December 6, 2012

My First Code

Written approx 1 month ago...

All or most of you probably know by now that I am a nurse. I was inspired by my sister and just the random calling to be a nurse. This post is not the most glamorous post, so some of you may want to stop reading.

I am still a very new nurse. I graduated in December of 2011. I had test anxiety over the NCLEX, didn't study properly, and actually did not pass the first time I took it. I saved up my money, studied, and took it again and passed. Then I got married, moved to Tucson, and struggled to find a job. There is a job shortage out there for new nurses. Thankfully I found the job I am in now and I know it is where I need to be right now.

As a nursing student, I was lucky to have seen and performed a lot. More than many of my peers, actually. I started lots of IV's, I've put in an NG tube, I've been in the OR, I've seen several circumcisions, I've witnessed a baby's first breaths, I've removed stitches and staples, I've worked in psych units, I've pulled out and put in urinary catheters; I've administrated medications via all the routes, I've done a couple different dressing changes (sorry all you non-medical folks or people who have stopped reading because you are grossed out) and much more. The biggest thing for me when I was a nursing student though, was my first code.

I was in the ER and heard code blue over the intercom. It was in the ICU and they needed all the hands they could get. I ran over and helped out with compressions. I will sadly never forget the feeling of broken ribs under my hands. Thank God for adrenaline because it caused me not to stop and freak out. Thankfully since he was in the ICU it was what we call a controlled code and we had all the medications on hand and accessed IVs and sites to get things done quickly. I can't remember how many people were in the room, but there were so many all performing different tasks, working together, to save this man's life.

Despite our best efforts, we were not reviving him. His family was called and we were given the okay to let the patient go. Tired as heck, we all stopped and the patient passed away.

People have been in codes longer than me in this first code, but even a minute in "code time" seems like an eternity.

To this day, that has been my only full blown code that I have participated in. When I was in my first ever rotation in nursing school, I did have one of the best clinical advisers I had pull me aside to witness a death. This man was being pulled from life support. My clinical adviser stated she chose me to see it because she said I could handle it. I am glad she did and it gave me the purpose to continue and do what some other people cannot handle. 

These two experiences also prepared me for my most recent experience. When you are in nursing school, you are not acting under your own licence. Now that I have my own, it was infinitely weirder to be called to call a time of death. I was the supervisor for the building a Saturday ago and was called to the Long Term Care side by an LPN who stated that her patient had passed away. Where I work, there are not always doctors present, so it falls to the Registered Nurse to assess the patient and call time of death. The silence in my stethoscope was eerie. 

One thing I didn't have in nursing school: my first fall. No worries. I got a couple of those (and they are okay) and the paperwork to come with it...


  1. You are an inspiration! So happy you found something that you like and could share a story such as this.

    Miss V's Busy Bees

  2. Wow - I can't imagine. Working in the hospital, I always hear Code Blues/MSET/Stemis and always wonder what's happening. That's awesome you had such a great adviser!

  3. Wow, you have had the opportunity to do quite a lot in your nursing career! I could not imagine being part of a “code time”. Bless you nurses!!

  4. So glad you shared this with us. Right now, all I know about the medical world is what I see on 'Grey's Anatomy'...which we all know is awesome, but may not be completely accurate! ;-)

    All I know is, it takes a strong person to do what you do, and just know that you are very much appreciated!

  5. So glad you shared this. You are an amazing woman, my mom is a nurse and she used to tell me some crazy stories. So thankful for people like you who love what they do and are great at it :) you're an inspiration, girl.

  6. I will always remember my first patient death. It was during my internship, and I agree that during that time the minutes seem like hours. Until then I had only experienced death from a more personal standpoint, like at funerals and with people I knew in our community. It was such a weird feeling, being a part of the death but being on the "outside" of the patient's close family and friends. I'm glad you posted this!

  7. This is why people like you are nurses, and not me. I can't even handle getting my own blood drawn.

    This post was amazing, Lauren. How sad (and scary) those experiences must have been for you. I am so grateful for you, and for the nurses who have taken care of me during childbirth and all that good stuff.

  8. Wow. This is so surreal. I really couldn't imagine. You nurses are such strong people! And on a random note my husband did Nathan's circ. I think the doctor was a little nutty. He got it all ready and let John make the cut. So weird I know.

  9. I can't imagine having to do that...I considered being a paramedic, but the more I think about it, the less I believe I could do what had to be done.

  10. Here one minute-Gone the next! Never know when you time is up! That's it lights out! The worst is when they come in to the ED, after spending the day with the fam, and they are "Just not feeling right", then - BAM! Code Blue! Sad.

    What department do you work in? I work in the ED, but just coming up on a year, so by far no expert! Prior to that I worked in Med Surg, Tele, and Womens care!

    Well, I don't know what to say now. So, I going to say bye. Have fun at work!


  11. Lauren, you are such a great writer! Thanks for sharing! I am in nursing school right now, and your post was encouraging. -Alexis

  12. When I worked at the hospital I would sometimes do OT as PBX (operator) and I HATED calling codes. I could only imagine being in the room.

  13. i can relate to this so well...i participated in many codes when i was in my first year of residency and working in the icu. that feeling of cracked ribs is one you never forget. thankfully, i haven't had to pronounce more than 1 or 2 patients, but it's quite possibly the worst part of the job. thank you for writing this post!


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