I kind of tossed around what to talk to you all about and the above picture always cracks me up when I see it, so I thought I'd talk to you about my job as a nurse.
I've been a nurse for 23 years! Wow! That number just staggers the hell out of me. When I first began college, I was a journalism major. The job market at the time was pretty tough to get into and I wondered if I would be able to get a job. I was actually talked into becoming a nurse as the job market for nurses was wide open.
My first year of nursing school I was as green as that photo above. During my first clinical experience, we were assigned to do bed baths for the very first time. If we hadn't been assigned a partner, I doubt I would have even made it through!! When my instructor was assigning patients, she went through a list of names and everyone picked someone. Well, everyone except me.
She asked, "Kathleen? Who do you want to bathe today?"
I was paralyzed with fear. Was I actually going to bathe someone? A real live person? Not a plastic dummy! My mind was boggled. Finally, I replied, "Umm, I'll take Margaret."
Apparently, my mind wasn't cooperating with me because she said, "I don't have a Margaret. You must mean Marvin!" And promptly scribbles my name down next to his.
WTF??? Was I just assigned a dude to bathe? Needless to say, My 19 year old self was freaking out!!
My partner was Brenda. I remember her clearly. She was in her 40's and had a southern accent. We bathed her patient first and that went very smoothly. Then we went to my dude's room. He was a 60 something guy with a closed head injury and a tracheostomy ( an airway placed in the neck to allow someone to breathe). But he didn't look like this guy... Oh, no...
Picture this... He was lying flat, eyes staring unseeing but wide open and his tracheostomy was bubbling over with secretions...So saturated they'd laid out a bath towel over his chest to gather the constant stream of snot. Ewwww!!! My instructor was all "Let me suction his trach for you girls, then you can get started on his bath."
I stood several feet away from the bed, frozen in place. My instructor took a small plastic catheter and inserted it into the hole in the dude's neck and the guy sat straight up and turned purple while she sucked out all the mucous from his airway. It was purely a reflexive action on his part since he was a living vegetable because of his brain injury. But it scared the living shit out of me! I about ran from the room!!! If it hadn't been for Brenda, I surely would have.
When I got my care plan back ( a mini report on what we did during clinical) I read over my clinical instructor's comments that she'd penned in red. I'd written that I'd wished she would have explained to me the procedure before she'd done it so I could have been prepared for the patient's reaction. That it had scared me!! Her response, "I noticed!!"
She'd noticed? Then why hadn't she said anything? Needless to say I wasn't too happy. I'd gone home and told my boyfriend that I didn't think nursing was for me. I absolutely couldn't do this! I was in tears.
But I didn't quit. I stuck with it, learning all I could about nursing and I am so glad I did. I have met so many wonderful people over the years. I've cried with, I've laughed with, and I've loved each one. I've eased pain and helped those dying. And I wouldn't change one minute of the last 23 years. Being a nurse has made me the person I am today.
When I decided back in 2005 to get back into writing, it was only natural that I merged my two loves--nursing and writing. This is why I write medical romances. In my books, you'll get true to life medical drama and how we handle gun shot wounds, septic shock patients, post op open heart patients... And about 2 years ago I started flying as a flight nurse in helicopters! Talk about fun! I do have a flight nurse series I want to write someday... The picture below is me after we dropped off a patient and we were getting ready to head back to base. No makeup! With the 110 plus heat of the desert, it would just melt down my face in black smears! LOL
I thought I'd leave you with a scene from the second book of my Dating Series, Dating Impossible available now. Buy link at the end of the snippet.
JJ entered PGH’s bustling emergency room with a new-found confidence. Her morning meditation had done wonders to lift her sagging spirits. Expertly applied makeup and eye drops hid her night’s cry-filled obsession. When she returned home tonight, she’d submit her resume to the other hospitals she’d considered before choosing PGH. The plan helped to alleviate some of the torment she’d experienced since leaving Kazimier.
JJ scanned the bustling computer screens above the main nurses’ station that had all the patients who were already checked in listed by medical record number only. This protected patient confidentiality. Alice sat with her head bent over her keyboard, efficiently pounding out orders on the chart before her. Beside her stood Jake. JJ liked his sunny disposition. She was glad he was working today as he was sure to lift her spirits and distract her from her worrisome thoughts.
