just need to tell about my day - sort of graphic

  1. so, as you may or may not know, I'm sort of a second semester student - one year accelerated BSN, second quarter of four. today I was floated to the burn unit - I volunteered, as I'm on a not very acute bariatric floor. I had a great preceptor who showed me things, taught me things, was so incredible, talked to me about pt advocacy forever, and taught me not to be afraid of surgeons. I was fine, i was fine, everything was fine...until i got called in to another room to help hold up the legs of a pt during a scrub and dressing change. Her entire lower half had either had grafts taken or put on. she was covered in trails of staples, which the doc, RN, and tech were removing. there were no non-latex gloves in the room - but i was already in there and gowned and masked so of course i had to be all macho and not say i was allergic and just wear them and suck it up. i had her blood all over me, running down my hands and arms. i've never had another person's blood on me before. The grafts were peeling off all over her. my glove stuck to her ankle and pulled off some skin. her pressure went up to 220 over something. They kept bolusing her with fentanyl and ativan, but her pressure stayed up. her whole body was hard with edema, she was intubated and her face was so edematous that her tounge was protruding. she was resisting us. she was unconscious and had been for weeks, but she was fighting me. the whole thing took almost two hours. when i went back to my floor to post conference, everyone was bitter at me that i happened to volunteer first so i got to go off the floor. i felt like i had to be macho about it - you know, i'm tough, i can handle an icu situation, i saw such cool stuff - like fourteen bags hanging for one pt who jumped out his window to escape a fire and ended up with 75% full thickness burns and compression fractures of t12-l4. no one would tell me if he's to make it, he's septic, he has tb. i'm such a cowboy, it was so cool and exciting.

    i've already had nightmares about a chemo infiltration burn we saw in a lecture on monday. i'm scared to go to sleep. i have a dr appt in the am to rule out a gi bleed - probably from stress. i know i can do this, i've always been strong. but i can feel tears at the back of my eyes. i can't forget her blood staining the wrists of my gown.

    thank you for listening.

    WHY DON'T I HAVE ANY CHOCOLATE, DAMMIT???
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   Roy Fokker
    Yikes!

    Someone needs a good cup of hot chocolate, a massage and some hugs!

    That was ONE TOUGH call Eliza.

    GI BLEEDS for being macho at clinicals is a We need to come up with a way to get you destressed!
  4. by   lisamc1RN
    Big Hugs to you, Eliza. That sounds like a very stressful experience. Please let your instructor know that you are having trouble dealing with that experience. She will probably know of a good resource for you.
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    (((((((((((Eliza)))))))))))))

    simply awful day hon.
  6. by   sirI
    This made me tear, elizabells. :icon_hug:
  7. by   DusktilDawn
    Elizabells,
    :icon_hug: :icon_hug: :icon_hug: :icon_hug:

    I think you're holding too much inside. It is OK to let it out. I've ended more than a few shifts with co-workers where we both just hugged & cried. Bear in mind that being strong isn't always about holding back the tears, sometimes it's being brave enough to let them flow.

  8. by   CHATSDALE
    A ROUGH ROUGH DAY...but they won't all be like that...a pat on the back from your friends here
  9. by   Jessy_RN
    Hope you are doing much better, and by the way you are "all macho" :roll
  10. by   DusktilDawn
    Good Morning Elizabells,
  11. by   tencat
    Elizabells, talk to someone (instructor, other students) about the situation. On our first day in clinical one girl was on the oncology floor and was present when a doctor told the patient and family that there was no more hope and they need to contact hospice. As if that wasn't enough, the same nurse she was shadowing had to go into another room and hear the doctor tell the patient that her cancer had spread to her lungs. Both situations were very stressful for the student. At lunch she told us about it, and she was about in tears. I listened to her and told her that it seems to me that it's a normal reaction to the intense pain of other human beings. All of us students are in this together, and we need to help each other out. Hang in there!
  12. by   student4ever
    Quote from tencat
    Elizabells, talk to someone (instructor, other students) about the situation. On our first day in clinical one girl was on the oncology floor and was present when a doctor told the patient and family that there was no more hope and they need to contact hospice. As if that wasn't enough, the same nurse she was shadowing had to go into another room and hear the doctor tell the patient that her cancer had spread to her lungs. Both situations were very stressful for the student. At lunch she told us about it, and she was about in tears. I listened to her and told her that it seems to me that it's a normal reaction to the intense pain of other human beings. All of us students are in this together, and we need to help each other out. Hang in there!
    Totally agree with everything said here already. There is a lot of stress involved with nursing, and the nurses who are precepting you understand/remember what it was like to be in nursing school and seeing these things for the first time. And there are things that never get any easier to deal with, no matter how many times you see them - you just learn better ways of coping with the stress of having to see and experience them. Talk to your instructors and fellow students, and let them know that this experience was hard for you to deal with. No one will criticize you for being honest - and if they do, then they lack the compassion it takes to be a nurse. Keep your chin up, and know that it's okay to cry! And you can always come here to vent!
  13. by   sddlnscp
    Getting it off your chest is such a good thing Eliza! My niece is a MA and they recently had a young girl (21, I believe) diagnosed with inoperable cancer (excuse my horrendous spelling please) and they had to tell her she doesn't have much longer to live. My niece was really upset and used me as someone to bounce this off of - even though I don't know exactly what she was going through because I am just pre-nursing, it helped her. I hope you can get some of the same peace from this thread. What you did was very admirable, burn victims are one area I'm going to have a very hard time with, I think. (((((((((((((HUGS)))))))))))))
  14. by   grimmy
    [font=book antiqua]burns are really tough. this is coming from someone who has loaded the blades for the surgeons who scrape the skin off. it's hot, it's bloody, and stinky. for the life of me, i don't understand why this woman you were with wasn't under anesthesia. i'm sorry you had to go through it, but it is part of being a nurse. burns are some of the worst things you will ever see or deal with firsthand. i agree that you need to have some debriefing, many small talks over a long period of time. write in a journal, or write here. a lot of students think that seeing the gross stuff is cool, but everyone is different. you've had a life-altering experience, and there is no shame in talking it out with people you trust.

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