My name is Cory. I am a mom, a wife, a NaNa, and a critical care nurse that lives in Nashville, TN. I have found my calling in ER/Trauma/ICU. Each day I find myself experiencing life changing events and hope that by reading my posts, you will experience and feel some of what I do. If you read nothing else, please
take time to read "The Hardest Question Ever Asked". It's my very first posting.
And if for some reason you think you see your story here.....you don't. It's not about you or anyone you know. =)
As I got report about a new patient that had just come in I reflected on my life. Here was a 20 year old male on the brink death. I wondered about his family, his mother, his father. I wondered if he was married or had children. I prayed that I would never stand beside a bed and see my children here...........
When visitation opened, a very young, scared, and fragile looking girl walked up to the bedside. Immediately she started sobbing.......
Instinct kicked in and I started to explain the drips which ensured the patients did NOT feel pain, the monitors which were non-invasive and did not CAUSE pain. I explained that the dinging alarms only meant that his heart rate or blood pressure were outside of the limits set on the monitor and didn't necessarily mean that he was in distress or "crashing" as we call it in Trauma. This seemed to make the young girl feel better.
I knew from report that the patient had less than a 30% chance of survival but we'd also seen patients with less than 10% pull through so we continued to be positive and fight for this young man.
In a soft voice, almost a whisper, I heard the young girl say: "I wish we hadn't waited." I thought maybe she was talking to this young man who may have been her brother or her boyfriend, I didn't know. Then she repeated it. "I wish we hadn't waited." I turned to her and asked her what she waited for. As I turned, I immediately noticed that she had on a ring matching the young man's that was on his left hand. She proceeded to tell me that they had gotten married one week ago and they had waited to go on their honeymoon until payday....so they would have plenty of money. They were driving to their honeymoon destination when their accident occured. "We were childhood sweethearts. We always knew we would get married and spend the rest of our lives together. Whenever we went anywhere, I always told him to wear his seatbelt and he would" she told me. I nodded in agreement. "He didn't have his seatbelt on, I fell asleep at the wheel and lost control of the SUV I was driving. He was thrown out of the vehicle. We rolled 7 times and he ended up on the other side of the highway. It's my fault." I heard this story time and again over the next week as we tried relentlessly to save this young man. I thought for sure that the love alone she had for her husband would be enough to keep him alive but despite modern medicine and the most technologically advanced medical center and the country's best doctors, the young man died from his massive head injuries.
It only takes a moment. Never take for granted today what you may not have tomorrow.
So I walk into work one evening and hear my name being discussed between the day and night charge nurses. "She's the only one that has done it." I walked up to inquire why I was being discussed and I was given the very terrifying news. We had gotten two pediatric patients, because the PICU (Pediatric ICU) was completely full. One was 11 and one was 6. They had been in an accident with their mother who was 8 months pregnant and their 9 year old sister who was still in the E.R.
The reason I was chosen...... noone else working that night had pediatric experience. "I don't have critical care PEDIATRIC experience, only normal pediatrics" I thought. Then I said a little prayer and walked to the bedside to get report. The two little girls had just gotten there and were still being admitted. The 11 year old had 2 broken arms and 2 broken legs, internal bleeding and a severe brain injury. The 6 year old little girl in the next bed was brain dead as far as we (trauma team members) could tell. She was bleeding internally and with her closed head injury as bad as it was, there was no time to even worry about broken extremities or anything else. Between the two girls I had 17 drips, pain medication, amnestics, (thank GOD), pressors to keep the blood pressure up, fluids because they were losing them so quickly, blood products, etc. Whew! What a night this was going to be! Again, I said a prayer to be "guided" throughout the night.
A few minutes later, I get a call that the father is coming to the bedside, he has yet to see his girls. He'd been in the E.R. with his other daughter. We introduce ourselves and the father stands at one bedside letting the tears roll off his cheeks. Knowing he had just been told that his wife of 14 years and his unborn son who was expected within weeks had died in the accident, I wasn't sure what to say. I waited for his questions. "Please tell me my girls will make it." I didn't know what to say. I told him that we were doing everything we could do. He was at the bedside of his 11 year old daughter. I proceeded to tell him about her injuries, how severe they were, the treatment we were providing, and that she would most likely survive her injuries. He turned around and went to the bedside of his 6 year old daughter. "The doctors told me there was no way she would survive her injury because she was thrown through the windshied and had a non-survivable head injury. They told me that I needed to take her off of life support" I told the father that I was told the same thing. Then comes the hardest question of my lifetime. "What would you do if it were your child" the father asked me? I thought for a moment and replied........ "do you want me to answer you as a mother, or as a nurse?"
Although I have many stories to share I've been contemplating long and hard about how to start this and figure a brief introduction about me will suffice. I am a single mother with two great kids, a 14 year old daughter and a 19 year old son, both still at home and both kids that make a mother very proud . I have the most wonderful life partner who makes my world complete. He, along with the two kids, two dogs and two cats of course. (We have a Blue Heeler and a Solid White Boxer, the two cats are of the somewhat rare "attitudinal" breed.) With a background in accounting, I ventured into nursing school as a 29 year old mother with two small children. I began with dreams of doing what I had told my father at 6 years old that I would do one day as I was "nursing" him after we had a motorcycle crash. I have been a nurse since 1999 and have been so blessed to have found my calling as a Trauma/ER nurse. I have worked at several different hospitals and was lucky enough to have been a charge nurse as well as a staff nurse in one of the largest Level I Trauma Units in the country for 4 years. I also worked in the Level IV NICU for a year which changed my life. I have had many experiences, good and bad and hope that by sharing my stories, someone else might feel some of what I feel every day .........