“Wow. We’re hopping already,” she said to Jake. She glanced around, saw several others scurrying from one room or the next in their haste to get tasks done for the patients. “Ah, who’s in charge today?”
“Rhonda,” he replied, handing her a fresh chart with a charming smile that lit up his dark brown eyes. “She said when I saw you to send you in to the trauma bay. They’re bringing in a GSW to the chest. I’ve set the room up and the trauma team has been called. Most are already gathered, waiting. ETA five minutes.” He chuckled. “Nothing like starting your twelve-hour shift off with a bang.”
JJ rolled her eyes. “That’s a really bad pun, Jake.” If Rhonda was in charge, that meant no Angie. Relief flooded her. It was usually one or the other. Luck was on her side. JJ’s spirits rose even higher. “How old is the victim?”
He lowered his head covered in short, rich dark brown curls and scrutinized a yellow sticky note. “Twenty-two.”
“Young, but at least it’s not a child,” she said. Working with injured children was emotionally exhausting, especially if they didn’t survive. She wasn’t sure if she could manage that kind of rollercoaster today. JJ set the clipboard on the counter and removed her white doctor’s coat, hanging it on the row of pegs that lined one wall of the nurses’ station. Clip board in hand once more, she turned to head toward the trauma bay then stopped abruptly.
“You coming?” she asked Jake.
“No. I’m handling triage today. Angie’s your nurse. She’s already in there,” he replied.
Angie? All of JJ’s earlier cheeriness burst like a black rain cloud, drenching her morale. Acid burned the back of her throat as her stomach roiled. She was stuck with that bat-shit jealous RN?
The distant sirens of the ambulance roused JJ from her gloominess. She could do this. She was a fucking professional after all. Straightening her shoulders and standing to her full height, she strode with purpose to the trauma bay. Angie was just going to have to fucking get over her bitchy self.
Upon entering the room, JJ found the team was indeed assembled. Employees from each department stood by all dressed in yellow isolation gowns, latex-free gloves, and facemasks with clear visor shields to protect from blood splatter. X-ray techs, phlebots, and nurses stood by expectantly waiting for JJ’s orders. As the only doctor in the room, she would lead.
She spotted Angie off to the side, clipboard in hand. Hatred spewed from the woman’s blue eyes. JJ ignored her and gowned, gloved, and masked. The paramedics slammed through the trauma doors with the victim on the gurney. JJ’s adrenaline coursed through her veins. Angie forgotten, she concentrated on what the EMS team’s field report.
“Twenty-two-year-old male shot in the chest. No breath sounds left upper lobe. BP 86/42. Heart rate 146. Resps 35 per minute…”
On the count of three, the patient was moved from stretcher to hospital gurney. The motion was swift and expertly done, but the patient moaned and shouted cuss words as the jostling caused more pain. “Take it easy! That fucking hurts, man.”
JJ smoothly stepped to the head of the gurney. “Sorry about that, my friend. But there’s no help for it. Everything we do is going to hurt right now. We will give you pain meds as we can, but you’ve lost a lot of blood and your blood pressure is dangerously low. Can you tell me what happened?”
“Nothing, man.” His voice was muffled and a bit tinny through the oxygen face mask he wore. “I was just walking down the street minding my own business,” he said. His tone was defensive mixed with just a bit of smugness that was typical.
JJ rolled her eyes. Pretty much the standard answer she’d expected. The truth was he’d been shot by a store clerk while trying to steal the money from the cash register. “What’s your name?” As she spoke, she listened to his chest, observed the unequal fall with each short rapid breath he struggled to inhale. His pale skin was slick with sweat, and the blood-stained gauze dressing just under his left nipple was peeled up along the corners. She removed it, examined the wound, and fired off rapid orders to the team. “Stat chest, full trauma panel including type and cross for four units packed cells and keep two units ahead. Set up for chest tube insertion and call the cardio-thoracic surgeon on call.”
Everyone scrambled to do her bidding. All except Angie, who stood leaning against the wall with the X-ray viewers, clipboard clasped to her chest. As the head nurse, Angie was supposed to be recording and coordinating JJ’s orders.
