Friday, October 01, 2004

Milestones

I passed a major nursing milestone on Thursday: my first shot. I gave a postpartum woman an anti-nausea medication via an intramuscular injection. This is the most complicated type of injection and involves aspirating for blood return and finding the right spot for contact. I was extremely nervous but it went off without a hitch. My patient was cooperative and thank goodness I hit the right spot and managed to miss major vessels. Now that I've lost my needle virginity, I feel like a new girl.

One troubling thing that happened yesterday occured after I placed an infant back in its basinette after a feeding. A nurse and I were fussing with a patient when the patient said "My baby looks funny." The nurse looked over at the baby: "Ah," she said "that's because he's choking." Sure enough, the baby was choking on some vomit and had to be suctioned and slapped around a bit. The baby was fine and there wasn't anything I could have done differently but somehow being the last one to hold the infant was not particularly encouraging.
Today marked another major milestone: seeing the first type of nursing that I know I just could not do. We had a tour of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and saw several one-pound, 26-week-old babies. It was troubling and shocking. The NICU has to be kept dark and quiet because these sort-of-babies' nervous systems are so undeveloped that loud noises can make their brains hemmorhage. Seriously. Bright lights can give them seizures. The nurses have to walk softly, talk quietly and have a constitution that is utterly foreign to me. I could never work with these patients.

Outside the NICU, though, is the good old-fashioned nursery and I think it has to be one of the happiest places on earth. We assisted nurses in cuddling, examining, feeding, changing and ferrying babies back and forth to their mothers. Unlike the NICU, the nursery is loud as all get out: babies are crying, nurses are laughing and parents cooing and doctors trying to talk over it all. I was in charge of examining, washing up, warming up, dressing and feeding a newborn who had just arrived in the nursery after being born. The baby was bottle fed and I fed her and was amazed the whole time to think this little person didn't exist until an hour ago. I was so proud to deliver her clean and pink back to her mother. I think I could definitely work in a nursery.
It was a really wonderful experience. It's gearing us up for next Thursday where we start birthing babies (!).

Big bad pathophysiology exam on Monday which will occupy most of the weekend. My nursing-related activity this Sunday will be a blood pressure screening at some Korean churches on Sunday.

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