June 11, 2013

Tuesday Topics: Seven Things About my Job

My blog is my creative home away from home from my job. 
For those of you who don't know, I am a registered nurse.
There are times where I would like to talk about my job more, get things I see out of my mind and off my chest, but there are many laws that prohibit me from doing so.

Here are some of my past posts about being a nurse:

Okay so that was only five things about my job...That means I need two more?
One: I can't stomach seeing people get beat up but I can stomach horrific traumas after. I don't know why.

Two: Today I am going to share a post that has taken me months to write.
Many, many months.
This patient changed my life forever.

I wanted to post this post in April for Child Abuse Awareness Month, but I couldn't bring myself to do so at that time.

This is one of the hardest posts I have ever written.

Also I must say since I am not an anonymous blogger this post will be slightly cryptic to obey all HIPPA laws. I was very affected by this, and while this blog is my outlet away from nursing, I try and keep work and blog separate for myself and my patients.

While I was in nursing school my last semester, I did my specialty in the Emergency Room (ER). This meant that I worked full time (on top of research/school) in the ER the entire semester.

Now working in the ER for just one semester gave me some pretty funny stories I will admit, but I also got a lot of hard cases. I now see why burn out in an ER is common. It is a taxing job. There were nights I would come home (I worked the 12pm-12am shift) and was too wide awake with adrenaline from all I had seen and done to go to sleep. My brain would just not shut off.

I remember this case vividly. I was working in the ER Fast Track. This meant instead of my 1-3 ER patients I would have 6. This meant a lot of drug seekers and runny noses. Me and the Physician's Assistant (PA) in a closed off area away from the main Emergency Department.

Now triage is a hard job. A triage nurse is in charge of deciding how severe the patients needs are.
The ER was relatively full and I only had 4 other patients. I received my new patient. On my triage form it said one year old with busted lip and possible broken arm from a fall. When I went in to interview the patient and introduce myself, I was appalled by the busted lip. This one year old had so much swelling that it was touching the nose. It was also so far past infected. I also had to look at the age again because the child was so small.  The mom was there. I told the mom that I would need to assess and prepare the child for an x-ray.

Re-reading  the description of all of the child's injuries sound simple compared to my memory: The limp arms (both were broken), bald patches on his head (malnutrition), course hair (more malnutrition), bruising all over his body, his lip, red marks on his neck (strangulation), bits of dried blood (from scratching him and picking him with thumbtacks), and the cigarette burns that were infected between each one of his little toes.

I felt horror but remained calm, non-nonchalant.
I needed this woman to believe that I did not suspect anything.

I went out and grabbed the nurse who was to overlook my work if I needed anything and the PA. I told them I suspected abuse. The PA asked if it was bad and I described the various injuries. They both looked disgusted and the PA went in to see the patient and confirm my findings. The nurse called the police and hospital security. We knew we needed to remain calm and act as if we did not suspect a thing to ensure the mom wouldn't run.

Security came to me asking for a run down. They remained hidden in the break room conveniently located across from the patient so that the mother would not see them.

The PA came out of the patient's room. She pulled me into her office and began crying. She said she couldn't go back in there.

She went to talk to the main ER doc who told her she could handle it. She was shaking the rest of the night. She only went back in there once to tell the mother that his arm was broken. (We only did an x-ray on one of them initially)

We were careful and calculated. The mother stated we were taking too long. I apologized and said the ER was busy tonight.

The cops arrived. I told them of everything I saw medically.
They went and detained her leaving me with the baby.

The PA handled all the other patients so I could focus my efforts on this baby.

This was the first time I was ever afraid to hold a baby.
The baby was so little, so hurt everywhere that no matter how I held the baby, the baby was in pain.

The PA ordered some Tylenol.
Then I checked the babies diaper and realized that it was dry.
The baby had been here for several hours. There should have been pee!
I realized then, in the pit of my stomach, that this underweight baby had probably not been fed in who knows how long.

I gave the baby some orange juice.
The baby was so desperate for it, but at the same time in so much pain trying to drink it with the lip infection that ultimately it couldn't be done.
I was scared giving fluids because the baby's lungs were course but I told the PA and she stated it was fine and just to monitor the baby. I held this baby, checked the baby's lungs every five minutes, and talked to the baby.

We ended up bringing the baby into the main ER to get more hands and the MD.

We sent that baby to a trauma center.
My shift was supposed to end at Midnight.
I tended to him until transport left at 2:30am.

I couldn't get to sleep that night.

Life. Love.Lauren


  1. I can't even imagine! That is horrible. That makes me so sick! What did the mother seem like? Was she on drugs? I can't fathom any other explanation other than just pure evil! I hope she never, ever got that baby back. That is heartbreaking.

  2. i can understand why it has taken you so long to write this...breaks my heart to know that there are people out there who would do this to their own children. thanks for sharing this

  3. Oh, how horrible. I can't even imagine. Angel works in a burn unit and in the last few years he's had several patients who were victims of child abuse and were taken away from their parents as a result. The stories he brings back make me cry because these parents cause permanent damage to their children's lives and bodies.