“What the fuck, Angie? Get your ass moving. I need that chest tube tray now, not in the next millennium,” JJ said.
At the bite in JJ’s voice, all motion ceased for a fraction of a second. Glances were shared, and the only sound came from the patient himself as he writhed, moaned, and shouted expletives of his own. Angie’s gaze threw fire-sheathed daggers at JJ, but she grudgingly pushed off the wall and did as instructed. The monitor above the gurney screamed and flashed the current vital signs. His blood pressure dropped to 60/29. Heart rate up to 180s. Oxygen saturation now read 85 percent. All activity resumed with renewed vigor.
“Slam in two units of uncrossed matched O negative packed cells,” JJ said reviewing the X-ray film Grant handed her. Hemo/pneumo thorax. Just as she’d suspected. “Okay, people. Let’s drain the blood out of his chest and get him prepped for surgery.”
“Well, Marty,” JJ said, addressing the patient using the name he’d given her moments before. “Here’s the deal. I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” She spoke in a soothing voice, trying to calm his anxiety. “Which do you want first?”
He grimaced. “Just fucking say it, Doc.”
“The bad news first then,” JJ said brightly, giving Ambra the go-ahead nod. “The bullet in your chest has lodged near a major artery. You’re going to need to surgery to remove it and repair the damage. But first I need to place a drain in your chest to evacuate the blood that has pooled in there and that has collapsed your lung. Do you understand?”
“I’m fucked, right? I don’t want to die,” he said, his dark brown eyes were wide with fear.
“Not necessarily,” JJ answered as she changed into a sterile gown and prepared to place the chest tube. “We have a couple of great surgeons that are experts at putting chests damaged like yours back together. Don’t you want to know the good news?” she asked, her voice cheery as she picked up the scalpel from the sterile field of instruments to her side.
Gaze glued to the sharp instrument in her gloved hand, he gulped. “W-w-what?”
“The good news”—JJ pointed to Ambra—“is that my best friend here is an expert respiratory therapist. And Matt there” —she motioned to Matt standing opposite side of the gurney— “Matt is going to sedate your lying, stealing ass, knocking you out while Ambra places a tube into your mouth where the tip goes into your windpipe. So, essentially, we will be breathing for you.”
Marty squirmed on the gurney in an attempt to escape. “You’re fucking crazy! That’s not good news!” His slurred speech and half-hearted effort told JJ the sedatives were beginning to work.
“Sure it is,” JJ replied. “That means, when I use this” —she wiggled the sharp scalpel in her hand— “you won’t feel a thing. Some ER doctors aren’t as generous as I.” She chuckled.
“Now, Marty, lay back and relax. This won’t hurt a bit…”
Dogged by the gorgeous Dr. Avery with his skillful hands, disarming smile, and hot lips, her resolve wavers. For now, she's having fun making his mission to date her down right impossible!
You can buy Dating Impossible on Amazon. The buy link is here: https://www.amazon.com/Dating-Impossible-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00BMHF3B6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Thank you so much for having me here today! This has been so much fun!
About Kathleen Grieve
Full time nurse, amateur cake baker, writer, and zombie obsessed, Kathleen draws a lot from the real-life medical drama she experiences as a RN for her novels. Writing romance is a creative outlet where she can effectively deal with the daily stress and sorrow, adding levity and humor to situations that provide a happily ever after when there isn't one. She has recently discovered the fantastic world of air ambulance after 20+ years of working critical care in the hospital and relishes her role as a flight nurse!
Books & Buy Links:
Dating 911 https://www.amazon.com/Dating-911-Kathleen-Grieve-ebook/dp/B005UQ3KYC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Dating Impossible https://www.amazon.com/Dating-Impossible-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00BMHF3B6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
The Doctor's Deception https://www.amazon.com/Doctors-Deception-Kathleen-Grieve-ebook/dp/B00AGG0U3U/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
AfterDark Online Free Read Available Now~Decadent Medicine
Connect with Kathleen Grieve
on Twitter @KathleenGrieve
on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806364.Kathleen_Grieve
on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/grievekathleen?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Kathleen-GrieveAuthor/251669291518939
on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Grieve/e/B005UP4MP4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0