5.31.2011

The Pistol, The Ninja, The Saint and The Jailbait

Sometimes a patient goes into surgery screaming bloody murder, they know something fishy is up and they are not into it. They come out screaming just as loud except now we’ve really done it. They’re in pain and the last thing they recall is a bunch of strangers holding them down on a gurney in a weird room. We were probably speaking in tongues to them too. They are what we might call “A pistol.” This child is angry, doesn’t like you and is going to let you know. A 1 hour temper tantrum is headed right down that hall and into the quiet little PACU. Usually this patient has had a palate repair. Tongue stitch: Check. IV that needs to stay in over night: Check. Sensitive palate stitching: Check. Sneaky hands of an angry child: check. I usually rotate wrestling this child with the intesivist and other PACU nurse. This is why I have become incredibly buff. This is also why I have hearing loss. The poor child is so upset that I have actually seen a melt-down recur at the drop of a rupee.

Then there’s the patient who you’re terrified of pre-operatively but in love with post-operatively. These are the kids in which anesthesia flips off the crazy switch. I might refer to this patient as “A Ninja.” I see them through the PACU doors being carried back to the OT actively punching the nurse in the face whilst screaming AND simultaneously rotating their head 360 degrees all Exorcist style. For 1 1/2- 2 hours I pace the PACU in anticipation of their arrival. When I see the door to the OT slide open, I break out in a sweat. They get carried down the hall, placed in a recovery gurney and I suddenly notice that their head seems to have made it back into anatomical position quite nicely then realize I’m not being physically assaulted! They wake up a while later, those little eyes flutter open, land on you and finally, you exhale a huge sigh of relief. I scoop them up in my arms and soak in this priceless time between us. It manages to be so much sweeter when you anticipated a devil child and received an angel.  They have, in other words, ninja-d their way into your heart.

A kid who doesn’t even know they’ve had surgery is always mind blowing. This is the one that holds hands with the nurse as they walk back and I know it is going to be smooth sailing. You may hear me call this patient “The Saint.” I see those OT doors open up and my heart skips a beat. Usually these ones sleep off the anesthesia for quite sometime because they’re clearly taking the best nap of their life. Out of nowhere they pop up in their gurney. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. They don’t care about their IV, or their stitched up lip; they’re way more interested in checking out all the other screaming children. I can see them thinking “Chill out dude, you’re totally throwing your chakras out of line.” Then they eye the panee, the water. But wait, is that Tang?! Frutee? I bring them over a cup and feed them with the syringe and they gulp it down. Some even take charge of the syringe and I’m like “Wait, did you just have surgery or is this one of those Halloween make-up ‘look at me I’m all stitched up but not really’ kind of jokes?” They don’t care that their nose is oozing or that there’s a 3.0 silk suture through their tongue, they just want to blow some dang bubbles and take a wheelchair ride. They are all calm all the time.

Lastly, there are the patients (usually in the 18 months-3 year range) who give you a run for your money initially. They come in wailing, maybe kicking you in the yoni, maybe screaming blood directly onto your shirt. Before you know it you’re looking through your backpack to see what you can ditch in order to make room for the 11 kilo baby your about to try to take home. You’re looking out the windows seeing which way is the safest path to the ground so you don’t have to pass their parents in the hall on your way home with your newly abducted adopted child. I refer to this bunch as “Jailbait.” Okay, okay so I won’t be taking home any children without direct permission but seriously I can’t hold/cuddle/love on these kids enough. You know that feeling deep in your chest when you’re holding a child and they nuzzle deeper into you? Your hearts melt together in that moment. Tonight one of these kids coughed, gagged and then threw up a few ounces of bloody vomit onto my shirt and leg. We kept right on cuddling. And that, my friends, is how you know you love what you’re doing.

1 comment:

  1. what a lovely post :) this made me feel all smooshy inside x

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