day pales in comparison to many. Each one of those young people gave me something to be thankful for and showed me that life even when dealing with pain and sorrow will show you something that can bring a smile to your face.
    Last edit by Joe V on Oct 13, '12
    Karbear512, Triatta, Marshalls_mom, and 29 others like this.

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    About gatoraims RN

    I am an LPN going to school to further my education and become and RN.

    gatoraims RN has '1' year(s) of experience. From 'Tampa'; Joined Aug '09; Posts: 205; Likes: 186.

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    15 Comments so far...

  3. 3
    That's a beautiful story.. I know if I go into work with a negative attitude the shift is sometimes impacted by that, like more stress is added to everything because I started my day off like that, but then other days (like yours) a patient brings such a positive feeling to you it makes you think positively. People ask me how I can be a nurse, so much stress and stuff to deal with and I wish I could give them an answer they could understand but unless you've felt that positive feeling from someone you are taking care of its kind of hard. Treasure these moments because there's going to be a day when you ant to rip your hair out and it's those moments that keep you sane lol.
  4. 7
    Forget nursing, you need to write books!
    AheleneLPN, USNurse1, JeninCA, and 4 others like this.
  5. 3
    chicken soup for the soul!
    dbscandy, AheleneLPN, and Elladora like this.
  6. 5
    Well written. Good descriptions of the early morning, your internal state and the ER. You brought the reader in to your world..
    I would have liked to have another paragraph at the end--more description about your internal state and your clinical awakening.
    And yes, keep writing!!!
    AheleneLPN, RNam, Bremac88, and 2 others like this.
  7. 0
    Aww thank! I am glad you liked the story even with typos and grammar errors. I think I ended it too fast but was nervous it was getting too long winded.
  8. 1
    Please continue to write. I was an LPN for a few years and finished my RN in may of this year. I just accepted a position in a Children's Hospital PICU and your story is quite resonant with the way I feel transitioning into pediatric nursing. There's just something so rewarding about it.
    RNam likes this.
  9. 1
    That was an awesome story. Brought me back to nursing school, and the frustrations. But also reminds me why I love being a nurse.
    Thank You
    RNam likes this.
  10. 0
    I loved your story sooo much. I have one question; how did you get into my head? This hits so close to home, I've felt exactly the same way on my way to clinicals. You have an unbelievable way of expressing yourself. I am a few months into my first med-surg job on a hospital floor (only did peds in school). It took a while to get my first nursing job so inside I still feel like a 'new grad'. Have you ever worked in med-surg? If so, would you please, please, PLEASE write about it?!? I love your writing! The way you portray the emotional struggle is spot on. I would buy your book in a heartbeat. Please keep writing - for us nurses who can't articulate what we're feeling. Your style really resonated with me. If this were a book, I would have read the whole thing in one sitting. Thank you for sharing - You ROCK! You should definately be a Nurse/Writer. How many people can do both?
  11. 0
    Kudos!! You told a great story. I see you inspired the previous comment makers. Am retired former RN. You have inspired me. Consider sending queries to nursing journals and to publishing companies, e.g., whoever publishes Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Thank you for your contribution to the nursing profession. It is very lucky to have you as a member.

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