  4. I can't even imagine however I feel as if I were doing something medical it would be in the ER. Blame it on the tv shows I guess, even though I know that's not all true. My stepmom is head of high-risk pregnancy and I hear stories all the time about how women abuse themselves and how their babies are already high and dependent on such and such and its just heart breaking.

  5. This story just covered my arms in goosebumps. I think nursing is probably one of the hardest jobs out there, especially when it comes to sensitive and emotional cases like this. Do you ever find out what happens to patients after they are discharged? I hope that sweet baby was put in the hands of someone who would love him and take care of him!

  6. I can't imagine having to see a child that was so abused, I applaud you for being able to be calm and not make it known that security was on it's way. I would have beat the living hell out of that mom, I can't even begin to tell you how much that makes my blood boil. This story is absolutely heartbreaking. Thank you for staying with that poor baby. I hope to God that sweet baby is with a family that will love and care for him.

  7. oh, lauren, that's awful. it's horrific what people can do to children. hopefully that baby is well now.

  8. I am in tears thinking of this poor baby. How someone can do that to a child is beyond me. Lauren, I can't believe you witnessed that! You are much stronger than I could ever be, especially dealing with something like that. I would have screamed and yelled at the mother....even though I know it wouldn't have changed anything; maybe even make things worse. You did what you needed to do; you were attentive and calm throughout the situation, which resulted in this baby getting the care he really needed!

    Nurses see and do it all, and know that you are very much appreciated for everything you do!

  9. What a blessing you are! I wish more nurses and doctors would share their stories because I think the medical profession and people like you, don't get the credit that deserve. I'm so glad that you were able to stay calm and that you were able to provide the love and care that you did for that little one. I'm glad that the baby made it into the ER that night and received your care. Your work as a nurse, will forever be a blessing to that little baby. Thanks so much for sharing. Be blessed, Kristin

  10. Reading this had me in tears. I already thought you had a hard job dealing with very sick patients, but I never thought about the other horrors you have to see. Were you ale to find out if the baby was put back with the parent?

  11. Ugh. I'm a nurse tech and my mom is a nurse in the ER (same hospital!) so I see and hear things too and it SUCKS to not be able to blog about it. I truly believe being and RN is THE SINGLE most stressful job there is. Besides being exposed to cases like this, you are being pulled between the doctor, patient, patient's family members, case managers, secretaries, the charge nurse, the nurse tech, etc...all I can say, is it takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. Not just anyone can walk up into a hospital and do your job.

    This particular case is disgusting.
    I don't know if I could have done it.
    I really don't. I've been a nurse tech for only 2 years (while finishing my prereqs for the RN program) and already I feel like I'm burnt out and I'm starting to think that I'm one of those people who just aren't cut out to be an RN.

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  13. It's really sad how much child abuse goes on in our small city... I remember working admissions and having the prettiest 6 month old baby girl. Pretty much the happiest baby I'd ever seen considering she had a broken arm from being thrown across the room...

  14. Thank you for sharing. It's sad and disturbing that there was no one else around to notice the abuse before the baby was abused so badly that he had to come to the hospital.

    How do you deal with it? Do they have any outlets for your that don't violate HIPAA?

    Thank you for hosting the link up.

  15. Wow, what a heartbreaking story. I can't even imagine that horror. Good for you, catching the signs of abuse and ensuring that the baby got out of that horrific environment!

  16. Woah, my hearts broken.. I hope there was a happy outcome for that baby! Good for u for making the right decision, I can't imagine how hard seeing all of that could of been. When I was doing placement I had a little girl in my senior kindergarten class who everyday no matter what would have a sweater on one day her sweater coat came off with her jacket and I noticed Lil circle marks that looked blistered I told the teacher it turns out they were cigarette Burns she would get for doing things she was suppose to.. like u know peeing the freaking bed, poor girl 6 yrs old.. broke my heart after that she moved in with her grandmother not sure what happened with her father but I hope he Burns in hell

  17. people are such monsters. why anyone would do that to a baby is beyond me. those "parents" deserve everything that comes at them.

    horrible :(

  18. Tears in my eyes after reading that. How anyone can treat an innocent baby like that is completely beyond me.

  19. Oh my goodness. I can't imagine. I cannot handle abuse. Poor baby :( You are such an amazing and kind hearted nurse, I'm sure that baby could feel the love and care you had for him. ♥

  20. Augh I wish I wouldn't have read this. I don't see how anyone could do this to a child. They are just so innocent and carefree and full of love. Definitely pulled at this new momma's heart strings. Good for you for being able to recognize abuse and get this child into proper care.

  21. These are the stories that hurt my heart the most. Thank goodness for nurses like you.

  22. Wow that is horrible, but such a familiar scene for any ER nurse. As mandatory reporters we have to do what is right and often sometimes hard but it makes such a big impact in the lives of those poor children! Thanks for sharing.

  23. I just got around to reading this... I'm so glad you finally told your story. <3


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