Thursday, December 09, 2004

Stents, Fruit Punch and Coffee

I had my first surgical patient today. I was a little nervous at first because these are the sorts of patients that are connected to countless tubes, drains, stents, on a hefty number of narcotics and in too much pain to move. Did I mention all the tubes? However, I went very slow and prepared enough so that I was able to remember what was what and what to do with what (did you get that?).

Part of caring for this patient involved emptying all sorts of receptacles and charting the amount and quality of the fluids this child's body was producing. The theme? Food. I asked my instructor how nurses generally describe the discharge from a LCS nasogastric tube (a tube that is attached to suction machine that removes all of the blood and bile from the child's stomach) - I was thinking about describing it as "dark brown with black granules" but my instructor took one look at my specimen and said "coffee grinds." When I described some other fluid as "pinkish," she corrected me and said that "fruit-punch colored" was really the better term to use. The terms are bang-on. However, I will no longer be able to look upon either of these substances again without feeling just a little bit like vomiting.

I also, of course, have my running list of dingbat nursing student things I did over the course of 8 hours. Today, this consisted of trying to insert medicine through an air port instead of the needle port, incorrectly closing a drainage bag that subsequently leaked all over the floor, being unable to multiply 1.7 times 2 without a calculator (!?!?!?!?) and getting myself locked into the medicine room. One good thing about making mistakes is that I will (I hope) never make them again and reminds me there is so much to learn. Also, these mistakes were fairly minor since I caught them before they adversely affected anything other than my ego. I can't say anything positive about me being unable to perform the most basic mathematical operation. That just makes me stupid.

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