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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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Nurse Stories: Little Girl. (By Gloria Michelle Trainor, R.N.)
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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A nurse writes about a case that still makes her cry today.

Every time I look at a young child's innocent face, I can't help but think back to the time when we tried to save the life of a little girl who happened to end up in our emergency room.

This particular episode occurred several years back. I had just moved to Tennessee from Abilene, Texas. I had been a full-fledged nurse less than a year (although I had my nursing school behind me; it was less than six months when I got "pinned"). I had not really experienced a gutwrenching tragedy; most of the cases I had worked with so far had been adults who hadn't been too terribly sick.

I was becoming comfortable with my lot in life as a new nurse, and I enjoyed my job. Then came the day where my world would be changed forever.

I had just gotten to work that particular day (it was on a Thursday, in August), when the emergency tones sounded. An ambulance was on its way to the emergency department; they were bringing in a little girl who had suffered a devastating asthma attack after ingesting peanuts at school.

According to the reports, the girl was in rough shape: she was asystole: no pulse, no detectable blood pressure, no respirations. She was completely lifeless; she was near death. The paramedics in the ambulance were working hard to try to revive her; they would be at our back door within minutes.

I heard the "Code: Blue" call go out over the intercom. My supervisor, Louisiana Sandusky, barked at the nurses nearest the ER to be ready to take the girl when she came. It wasn't long before we heard the faint sirens that got louder as the ambulance approached before dying in midwail as it pulled to a screeching halt at our back door.

The one paramedic handed the lifeless little body to me. I didn't know what to do or think. It scared me to see this kid looking so---dead. She looked more like a doll than a living little human; time was of the essence. Her skin felt like porcelain: it was cold to the touch, and the color of dead meat. Her eyes were closed, and her limbs dangled like wet noodles. Her hair was, as I remember, the color of a brand new copper penny; the child appeared to be no more than six years of age.

Instinct took over as I rushed the little one to a nearby resuscitation table. Louisiana Sandusky immediately started breathing into the little girl's mouth and nose, simultaneously pushing on the kid's chest in an effort to get the kid's heart beating again; the other supervisor, Genevieve Voisin, barked orders at the other nurses and medical personnel to get lines going, get the kid hooked up to monitors, anything to will life back into the little kid. The air was tense; it was so tense you could cut it with a knife.

Machines beeped, buzzed, and wailed, thus sending more people into the room. The child on the table was soon surrounded by a sea of doctors and nurses, all working together to try to save her life. The child was unaware of what was going on; she was unconscious. She didn't feel the sticks of needles or tubes being placed into her, she didn't respond when lights were shone into her unseeing eyes, and she didn't move when doctors pinched her arms, legs, stomach, nipples. She remained chillingly still; it was as though we couldn't do anything right in order to bring her back.

We worked on that child for over an hour. It was at four seventeen in the afternoon when Dr. Patel finally pronounced the little girl dead.

That was the last thing I remember before I hit the floor. I was so overcome with emotion I had passed out. The next thing I remember was Louisiana Sandusky kneeling by my side, holding my hand and Genevieve Voisin taking my blood pressure and listening to my heart, concern written on their faces.

I don't know who the little girl was; I had never seen her before; but this was my first "real" case, a case where everything went wrong despite our best efforts, and it affected me in a profound way. I started crying, and ever since, whenever I work in the ER, I dread it. I dread the cases that involve kids who are badly injured or ill because I am afraid that the next case might end up like this one involving a little girl who didn't have to die.

All because the girl ate some peanuts, she died. It was all a tragic mistake, and the little girl had no idea she was allergic. Apparently the allergy came on with no prior warning; it just--happened. There was no explanation for her death, and now her parents are left wondering what could have been done in order to save her life, and they are now without a daughter. It was a horrible time, ane when I go to sleep I still see this child's face in my mind even now.

~Written by Gloria Michelle Trainor, R.N.

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Reviewed by Walt Hardester 6/6/2007
Having spent many an hour in the ER...When something like this happens all the staff goes home and hugs their kids for a long time...

Reviewed by Joyce Bowling 5/13/2007
What a powerful write! Very sad, but a situation that has happened to many. I have a little girl in my classroom who is allergic to peanuts...scares me to death that she will eat something with peanut oil, or peanut butter in it. She is very cautious to be six years old, at Halloween she carefully weeded through her candy giving away any type of candy bar that may have peanuts or peanut butter in it. But with children you never know! I am cautious, she seems to be, but I wonder about hidden ingredients that one wouldn't think about...scary situation as is bee stings and such! Great write, makes one stop and think and count their blessings, while also a great reminder of how quickly our life can be taken...
Joyce Bowling
Reviewed by Jeanette Cooper 5/11/2007
Karen, this is a sad write, but well written. I am an asthmatic and can identify with anyone having a breathing crisis. The problem is that people who've never had asthma doesn't always realize that an asthma attack--untreated quickly--can cause death. I know parents would do anything at all to relieve their asthmatic children in an attack. The problem lies in the fact that they don't always know the warning signs when immediate help is called for.

Your story is a good nudge to parents of asthmatic children to be suspicious if their child seems unusually short of breath or is wheezing. Don't wait---take action.
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 5/11/2007
A moving write!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 5/10/2007
This is an amazing write, thank you for sharing, keep it up and be blessed
God Bless
Reviewed by Felix Perry 5/10/2007
Sad but reality is the nurses and doctors face these heartbreaking scenes daily and it amazes me how they can always find the strength to go on and perhaps help save the next little girl or boy who comes through the hospital doors....Very intense.

Reviewed by d. k 5/10/2007
A superb write! Leaves one absolutely speechless! You have done an amazing job in writing this piece. One feels the pain and sadness so clearly. Great work!

Reviewed by H. Lena Jones 5/10/2007
Kren, The realness of this write is powerful...heart-wrenching...and a tear jerker. Emergency rooms are a challenge. So many sad much pain and suffering right up front. Those working in these surroundings have to be tough inorder to cope. Oh my!

God Bless
Peace and love
Reviewed by Kate Burnside 5/10/2007
This is one of your most compelling writes, Karen... It is tragic and we are willing there to be a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is none, sadly... And such is life sometimes. And most of us are anaesthetised to this in our walks of life most of the time. You highlight yet again what it means to serve the lives and deaths of every member of society as if they are a unique and special person - which, of course, they are. And unique and speical are each and every memmber of the medical teams who give so much of themselves to maintain the survival of others. Bless you for this, as always. The flow and immediacy of this are superb. But so, so painful. And real. Kate xx
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 5/10/2007
Compelling writing takes the reader into the ER and watches the medical team doing everything in their power to beat Death...and cringing when Death wins. Excellently penned, Karen, well done!

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.

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