Just before graduating from nursing school I was present during a code. A code, or condition -each facility uses their own terminology- is when a patient begins to change and additional help is needed. A button is pushed, an alarm blares, and a certain frantic energy takes over. A code is an emergency and is always treated as such!
So there I was, in the room, watching the code unfold, and I was proud of myself for understanding the proceedings. Remember, I was still learning everything new. I followed the heart rate. 50, 40, 30.
The poor patient- his heart rate just kept on dropping.
The doctors discussed giving him atropine, which I recognized to be of use in accelerating the heart rate.
Then I looked past the patient into the corner of the room.
There stood his wife. Scared and alone.
I decided to stand next to her and offer my support. Of course, I made sure that she wanted support and we stood there watching the scene unfold.
She wanted to know what was going on.
“His heart rate has slowed,” I said with a sense of calm, “They are giving him a drug to normalize it.” I even went on a limb to suggest that he would be okay. Thank God I was correct.
This experience was monumental in my development as a nurse. I learned to step beyond the physical needs of the patient, looking to the family (who are often ignored) and extending the care to that area as well.
Sometimes making a difference comes from stepping out of our own limitations to offer support to someone who everyone else seems to ignore.
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