Thursday, February 4, 2010


I like my job. I might even love my job. I look forward to going to work. I know, you're jealous right? The job itself is pretty interesting, not extremely stressful and I work with a lot of pretty great people. Today I got to experience my job from the other side a little bit and it made me fall that much more in love with the people I work with.

When you think of a hospital staff you might have a preconceived notion of their personalities based on TV dramas, or maybe even previous history. I am not saying that our staff does not have its dramas but there is so much people don't see that I get to witness and it never fails to amaze me. Many might think that because people deal with the line between life and death every day they get hardened to it. Some things you just never get used to.

Some people may see the effects of actions and not understand the reasoning behind it. If you're in the lobby of the ER and you are frustrated with the wait time you need to know we have doctors that believe that a person flat lined deserves to receive CPR for as long as JFK was worked on, that is about 40 minutes for those of you that don't know. You would be surprised about how many can get a rhythm back.

You would expect our long term patients to hold special places in our hearts, but know that the ones that walk through the door are quickly promoted past patient status. When a surgery isn't going according to plan the number of people throughout the hospital that are praying is amazing. Compassion in this building goes far beyond "oh that is sad".

When a code is called some people are expected to respond. Then there are some who aren't that sit with baited breath hoping it is a false alarm and praying just in case it isn't.

When we have patients that pull though and get to go home there is often the urge to call them, or send a card just to say, man I am glad you made it! Hippa stinks sometimes. So we are left just hoping they know we are overjoyed.

You don't see the staff that will break down after a patient leaves with a bad diagnosis, realizes the chemo isn't working or walks out with only a bag of belongings. Just because you don't see them don't think they are not there. They don't need to know the details of your life to want you to return to it.

But our hospital is special in other ways. We have the reputation. We fix the hearts and we do it well. Top 100 in the nation for years and years and that is not a label that is easily earned. Much skill is involved and lets face it, the cardiologists have it.

We have certain heart surgeries that the patients are instantly on our close to the heart list. They come in the night before, they register and we get to try to ease the worry on their face. We look at the person sitting with them equally as scared and we assure them the hands they are in are the best, because they are. As we look at these patients they don't look sick. They walk in, they laugh their nervous laugh they spend a restless night upstairs and go for their bypass bright and early. The way this goes is they are out by noon and in the unit 2-4 days and then they get moved to a step down floor and go live their lives healthy and happy with a fixed heart.

When one of these cases doesn't go well there are many departments that are aware. Recovery is waiting for them, bedboard is waiting to transfer them, the unit has a nurse ready and waiting.

The other night a dear family friend arrived to have this procedure done. My husband and her husband have worked together for years. They come to birthday parties, we went to the same church, they watched my children grow up. When she was checking in I found her and joked that I was going to do her makeup while she was still out of it and make her purdy. She and her husband gushed about my children to the sweet woman taking their info and she responded with stories herself. They came by my office to say goodnight on their way to radiology.

I got to work yesterday expecting her to be settled into the unit, but she was still in surgery. They said she had a lot of stuff done and it was ok. It is reasonable. 7 o'clock. 8 o'clock. She is still there and it isn't looking good. Without talking you can hear the concern in everyones voice. But the doctors have not given up and that is comforting.

Then about 930 we learn she is gone.

It is hard to lose these patients. It is RARE to lose these patients. In the almost 5 years I have been at this hospital I can only think of a few that have not made it. Each time brought sadness

Several things bring comfort on this side. I know how much of the staff was praying for her. I know how many people that never had the honor of meeting this woman were heartbroken in hearing she didn't make it. I saw the staff, their genuine sadness and compassion when the family, in the fog of their own grief didn't look up to see who was touching their arm. I heard the families wishes being fulfilled and saw how people didn't mind in the least to make it happen even if it might have caused them to do extra. Above and beyond is something that is very commonplace here and that is refreshing every time I witness it.

Some might argue that we save as many lives as we do because we are state of the art and I am sure that has a lot to do with it. I am sure the talent and skill of our doctors doesn't hurt. But on nights like tonight I can't help but think that maybe we save so many because they care so much. The doctors didn't give up. They fought long and hard to find a way to bring her back, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt they were there hours longer than they had to be and it is comforting to walk away knowing they did everything they possibly could. Possibly several times over.


Amo said...

I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I remember a time, 16 months ago when you were there for me all night. Thank you.

I love you.

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Bridy said...

I found my eyes welling up with tears when reading your words Carrie. I was recently rushed to the hospital for what turned out to be a full placental abruption at 37 wks (I'm not a smoker or addict). Baby and I were both fine, but didn't realize until after how serious that could have been if it weren't for the swift and knowledgeable actions of the doctors and nurses on staff.
It's nice to hear that they genuinely care about the people they care for and aren't just "doing their job". Gives me all the more faith in our healthcare workers! You are strong people with a lot of emotional investment in your work and not many people are strong enough to do it. Thank you!pl

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