As most regular readers will know, I don’t tend to blog about work at all. I am going to today, but only very abstractly.
I had my first cardiac arrest yesterday. Well, not me, my patient. She hadn’t been right all day, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but when I looked at her, I just knew something wasn’t right. The doctor had also been concerned, and fortunately she was there when it happened. I turned and ran for the emergency trolley, along with the senior nurse, except that it wasn’t where we were expecting it to be, so we both did a mini lap of the nurse’s station looking for it! By that point, half a dozen people had arrived on the scene and CPR had started.
I’ve been taught dozens of times how to do CPR – 5 rescue breaths and then 15:2 compressions to breaths* – but never once have I been taught what you should do if everyone else is already doing that! However I didn’t spend long wondering what to do – after clearing the cot of toys and grabbing a load of needles and syringes, I followed orders to draw up an adrenaline infusion. My heart was beating twice as fast as normal and all I seemed to be able to think were swear words and ‘I’ve got too much adrenaline in my body’, but somehow, somewhere my brain instructed my hands to draw up the correct amount of adrenaline. Another nurse was sorting the boluses of adrenaline and another nurse drew up the fluid for the infusion.
The arrest only last 4 minutes. But every second during those minutes felt like a lifetime. I had worked with the child on many shifts and I know the parents well. So beyond the general panic, was the emotional feelings as I hoped she would pull through. The parents weren’t there at the time, so I was also vaguely wondering when/how we would contact them. Thankfully she stabilised after the 4 minutes.
At the time, it felt like my head wasn’t screwed on and I could have done everything a lot better. Another nurse I was working with and a friend of mine who was working nearby and watched the whole thing, both said I did really well. I found it really hard to believe them, that they weren’t just trying to make me feel better. The nurse said that not many people could draw up an adrenaline infusion so quickly, with such pressure and limited experience. My friend, who started work the same day as me, reiterated that and told me that no matter how much you do, you’re always going to come away feeling like you could have done more.
After it was all over, I felt physically and emotionally drained. And my heart needed a break after pounding so quickly! So after sorting out the drugs that needed doing and clearing up the clutter that had been created during the arrest, I collapsed in the coffee room with my friend, who kindly fed me chocolate. The rest of the shift ran relatively smoothly, although there were equally distressing situations happening close to where I was working, which added to the general stressfulness.
At the end of the day, I came into the coffee room to pick up my stuff, and my friend was waiting for me and told me we were going to the pub. I didn’t get a choice, not that I was complaining! It was just what was needed. There were 4 of us newly qualified nurses on, and we’d all had stressful days, so we all went to the pub together. It was great to chat / laugh / rant over a drink and it meant that we were all relatively relaxed by the time we got home.
* NB – They teach 30:2 for lay people, due to the differences with adults and children.