This is a meme so sweetly hoisted upon me by Betty. I was supposed to go to my pictures and pick the sixth picture out of the sixth folder. Since my pictures aren't filed that way on my computer, I decided to pick the 6th picture from the sixth month. When I'm all done telling you the story of this photo, I'm supposed to pick 5 people to tag. I hope I know 5 people.
In the early 90s, I worked on a complex nursing unit that was so heavy that instead of calling it by its designated name, 3 East, we called it 3 Beast. I was an ACM-assistant clinical manager, otherwise known as a fool because I took that position for the measly extra dollar an hour. In addition to being in charge 5 days a week, I took a full patient load. We had vasculopaths, renal failure, telemetry, respiratory failure and fresh transplant patients. Talk about your nightmare of a unit, this was it.
We had one physician, Dr. Anal Retentive, who hated the emergency room so he routinely had the sickest of his patients directly admitted to our unit. In this manner, we could hone and utilize emergency room skills without the benefit of emergency room staff and equipment. He was a kidney specialist and it wasn't unusual for those patients to arrive with potassium levels so high, they were nearly incompatible with life. To complete the picture, because of Dr. Anal's silly phobias, it wasn't unusual to have more than one crash cart opened at a time-in different rooms. Somethings gotta give when a patient's potassium level is greater than 7. If that's the case, it'll be the heart that cries uncle. Simultaneous codes are always welcome on units such as this. This too helps hone those ER skills.
One evening, I needed to start a nitroglycerine drip on a patient in hypertensive crisis. He had no IV and no prospects for starting one. In short, he had no veins. This should have been the first warning bell to go off. I called the resident to put in a central venous catheter. He came with his senior resident in order to show this resident his do one. That's how they learn you know: see one, do one, teach one. Between the two of them, they were going to insert a central line in this patient who had no veins. They tried once and bent the guide wire. They tried again. When they asked me to do an arterial blood gas on the blood that was squirting from his neck like a geyser, I knew something was amiss. Remember, he was hypertensive. Of course it would squirt like Old Faithful, but these two docs needed a blood gas to be sure. Sure enough, this was not venous blood, it was arterial and no good for an IV. They tried a third time using the groin. This time, they'd hit the vein but because the patient was a vasculopath, they couldn't advance the catheter. His blood vessels were a twisted nightmare that refused to stay close to anatomical landmarks. They had me call the senior's senior. Now there were 3 residents in there and with a Hail Mary, it was one more time for good luck. Like in the previous attempts, they used the neck and eureka! They hit an artery. Again. This was turning into a nightmare for my patient, for me and for those doctors. I felt bad for the patient, but a lifetime of IV drug abuse can lead to bad outcomes-LIKE NO VEINS. The docs were fatigued and left the last one (in the artery) in so they could take a break. Two hours later, they came back refreshed, pulled the arterial central line and on their fifth try, finally nailed it (I bet they went and read a textbook). I'd spent a total of 5 hours of my 8 hour shift secluded in that patient's room while the rest of my patients took care of themselves.
A week later, I found this Far Side cartoon on T-shirts at the mall. I bought one for each of those docs and never let them live down that night from hell. I still see one of those docs on occasion and he tells me he still has his shirt. Ahhh, I have such fond memories of that unit. Not.
I liked the idea behind this meme. I can't pick just five, so if you're reading this, I pick all of you. I'll know if you read this so consider yourself tagged. You're excused if you've already done this meme or object to memes on religious grounds. In that case, I'll need a note from your spiritual care provider excusing you. I'll be expecting a good story to go with your sixth of six.
In the event you're counting, I'm 20 down with 10 to go for my daily blog post insanity. On the first day of December, I shall rest. I'm almost out of ideas but with Mr. Larger Than Life coming for dinner on Thanksgiving, I should be able to stock up on stories. Thanks Betty for helping me come up with today's post.