My night started like every other night at work did. Clock in, look up patients and give out meds for my patient team of seven. I would also read telemetry strips, chart vital signs and do my assessments. But this night was anything but normal.
Around midnight I went to check on my patients. One of them was awake just staring at the TV which was turned off. "Ma'am would you like me to turn on your TV for some distraction, or turn out the lights so you can get some sleep?"
"No" she said, "I see spirits."
Being a new nurse I had no idea what to do with patients who saw things that may or may not be there. So, of course, I play along.
"What do you see? Where are these spirits?"
"I see legs, long ones coming out of the TV. And over in the corner, there is a little boy playing with the blinds."
"Ok ma'am" I say, "Why don't we get settled into bed, and I can get you something to help you sleep."
I leave the room in search of some Ambien or Ativan. Please Lord let this patient have something in the Pyxis! Upon my return to the room with some Ambien, the patient is standing on her bed with an IV pole in her hand, swinging it at things that I cannot see.
Seriously, is this the kind of night I'm going to have?
Ok, strap on the crazy pants and here we go!
I run and grab our tech on the floor, because he is about 6'5", and a weightlifter. He can handle this, right?
My patient kicks the tech and runs out of her room and down the hall, screaming at the top of her lungs, "They're after me, kill them, kill them!!"
Now I am chasing after her. We soon reach her to bring her back to her room. After we got her back into her room and attempted to calm down the other (non-psych) patients on the floor, I called the MD.
"Dr B, can I please get some Ativan, Geodon, or Haldol for patient X? She is seeing things, has kicked our tech, and is running through the unit scaring the other patients."
"No, with a long drawn out o, I don't think she needs it. You can deal with her until 7 p.m. tonight right?"
This was code to the nursing staff that I'm on call tonight and don't really want to put my name on anything. Awesome, right?!
We managed to get her calmed down with the Ambien I had tried to give earlier. She became a resident of our nurse's station for the remainder of the night. What a great initiation to night shift I had!
My patient that night had hospital psychosis. She was fine at home, but when she had to stay overnight at a hospital something in her brain clicked and she became confused and combative. Her son let me in on that little secret the next day stating that she gets this way in places she is not accustomed to.
That night I realized that I love being a nurse. It may be really difficult at times, but it is those difficult patients that need the most compassion.
My patient that night introduced me to the wonderful world of psych. She taught me patience, compassion, and understanding. It wasn't her fault that she was seeing things and her mind was telling her that we were trying to kill her. I learned so much that night and will never forget my first run-in with psychosis.