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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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A Bad Day In The Emergency Room--Part One
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Sunday, May 19, 2002



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It was utter chaos in the Emergency department--but then, that is usually the norm. The emergency room was filled to capacity--filled with sick or injured people, young and old, men, women, teenagers, and children, even babies.

Nurses and doctors were flitting about, hurridly going in and out of various treatment rooms, their soiled uniforms and messed-up hair all too evident of just how busy it was during this particular day in the emergency room. Looks of concern, irritability, or anger were evident on their work-worn faces; not a smile was to be found on anybody there.

One particular nurse, Louisiana Sandusky, was used to chaos--she was the hospital's "charge nurse" and had spent many hours in the emergency department--, but she was having a particularly bad day. A very short, heavyset woman with snapping black eyes and a headful of black hair, she was one of the nurses who was busily checking on the newest admissions to the hospital, getting their names, medical histories, and the like, from doctors, other nurses, family members of the patients, and, if they were able to communicate, the patients themselves. Her face was lined from a combination of concern for her patients and fatigue.

It didn't help that one of the patients in question happened to be one of her children. This only added to the tension she was currently experiencing.

Suddenly, a brown-haired, moustachioed doctor in his later 30's to early 40's popped his head from a doorway, motioning for Louisiana to come to him. He was smiling broadly, a rare sight in the emergency department.

"She's awake! Your daughter is AWAKE!" he cried. "And she's breathing on her own! We've just taken the respirator tube out!"

"Oh, thank GOD!" Louiaiana breathed.

Following the doctor, Louisiana walked briskly into Treatment Room #3, to a bed that contained the small form of a child, a child she was all too familiar with--for this particular child was her nine-year-old daughter, Ronee'. Ronee' had a long-standing history of bronchial asthma, and she had just suffered from a life-threatening allergic reaction only 30 minutes before. It turned out that she had accidentally lain on a bee that had crawled underneath her leg brace, and the bee, trapped, had stung her as a result. Not long after she had been stung, the child began to suffer from breathing problems, heart palpitations, and other allergic symptoms. Big, pink hives popped out on her face and neck, and she began gasping for air. Her breathing quickly got worse. It turned out that Ronee' needed immediate medical intervention. She was suffering from a clasic anaphylactic shock reaction to the bee sting.

(While in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital, Ronee' 's blood pressure plummeted like a stone, and she went limp as she quit breathing. She was immediately intubated--a tube had been placed into her airway, to aid in her breathing, and a soft, rubber bag called an Ambu bag was connected to the tube; it was manually squeezed by a nurse every few seconds, to deliver oxygen to her still lungs--; and she was then hooked up to a respirator.)

Within a minute after she had first stopped breathing Ronee' was already showing signs of marked improvement: her color had already changed from dusky blue to pink, and she was beginning to fight the respirator tube in her throat. She was becoming more active as the minutes ticked by. Her dark eyes popped open, and she started wriggling against the straps that held her to the gurney, but the one paramedic calmed her down by smiling at her and handing her a soft, light-brown teddy bear. The paramedic had friendly eyes.

Now, Ronee' lay, extubated, in the emergency department, on a table. She had an I.V. line inserted into a vein in her left hand, and E.K.G. (electrocardiograph) leads were taped to her chest. A blanket covered her lower half, which was just as well: the child had complained that she was cold upon awakening. An oxygen mask covered her mouth and nose.


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Reviewed by Susan Gilson 1/22/2007
You have captured reality. I'm an ICU nurse and have witnessed much of what you speak. Your descriptive prose is mesmoric. "Bad days" are common place, but, as you know, they fade when a life is saved - when a patient looks up and smiles at you. Indeed, hospitals are fast paced, but stories like yours, put a human face on those who walk the halls.

This is very well written, my friend, and I salute you!

Hugsss,
Susan
Reviewed by Helen Downey 3/28/2005
Being a registered nurse and working in a big hospital I have lived through some of these experiences...."A Bad Day...". You wrote this excerp so vividly! Thanks for sharing.

((HUGS)) Helen

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