So, Mondays are always full of fun. The Carpenters sang about "Rainy Days & Mondays, always get me down". Or the Go-Go's, "It's Just Another Manic Monday", or Jimmy Buffet with "Come Monday...It'll be alright, Come Monday, I'll be holding you tight..."
But today is my favorite of all Mondays. This Monday I was fired from a job that I loved and that I was really, really good at. My patients meant everything to me. Well, actually some were trying at times; sorta like a rectal boil that comes and goes (not that I've ever had one of those) but under the same line of thinking that people in the emergency departments just get used to those who use the local ERs as their primary care physicians.
One week ago, a patient came in to the local ER. He is what Steamboat-ers refer to as a "Local". The term somehow escalates you to an imaginary higher plane, and you are somewhat idolized. I knew him from various encounters out of the health care field. He was a funny man. A little hard of hearing, but I would enjoy my conversations with him on rocks, geology, his kids, grandkids ,etc. He was a man who had lived a good long life. He was married to a wonderful woman for 63 years before the Lord took her home. His daughter Tammy and I sat and chatted for a spell, while he was in the ER. We chatted about our own children getting older, and what I recall most fondly about her Dad. His funny anecdotes on life. I could tell by looking at him that he was not long for this world, and sure enough on Monday, May 16th, he made his final journey over to the other side. He was a great man.
That same Monday, the ER intercom sounded a "Code Blue" which means that someone is suffering some sort of cardiac event. I had barely time to put my purse down, and was off and running, gurney in tow, through the hallways, rushing to assist the RN's and other staff in anyway I could. Luckily this elderly woman was not in cardiac crisis - but still required immediate emergency care. We wheeled her back to the ER, and began to work on her. I managed to get an IV in a very tough vein and with the help of all staff present, she stabilized and her family arrived. I knew the family. During the time where we were waiting for immediate family to arrive, the elderly woman with a lifetime of experience whispered/mouthed a small voice of "help me". Myself and another respiratory therapist heard the statement. I stroked the patient's hair, and told her that I was here, not to worry, she was not alone, and I knew she might be scared but we were there to help her. If we can have a moment of dignity in our lives, it truly makes all the difference. I told her daughter that her mom did utter some breathy words and this provided comfort to her.
A few summers ago, I arrived to work a night shift and we had a patient come in with full cardiac arrest. These are never easy patients to care for. CPR is hard. If you have not performed it - take a CPR class. What you perform on a mannequin is nothing compared to the real thing. This man came in, in full code, and we tried every possible life saving measure to bring him back to life. It was not to be. After his death, I was looking through his wallet in an attempt to find some sort of ID which might help us contact a family member. In his wallet I did find a catholic scapular...a small woven piece of cloth, which the eternal heart of our Lord on it. As some Catholics might know, this is a scared piece of religious representation of our faith. I did not know this man. I'd never met him before. But after everyone had left his room, I covered him with a sheet, and placed the rosary, Mother Mary prayer card and scapular on his chest. I quietly said a rosary for him and asked our Lord to take this man to heaven and ease the heartache his family might feel soon.
Then there was the kids who spent hours in our ER, awaiting the fate of their mother who had been caught in the current at one of our local waterfalls, and eventually drowned. She had reached in to save her young son, and was sucked up in the current. He son had a substantial laceration on his head. During that time while I cleaned his wounds, I listened as he and his sister discussed that he was trying to be brave, he was going to be alright. He was concerned about his sister. At one point he turned to me and said...I think my mom is an angel. I saw her....she saved me. Just how do you respond to something like that? I had him and his sister draw some pictures of what they had done that day. Sometimes that is the best therapy you can get from a kid. Sadly, that night his mother was not found. Eventually she would be located downstream, caught under a rock eddy.
Sadly, with all the positive things I did throughout my career, my superiors never took the time to say thank you, or job well done, or you made a difference in some one's life today. I did my job not for recognition but because I truly cared about people. In the long run, I have no regrets.
At this time though - I do have one thing...A PINK SLIP!