Avoid Kids at ALL Costs! Ch 8

Updated | Published
by Julie Reyes Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience.

In chapter 1, I discussed my reasons for leaving EMS and going into nursing. I wanted to never have to scrape another teenager off of a highway; never scoop a seizing infant away from an abusive parent; never fight for the life of an unbuckled 4 year old in a car accident and lose. I never again wanted to hear the screams of a parent who just realized their world has come to a sudden end as I look down on my bloody hands that tried so hard to win. So, I became a nurse.

How did you find your calling?

Avoid Kids at ALL Costs! Ch 8

As it turns out, my favorite class is pediatrics. I have four kids, and know a little about basic things (age of immunizations, milestones), but I didn't know a LOT. And it turns out, I really do like to read the textbook and learn everything I can about these munchkins - but I am dreading the upcoming clinicals. I don't want to go to the children's hospital, I don't want to see sick kids, I don't want to see their pain or the pain of their parents.

My patient is a newly turned teenager boy with Down's. He lives in the same city where the hospital is, but he is alone most of the time - his family isn't around much, if at all. Even though I have other patients to care for, I spend a lot of time with this one. He has the mental age of a 4 year old, and plenty of mood swings. I fell in love with this boy and to my great surprise, he began to trust me and follow me up and down the halls.

One morning as I was getting report, I hear a squeal - "JUUUUULIEEEEEEE!!" I look up to see him running down the hallway in his 'tidy whitees'! He runs to me and wraps his thin arms around my waist and hugs me while he jumps up and down. I laughed and told him to go to his room and get some clothes on! I promised to come and see him in a few minutes. It just made my day.

Later on, I have to give him an injection. I get him to take his other medicine, but haven't yet told him about the shot. I gently tell him, "OK, we have one more thing to do and then we can go and play." He looked at me with his big brown eyes and starts crying - he remembers - he gets it every day. He doesn't want it, and cries for his mommy, who has not been to see him in 3 weeks. My heart breaks. I ask him, "would you like to sit in my lap and read a book after, or would you like me to rock you and sing you a song?" He chooses both. He takes the shot, crying the entire time - but silently as if he is resigned to it. I put the sharps away, and sit on the bed, pulling him into my lap. He wraps his arms around my neck and cries. He is a little 13 year old, but he is a huge kid to hold in my lap.

However, I am struggling today. All because of a little patient I had been caring for during the past several weeks.

Her name is "Sarah" (not the real name). She was fixing to turn 3 years old. "Sarah" suffered from being a cocaine baby along with several syndromes. Just 2 weeks ago, she tested positive for cocaine. Yes, just 2 weeks ago.

Sarah had a mouth the size of a dime, and her ears were literally on her neck. She had a feeding tube and a tracheostomy. When I would enter into her room, she clung to me. Either she would not let go of my neck or she would not let go of my legs if she were up out of her crib. She would hide in the corner from anyone else who was in the room, especially her foster family. She would just stare blankly at them and would hide behind me if I tried to get her to interact with them. I was very frustrated with them as they showed absolutely NO interest in her AT ALL. They just watched the soap opera on tv.

I know that I can't save the world, and I know that I am not supposed to get too attached to my patients. However - I had a serious conversation with the CPS workers to see if I could take her home and be her foster mother (but I had not been approved as a foster parent). Of course, the case workers were very excited to have me apply and go through the process. I was determined to care for this little girl and give her the best chance in life. I went home and told my husband (didn't even ask) about my plans and he was concerned, but on my side.

I was off for the next two days, busy doing my Care Plans and assignments. I went to bed and turned on the news to catch the weather before I crashed, and I saw "my Sarah's" face on the screen. I sat up in bed frozen. She was sent home with the foster parents and died in their care. The reason given on the news was that she "removed her tracheostomy".

So today is a hard day, because I keep thinking of Sarah, but I know I can't save every patient - but maybe just make someone's life a little brighter, or ease their pain by offering a comforting touch or hug. I set my mind to the task at hand, to making a difference, to understanding what it takes to make a student nurse into a nurse who is compassionate but thinks critically, and has skills that save lives.

