PICU Nightmares

  1. Hey nurse friends! I've been a regular follower for awhile, but this is my first post. I need some feedback from my fellow PICU nurses.
    I've been a nurse for about 4.5 years. I did two years of adult med-surg followed by two years on a specialty peds floor where we took care of surgical, neuro, new onset T1D, ortho and traumas. I've just transferred to PICU (literally 3 weeks ago). I love it and I'm also completely intimidated by everything I don't know but need to learn.
    Almost every night I have worked I've been having nightmares. Last night I dreamed I had my propofol drip going way faster than ordered, I had hung the wrong bag of insulin on a patient and that I had left a syringe full of some narcotic lying on a patients bed. I kept waking up in a panic and had to remind myself none if this actually happened.
    So guys, is this normal???
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   offlabel
    I had a dream once that I walked on to the PICU through one of those hatch doors on a submarine. When I entered all of the patients were on gurneys that were about 15 feet tall and the ventilator tubing was draped down to the ventilators. Everything was so far out of my reach, I couldn't take care of the patients. I went in to anesthesia instead. Not in the dream, in real life.

    Yeah...that's normal.
  4. by   JamiePedsRN
    I'm not exactly sure if this made me feel better, but it made me laugh really hard! So a big thank you for that!!
  5. by   HiddencatBSN
    I got those nightmares all the time as a new grad learning a new specialty. And whenever I switch jobs I have nightmares about the new place too: my "favorite" one is getting distracted on the way to work or coming back from a meal break and being like 3 hours late. I think it's just anxiety: we have a lot of responsibility and our actions carry big consequences and being new, not having the experience and knowledge you need yet is pretty normal.
  6. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    I started my first PICU job 20 years ago next week and I STILL have those dreams! Most of the time I know I'm dreaming, but it doesn't make them any less bothersome. I remember one dream I had (not all that long ago either) that had me questioning my sanity. I was assigned to one of our chronically-critical patients in this dream, a child I'd looked after many times. In my dream I had a committee meeting in the early afternoon and handed off to another nurse to cover my patient while I was gone. I went to my meeting, as I'd done dozens of times before, and at the end of the meeting I just walked to my car and went home. I didn't even realize I hadn't gone back to the unit until, in my dream, I woke up in my own bed many hours later thinking, "OMG, I didn't tell Julie about little Andy's feeds!" I keep my car keys in my work tote so I knew while I was dreaming that I WAS dreaming, but I was still a little shaken when I woke up for real.

    Other dreams feature being late for work (like 6 hours late!) because I couldn't decide which scrubs to wear, going to work in shorts and a t-shirt and not even noticing the strange looks I get, walking onto the unit and not recognizing anybody or anything there, making ridiculous med errors and other silly things. Only rarely do I dream about resuses or horrific events. And oddly, I find those dreams easier to reconcile afterward.

    What you're experiencing is not at all uncommon, nor is it a sign of anything serious. What you're doing is consolidating all your new learning and experiences into your memory banks. Normal. Alarming and uncomfortable but normal.
  7. by   RNNPICU
    I have had PICU nightmares..
    One I was doing CPR on a baby and then just walked away and handed off report.
    Another I had such a vivid dream of changing out the lines and had everything running at twice the rate because "the fellow wanted it going in fast" and to top it off the Dopa was in the A-line (to increase the BP). It was so vivid and so real, the next day at a meeting I had to go and ask the nurse if the lines were all correct.
  8. by   jennylee321
    Most recurring NICU dream is that I'm trying to feed my babies, but things keep preventing me from getting them fed and then I look at the clock and the feed is several hours late. I've also had dreams where I'm trying to get to work but things keep stopping me from getting there, most frequently that I can't find any scrubs. I once dreamt that I had a ventilated baby at home and I was trying to get my sister to help me do CPR but she was really useless at it ahah

    My all time favourite was when I dreamt I was admitting a sick puppy because the hospital had made an exception since they were so sick lol
  9. by   canoehead
    I did orientation to PICU, and had dreams about my cats being sedated and intubated on the infant stretchers. I was assigned to take care of them, but had not the first clue about cat physiology.
  10. by   JamiePedsRN
    Yes!! I'm always dreaming that I accidentally ran something at the wrong rate.
  11. by   JamiePedsRN
    You guys are awesome, these stories are seriously reassuring to me. I feel like I'm losing it. At least I can hold it together while I'm awake. As long as the disasters are all in my dreams I guess I'm okay...
    Thanks, everyone!!
  12. by   PixieRN1
    Quote from JamiePedsRN
    You guys are awesome, these stories are seriously reassuring to me. I feel like I'm losing it. At least I can hold it together while I'm awake. As long as the disasters are all in my dreams I guess I'm okay...
    Thanks, everyone!!
    I had a dream once that I left for work in the PICU (which was an hour from my house) in my scrubs and didn't realize until half way there that I was still wearing my flip flops. I had to turn around and was late to work...

    WAIT!!! That actually DID happen to me...

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