My husband often tells me that I should go back to school and become a doctor. NO THANKS! I tell him. I have no desire to go back to school for the next decade just to wear a white coat. Nursing on the other hand? Now that is something that I could definitely see myself doing. Wait...that's what I AM doing. On a daily basis. And I LOVE it. I just don't get paid...monetarily that is. I find myself to be a perfectionist, it goes along with the whole nursing thing. Therefore I find myself becoming really frustrated when I visit the local ER and end up doing things myself because the staff is clueless when it comes to a child like Ben. It's not their fault, and I don't hold it against them. They just don't have a lot of experience with medically fragile children. Take the other night for example. We arrived on their doorstep around 10pm. The triage nurse leads us to a room. I lay him on the bed, watching his chest heave in and out while struggling to breathe.
This is where I hold my breath.
I look over at the nurse assigned to us who is leisurely messing around with some wires, trying to figure out which chest leads to use? I snap into action and snap her out of "la-la" land telling her "how 'bout we forget about those leads for a moment and get this child some OXYGEN? And while you're at it, a sat probe would be nice." She stares at me and then grabs a nasal cannula. REALLY? She then proceeds to place the cannula over his nose. This is where I get somewhat annoyed. HE HAS A TRACH! He doesn't breathe through his nose OR mouth. He breathes through the little hole in his neck. I grab the nasal cannula from his face, snip the end off (since there were no trach collars to be found) and attach it to his trach. The doctor finally comes in to see him. We have the same conversation every time.
Doc: what's going on with Ben?
Me: oh, ya know...respiratory distress.
Me: oh, ya know...respiratory distress.
Doc: huh. I see. I'll call Dartmouth.
Me: sounds great!
In the meantime, x-rays, bloodwork and nebulizers are ordered. I groan internally knowing that getting blood from Ben is like trying to squeeze water from a rock. 12 pokes later...he still won't give it up. (and I'm not sure I blame him) The respiratory therapist drops by to give him a nebulizer treatment. It causes Ben's secretions to really start flowing. He starts coughing up some serious green goodness. His airway is becoming obstructed because of it. Meanwhile the therapist is taking her sweet ole' time trying to "unclog" his suction cathetar. This is where I put my child down and take over. I yell for the nurse to "bring me more cathetars", he's not moving air at this point. I grab the tubing from the therapists hands and feel her tugging back. WHAT?!?! I grab harder and open a new cathetar to clear my child's airway. "Get me some saline bullets!" I bark. I squeeze one down his trach to help loosen things up. At this point a "local yokel" ambulance company walks in the door. The medic looks like he's 75 years old and smells like an ash tray. I try not to be judgemental, I can't help it. These are the yahoos that are supossed to transport my child??? They introduce themselves and before they can get another word out of their mouth, I ask them what their plan is if Ben crashes on them. (Now I've rendered them speechless.) I watch them as they watch my child struggle to breathe.
I'm still holding my breath.
They look back at me with wide eyes. "Do you have a vent in case he stops breathing and needs support?" Their answer is no. "Then you are NOT equipped to transport my son," I pipe back. (Wow! Did I just say that?) They agree and head BACK out the door they came in. Ben's getting worse by the minute. The doctor tries to reach DHART to see if they'll fly him. They can't. Darn FOG. Another ambulance company is called. This one has two medics and they don't smell like an ash tray. I inform them that they may have to bag Ben if he decides he's too tired to breathe anymore. Now I've made them nervous. Into the ambulance Ben goes. I kiss him goodbye and tell him to keep breathing. They go LIGHTS the whole way to Dartmouth. I follow. It's the LONGEST 70 minutes of my life. I'm not sure what was worse, not knowing how Ben was faring in the back of the ambulance or staring at the FLASHING LIGHTS the WHOLE way to DHMC. I kept praying I wouldn't have a seizure. It was 3:20am and we finally arrived at the hospital.
Finally...I can breathe.