Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Endings

A while back we had a bad case.

40 year old healthy female with almost no risk factors came in via EMS complaining of chest pain. You could tell by looking at her that she was having a big fat MI.

About 5 minutes after she got on the gurney, we were preparing to transfer her, because we didn't have anyone on call to take her to the cath lab. (Note to people in my town: don't have an MI on the weekend.)

And then it happened.

She coded.

And it was a sucky code. You know, the kind where there's no suction hooked up. And there's no ambu-bag. And when the doc hollered for something, everyone thought that someone else was going to get it, but no one went and got it.

If she had been 90, we would have just called it. But she wasn't.

She was 40.

At one point I looked at the doc and said, "You know this isn't going to turn out well, right?" And he said, "I have to try."

(BTW, he left to go work somewhere else a few months ago, and I miss him horribly.) *waves*

We'd get her back, and then she'd code again, and then we'd get her back again and on and on.

Oh yeah, the Big Shiny Helicopter wasn't flying, either, so she was going to have to go ground, which is a 45 minute transport.

Finally we got her back for about 5 minutes, and decided that it was now or never.

We put her on a Epi drip, and loaded her up. The other doc was going off shift right then, and he decided to go with EMS since she was so unstable, just to lend a hand.

It's a good thing he did, because she coded two or three times on the way to the Fancy Cardiac Hospital in the Big City.

But by the time they got there, she had a pulse and a pressure, and a couple hours later we heard that she made it through the cath lab, where they cleared a couple of really ugly blockages.

I told the doc that I hoped she didn't end up a vegetable. He agreed. But like he said, he had to try.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a two xerox copies of two thank you notes hanging on the doc's bulletin board in their "office".

They were from her.

Written by her.

Thanking them for saving her life.

She's almost back to normal. She can't remember that night or the next few days, but she has almost no deficits.

Her kids still have their mom. Her husband still has his wife. Her parents still have their daughter.

Because of our two docs that wouldn't give up, even when it looked hopeless.

That, my friends, is why we do what we do.


Anonymous said...

Great post, made me cry! Nice to hear a positive story.

Anonymous said...

It's so nice to read a positive story. Yaaaay!

These days, happy endings seem so few and far between.

Erika said...

I love the happy endings. made me cry, too.

Head RN said...


Sarah said...

I love when there's a happy ending. Too often we don't get to see that.


Yup, that's what makes our day, no matter how crappy the shift has been. I'm so happy she made it. Happier still that she let you guys know!

Nurse K said...

Woohoo to MG and "that doctor who left" ;-).

We've had a good streak lately of really crayzee-awesome outcomes in younger people with bad, bad problems. There's one that I've been itching to blog about, but it's so crayzee that I have to wait for a long, long time and it's pissing me off.

Anonymous said...

Good save! They don't come along often, so appreciate this one as much as possible.

Unknown said...

Great post!

Thank you for sharing this. Like other said, it is so rare that we get to see our patients do better these days.

Tiffany said...

It is so nice to have some reassurance that Im going into the right profession.

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

"Amen" to that

WardBunny said...

That's what makes this job the best in the world some days!

alex said...

beautiful. people have been dying...a lot...on my unit lately. I needed to hear a story with a happy ending. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

yay :D

Journey_On said...

Wow, what an unforgettable experience. Thank you for doing what you do.

MonkeySister said...

Where's snarky? Where's heart-less? You're going soft on me. Let's get a post about the fibromyalgeurs going, okay?

"You can DO it!"

Anonymous said...

That was an awesome story. Thank you for inspiring this soon to be graduate nurse (May 09) and reminding me WHY I'm busting my ass in nursing school. I love hearing stories like that one.

Thank you.

VetRN said...

So glad you had a good save--we all really need one from time to time. Last night I had the antithesis of yours--in the midst of an entirely suck-y night, we got a morbidly obese (~450 lb.) 50 year-old woman; full arrest, arrived needing re-tubed (glidescope showed LOTS of aspirated food in the trachea--surprise!!)couldn't get a line, gave meds I/O till the doc finally got a central (which was pretty tough due to her size), emptied the crash cart, shocked her a ridiculous number of times. Worked the damn code for close to an hour and got nary a flicker. While my GI bleeder next door was puking up liver-sized clots in the basin, and the lithium OD down the hall was chewing through her restraints and shitting charcoal everywhere. My luck's gotta change soon--I'm due!!

RehabNurse said...

I'm 40 now and I pray if I ever have that happen to me I have folks there who won't give up there for me, too.

Bianca Castafiore? said...

I've been "brought back" several times, and sending a thank-you note never seemed adequate, words aren't enough -- but they're all we have.

Wonderful work. Thank you!

Spook, RN said...

A wise man once said: "We must sift a great many pebbles, but the nuggets are our reward".


Great story MG :-)

tsp said...

I love stories like that makes it so worth while

Anonymous said...

a merry christmas for that family, indeed.

you guys rock.

Anonymous said...

Awesome work! Isn't it great when one finally makes it? A great job well done. It's the firsties that make that happen. Airway breathing circulation. If you guys hadn't been on it, she wouldn't have made it! Great work!

Anonymous said...

Bravo. Just bravo.

Heathen said...

I am 40. My daughter is applying to nursing school next month. She has been busting ass with A&P and Microbiology exams. This is why.
Thank you.

webhill said...

A friend/neighbor of mine had an MI recently - 40 years old and about 3 weeks postpartum with her third kid. Her husband called 911 and when the ambulance arrived, an MD who lived across the street ran over, thinking something must be wrong with the baby. Thank goodness the doc on the street kind of took over and directed EMS to transport to a place with a decent cardiac wing, because the place they'd planned to take her would have been woefully understaffed for such a thing. She's fine now too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the work that you do!