Monday, September 14, 2009

Surfing the waves of confidence

They sure are waves. Up and down they go. You get a few jobs that go well, and you work self in to a high. Everything around you flies by, all is rosy, you are superman with superpowers, and your patients get better.

Chest pains for example. Mavis has a bit of chest tightness. Sure, can happen at the age of eighty-one. I'm dancing around the scene, flicking tablets in her mouth, squirting aspirin in her throat, The ECG is a diddle to interpret and all the right questions come rolling from my tongue like hot butter would go through a knife :-)

Then, you hit a few jobs on the wrong angle, and you stumble, maybe even tumble. Things don't run so smoothly anymore. You have to think hard about every step you do. You forget things. You work slowly. Some blindingly obvious things pass by your five senses.

Like the other night. Female, gulping for breath, in a nursing home. I see the patient in her bed, not looking too healthy actually. I feel for a carotid (neck) pulse, fearing the worst. It is there, but it is ever so faint. I turn in to grind-click-sand in gearbox mode. Oxygen? Yes, brilliant Idea. Oxygen tubing getting tied in a knot? Bloody hell, this patient needs oxygen. Frantically untying tube. Sticky plastic does not aid this process. Not happy.

My colleague is watching me. And calmly asks me if our patient is breathing.
Hmm, maybe she isn't. Maybe she hasn't been for a while. Maybe I shouldn't bother with the oxygen, maybe she doesn't need it.
We do our checks, and we fill out a 'life extinct' form.

I feel pretty down.