Tell Me What You See

My kids have been sick all week.  I’ve had two of them puking and the other two have… had trouble at the other end.  But when I got up this morning I felt just fine.  I went to work, had breakfast, did my thing.  All was fine.

Unbeknownst to me, at about 8:00 this morning Katie* called in sick.  She was supposed to work form 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.

At about 9:45 this morning I was still ok.  And at 10:00 I thought I was going to puke.  I didn’t, but it was a close thing.

At 10:30ish I let the charge nurse, Jason, know that I wasn’t feeling well in the hopes that he could find something for me to do that I could do sitting down.  He couldn’t so I kept working.  I was sitting whenever possible and I was moving at about half speed.  But I was still moving so that was ok.  But I was feeling progressively worse.

At 2:00 I got my lunch.  I went and curled up in a chair and slept through the whole thing.

When I woke up and I headed back to the room I had been in the charge nurse, Jason, told me that he knew I wasn’t feeling well and that he was doing all that he could to get me out and hopefully send me home but I’d need to stay for a little while longer.  I thanked him for his efforts, went back to my room and finished up the case we were doing, at which point there wasn’t anything else for me to do immediately.  But I still couldn’t leave.

A little background:  The operating room is staffed 24/7 but the majority of the staff only work from 7am-5pm.  There are usually 6 or 7 techs and 6 or 7 nurses who stay until 7pm and then from 7pm – 11pm there are only two teams and after 11, only one.  In the event that there are more cases going on than we have staff for, beginning at 5:00pm there is someone on call.  In fact there are four people on call.  Any one of them can be called depending on the kind of cases going on but if they’re just “general” OR cases the call schedule goes like this: 1. general call (first call)  2. Liver call (second call) 3. Neuro call 4. Cardio-vascular (CV) call.

Today I was one of the 6 or 7 who was supposed to stay until 7pm so even though I didn’t have to be in a room at 3:00 I had to stick around because the way the day was going they were going to need me to be there at 5:00.  And it was only because Jason, the charge nurse, is a super nice guy and took pity on me that I didn’t have to go in a room at 3:00.  So I sat at the front desk hoping that things would work out so that I wouldn’ have to be there at 5:00 and getting progressively sicker, until about 4:00 when I hit the junkie, I’m so sick I can’t even stand to be in my own skin phase, when it became clear that I was not going to be going anywhere but to an OR at 5:00.  Oh and I was not going to be going anywhere at 7:00 either.

Remember how Katie called in sick?  Well, they couldn’t get anyone to cover her shift which means that the person on call has to cover it.  Pam was the girl on call.   But if Pam’s covering the shift who’s covering her call? Remember our list up there?  It’s liver call.  I was on liver call.  And there were going to be a lot of rooms still going at 7:00.

Realizing that I was stuck my first impulse was to see if I could get someone to cover my call.  I made one call and during the course of that call was reminded that everyone had already been called when they were trying to get the 11-11 shift covered.  I was not going to be successful.  So I went to plan B.  At 4:00, with an hour to go before I was going to have to scrub in I went and found one of my doctor friends and told him of my plight and he administered drugs. (Sometimes working in a hospital is fantastic.)  He gave me some Zofran (pretty heavy duty stuff) for the nausea and and IV to rehydrate me and take away the junkie twitchy feeling.  At that point I looked like I was going to be there until about 9:00 and the doctor assured me that I would be feeling fine soon and that the effects would last at least that long.

So I slept sat for an hour in a quiet room with the magical elixir dripping into my arm and at the end of the hour did I feel better?  NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT.  I still felt absolutely awful.  But there was nothing for it, I pulled out the IV, scrubbed my hands and went to work.  Very, slow quite ineffective work but work just the same.  As I finished the first case the doctor I was working with, who’s also a good friend of mine, commented on how bad I looked (I looked bad enough that that kind of comment was completely acceptable).  He even went and gave Jason a hard time, telling him to get me out of the hospital.

A little more background: I DO NOT TRY TO GO HOME SICK.  EVER. I do not complain about being sick at work.  I have been through two entire pregnancies since I got my current job and I didn’t make a peep.  Not one.  I worked straight through from conception to delivery twice and missed maybe maybe a total of 3 days.  Does that give you a little better concept of how I was feeling?  I also hate HATE hate to inconvenience people.  I will go a long long way out of my way to avoid getting in yours.  I regularly stay at work late so that they won’t have to call the call team in because I know that that is inconvenient.  I just really don’t want to be a bother.

Jason wanted to get me out, the problem was that he already had General call, Liver call and Neuro call there along with one or two people who weren’t on call but had agreed to stay and help out.  There were 5 rooms going.

