Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

Pediatric nurses > the rest of us RNs’

on March 11, 2015

Now I know, I really, really know, I could never be a pediatric nurse.

raindrop   Here’s the reason why:

I knew before I met her she had Cerebral palsy. Her date of birth placed her at twenty-four, but since I knew that 30-40% of people with CP have some degrees of developmental delay, her cognitive functioning would be below the average for someone of her age. She was having dental work under LMAC (that means anesthesia wouldn’t have to put a tube down her throat). You tie it all together and what you have is a pediatric case, the only exception being the patient has the BMI of an average adult.

But I’m digressing here – getting carried away with facts when what I want to do stay open- and share.

So, I’ll start by calling her Beth.

Beth arrived in a wheelchair. With her Dad’s help, she could stand, pivot, and move her right arm enough so Mom could change her into a surgical gown.

Dora the Explorer sat snugly under her right arm.  Beth’s affect was that of a six year old.

She smiled and giggled when I said “Mom, Dad, you also have to wear gowns and funny blue hats!” Beth winced when the blood pressure cuff tightened, and when I asked her if she was okay, she shook her head up and down and said “I’m a big girl.”

Then I had to start her IV.

Her father held her left arm straight for me and I went for the forearm. No luck. People with CP have as a result of the disorder, low muscle tone. Veins sit low, not close to the surface

Beth started whimpering at this point. We three were trying to sooth her, giving her encouragement. Her Dad, apparently used to this experience, was gently turning her arm around. He knew I had to find a spot. And I did, right on the inside of her wrist – one of the most sensitive places to start an IV.

Beth’s whimpering turned into crying. She wasn’t  trying to jerk her arm away. She was just lying there crying.  Total Submission.

I had a lump in my throat when I started with some lidocaine under her skin. Then I made the mistake of looking at her. She looked back with pure panic in her eyes. My chest started to hurt (and it wasn’t my arrhythmia).

Now I’m sitting there trying to hold back my own tears. I felt nothing but guilt. There was no this is for your own good – I’m a nurse doing my job kind of feeling. I couldn’t separate. For a moment I froze. I remember thinking I can’t do this to her.

I got the IV on the second try and with some Versed in her IV, Beth got smiley and sleepy.

I hear people say all the time “Nurses are special”. Maybe we are. But pediatric nurses…

THEY ARE AMAZING.


5 responses to “Pediatric nurses > the rest of us RNs’

  1. I work with people like Beth every day. I can’t even measure how rich my life is because of this.

    • Susan says:

      Gosh, I’m sitting here having just read your comment and yes, I never stopped to think about it, but those kinds of experiences help me to feel really alive, not because I don’t have CP, but becaue

    • Susan says:

      trigger finger , ugghh – but because “Beth” had an impact on me, I get to keep feeling human. It sounds corny, but I don’t care. John – thank you for what you do! You must have a gigantic heart!

      • I was wondering what happened. :-). I don’t know if having a big heart has as much to do with it as I have a need to provide a safe and happy home for the most vulnerable people. I’m good at it so therefore I’m obligated to do such a thing. Fortunately, it gives me great satisfaction, and it makes me happy.

  2. Ellen Hawley says:

    I’m not sure what to say, except that you drew me into this completely. Thanks.

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