Which brings me to where I am now - in the PICU, and it feels like "home". Somehow, I know that I am going to work here one day. I have written a story about my first experience in the PICU, you can read it at this link: Does God Make Mistakes?

In spite of my reasons to never work in EMS again, and to go into nursing to avoid sick or injured kids at all costs, I have found my calling - surrounded by children on all sides. I am home.

My journey begins!

For the rest if the story, see

Go to Nursing School? NEVER!! Ch 1

Culture Shock & Big Girl Panties - Ch 2

Pretzels, Puppies, and Physical Assessment Ch 3

Tales from the Crypt....uh.... I mean Clinicals. Ch 4

Give me a BREAK!! Ch 5

RN: Judge and Jury Ch 6

Virtual Reality Ch 7

Avoid Kids at ALL Costs! Ch 8

The End of the Tunnel...Holy Cow - is that LIGHT?! Ch 9

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

44 Articles   260 Posts

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16 Comment(s)

queenjulie

queenjulie

Specializes in Step-down, cardiac. Has 1 years experience. 160 Posts

"Don't worry, none of this is breaking my HIPAA laws – photos of her are all over the news."

Wowza. That statement was probably meant to be funny, but for any new nurses on here who might be unclear on privacy laws, just because your patient is famous or on the news does not mean you can talk about their medical issues!

caroladybelle, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV. 5,486 Posts

Just because there are pictures on TV does not mean it is legal to discuss your care of them.

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience. 44 Articles; 260 Posts

Exactly - all other information was drastically changed! DRASTICALLY.

traumaRUs

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,155 Posts

@Juiie - I think this is a great article! I used to work in the PICU in Nevada many years ago (>20 years ago) and worked with "near drowning" vent dependent kids. (This was in the days before pediatric long term care - these kids just stayed in the hospital forever). My other experience with peds is 10 years spent in a level one trauma center ER and whew, the crazy, sad and yet amazing kids.

I always felt that we always had to provide almost as much and sometimes even more care to the families.

Julie Reyes

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

Specializes in pediatrics, occupational health. Has 6 years experience. 44 Articles; 260 Posts

Thank you- & I agree- we care for the entire family!

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg. 155 Articles; 5,907 Posts

Peds was my first love with nursing. I had some of the best and the toughest times while working peds. Those little ones can really tug at your heartstrings.

CSorte

CSorte

1 Post

I work for Enhanced Healthy Start, doing home visits with CPS kids. I am so sorry that happened. My job and the job of those like me is to help prevent those tragedies. It can be emotionally wrecking but helping who you can is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rbeck911, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health / EMS. 1 Article; 151 Posts

Man, I am glad somebody likes Peds... I too left EMS to become a nurse. For a lot of the same reasons as you, but also the financial aspect and I am not ashamed to say it. EMT's and Medic's just make way to little for the job they do!

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 20 years experience. 3,619 Posts

I have the greatest respect for those of you that can work in this setting. I couldn't do it. I couldn't be objective or professional with caregivers that are anything but caring. I couldn't provide the level of care an addicted Mom needs and deserves because I know I would go into that situation judging her harshly.

I also know I would place blame where it is not necessarily deserved. How could the doctor discharge this poor baby into their care? How could the social worker allow them to take her home? Where was CPS?? I know that their hands are tied and there probably was no choice legally but to allow the uncaring custodians to resume their care, but I know I would resent every one of them for allowing this to happen.

Edited by kbrn2002
website froze mid post!

LoriDunstan

LoriDunstan

4 Posts

I love pediatrics, I have been a peds nurse for the last 12-years out of 17-years of being a nurse. A LPN for 5-years and RN for 7-years..I also float to the NICU. The hardest to deal with are the abusive cases or the ones you have that feeling and you try your best to get them the help they need. I currently work in a hospital, but I have also done private duty home care pediatrics.

LoriDunstan

LoriDunstan

4 Posts

i was a volunteer EMT in Alaska while going through nursing school. I love it. My husband is a fire fighter/EMT-I. There are days that we know when one of us has had a bad day, and so does our boys. On those days family support is the best, by blood or department.