Finally, after getting a hard time from my doctor, and there may have been some tears on my part (not directed at Jason, he was doing his best and really I felt bad for causing him more problems) because I just felt so awful, he called Richard who was the tech on call for CV.  As soon as they told that he was on his way I felt better, a lot better.  Not, “I’m going to hit the gym on my way home from work” better not even “I think I might eat again this week” better but definitely”if I had only felt this bad all along they wouldn’t have had to call anyone in for me” better.  I even felt a little guilty that Richard was coming in.  Not quite guilty enough to call him back (he was already on his way after all) but a little bit.

Unfortunately Richard is a little bit of a prima-donna and he was not happy about being called in to let me go home just because I wasn’t feeling well.  In fact, as soon as he got to the OR he was working on finding a way to not have to get me out, trying to shift people around, shake things up, and just generally work it out so that he wouldn’t have to work.  For ten minutes he did this.

And then all of a sudden they called out of room nine.  The case they were doing, the easiest, teensiest, nothingest case going in the whole OR had gone badly, really badly, this complication has never ever happened before kind of badly, and they needed to open the patient’s chest immediately.

That’s what CV does.  And only CV does it.

Richard wasted no time, he ran back to room nine and immediately started grabbing supplies and setting up for the case that they were now going to have to do.  And there wasn’t one other person in the OR who would have had any idea of what to do.

If I had felt any better, even the slightest bit better, I would not have cried and I would not have looked so awful that my doctor friends were offering to write me notes and Richard would not have been there.  If I had not felt as awful as I did, despite the drugs, rest and fluid that I had gotten, Richard wouldn’t have been there.  If I had found someone to cover my call or if they had found someone to cover the 11-11 shift, Richard wouldn’t have been there.

My religion teaches a lot about free will.  And I absolutely believe it, no one can make me do anything.  Including God.

But I wonder if sometimes He goes out of His way, maybe a long way out of His way, to make sure things turn out they way he wants them to.

Or maybe it was a coincidence.


* All names have been changed.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristina
    Feb 13, 2009 @ 23:32:41

    Thank goodness for small miracles! I am sorry you are feeling so crappy, Allison!

  2. robyn
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 01:20:19

    Oh yeah, O know that sickness. I had it almost a week ago. I found myself in the doctors office in tears because my skin was on fire. He said I had a bad virus and it had to just run its course. bleh.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon!

  3. BEk
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 02:33:46

    I felt so bad for you tonight. Like you, I was relieved to hear that Richard “happened” to be there when the crap hit the fan. I hope we don’t have another night like that again, ever. You are amazing and I’ll vouch for you never complaining or going home sick unless you are REALLY sick. I hope you get feeling better in a hurry!

  4. cheryl
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 08:13:40

    Stuff like this happens all the time. Strange ways in which miracles come about –but dude, I wouldn’t call it coincidence. Just the fact that you thought God might have had a hand in it shows that He did.

    Although, cruddy! I’m sorry you had to get so sick. I swear, everyone’s sick! Well, maybe it just seems that way because I’ve been sick…

  5. karen
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 08:50:53 gave me the shivers! I’m so glad I had the patience to read all the way to the end of the story. I never expected it to end that way!

  6. Annette
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 11:08:34

    Wow. On so many levels. Not the least of which is that you amaze me.

  7. Alison @ hairlinefracture
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 11:32:28

    Oh my goodness. That is an incredible story.

    P.S. Feel better soon!

  8. Melanie J
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 12:33:05

    Wow. Amazing story. I spent enough months in hospitals with my dad to know how often God’s hand is really there. How lucky that you get to witness it so often.

  9. bythelbs
    Feb 14, 2009 @ 21:57:32

    Fantastic story. I got momentarily lost somewhere amidst the “calls” and then got momentarily stuck on you working straight through the conception of two of your boys, which kind of makes it an even more fantastic story.

  10. Jen
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 00:22:35

    I love when that kind of thing happens. It’s so validating. On so many levels.

    Hope you feel better, but at least it was for a really good cause.

  11. Dollie
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 22:33:23

    I hope you feel better soon ! that is definitely a perk of working in the hospital zofran iv style I love zofran when I am preggers… Thank heavens for Heavenly Fathers plan eh?

  12. LisAway
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 00:29:14

    Oh Alison! You’ve just undone that dark picture you painted of yourself a few posts back!. Here I’m expecting the point to be that you were forced to work so long and aren’t you so poor. Of course I got that part, too, but that you can see the miracle in you having to stay and work when you’d rather be dead is just great.

    That really is an amazing story. I hope you’re feeling better!

  13. GrumpyAngel
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 18:40:52

    I hope you are feeling better. I’m sorry you had to be sick to make things work out for the person who needed Richard to be there. But I think it is so amazing that somehow you were part of the equation that allowed a miracle to happen.

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