On Being a Nurse
Even before Scarlett died, in the hours before when it wasn't looking like she would make it home with us, I was convinced that I couldn't be a nurse anymore. Watching Scarlett die the way she did was so traumatic. She died in the PICU surrounded by the most amazing nurses and doctors that I ever met. Being a nurse and having your child be in the hospital, then die in the hospital, it split me in two. On one hand I was Scarlett’s Mom, on the other I was Scarlett’s nurse. I was listening to her lung sounds, memorizing her vital signs, diligently recording her I & O’s. I talked the same language as the nurses and doctors, which made it easy at first. I knew exactly what was going on at all times. Speaking the same language became a nightmare when Scarlett was going downhill, because again I knew exactly what was going on. Ben and I were huddled in the corner of her hospital room, while multiple doctors and nurses shouted numbers and orders at each other. Every time someone spoke, the situation was more dire. They called out low blood pressure numbers, high heart rate numbers, disastrously low Spo2 numbers, dropping all the way down to 8%. They called out meds they were giving her, they called out when they were intubating her and when the put an IO in because they couldn't keep her pressure up with the 2 IV’s she had in. I knew what was happening the whole time. I was paralyzed in fear, tears silently running down my cheeks. It felt surreal, like a vivid nightmare.
I remember sitting in the ugly waiting room with the burnt orange and red tile floors, and frog decorations, while Scarlett was being put onto life support, thinking that I could never be a nurse again. I couldn't take a blood pressure without remember how low Scarlett's got, I couldn’t listen to lung sounds without thinking that Scarlett’s lungs were full of blood and fluid. How could I give myself to my patients when I felt like I had died too? Being a nurse, to me is giving myself, my very best self to those who are in need of love and caring. My love and caring had been ripped out of my soul Wednesday January 24th at 3:30pm.
Last Tuesday was my first day back to work as a floor nurse. My second day back to work was yesterday. Something amazing happens when you are meant to do a job that you love, you keep doing it. So I keep doing this work, the work that I was put on this earth to do. The hours are long, people yell, scream in pain and anger, not everyone thanks you, but when you connect to one person, when you can leave your shift knowing you helped to make their day better, it makes it all worth it. I hold my patients hands, I cry with them, I tell them that there is never any judgment coming from me, that I am here to take the best possible care of them, no matter what, these are things Scarlett’s nurses did with Ben and I. It is still hard, don’t get me wrong, but my beautiful coworkers make it a little bit easier, they are family to me, they helped lift me up when I was at my lowest. I don’t know what I would do without them, I don’t know what I would do if I wasn't a nurse. I know that Scarlett is proud of me for continuing on, even when that silent tears falls out of my eye while taking a blood pressure. She is proud of her momma, and that is all I need to keep going.