Saving lives is badass. I once worked in orthopedics. I was sitting in the nurse’s station just charting the events of the day. There was a man recovering from a fresh post-op hip replacement about 50 feet from where I was sitting. Suddenly, I had this strange feeling I needed to check on this man for no reason, even though I had just been in his room a few minutes prior.
I peaked my head around the door, “Hey, Mr. Johnson, just checking on you, are you feeling okay?”
He had an unsure look on his face. “Yah, I guess so. I had chest pain right here a few minutes ago but it’s gone now.” He said pointing to his left chest just under the fourth rib intercostal.
“Do you feel any heaviness on your chest or pressure now that the pain is gone?” I asked.
“Uh, yah, actually I do”, he said. “But hardly noticeable”.
I had just learned ACLS, and had just learned to read EKGs. The hospital was a brand new building specializing in orthopedics and cardiology, and had been open less than a year. We had no chest pain protocol on the orthopedic unit, but I had been cross-trained for post-op cardiac cathaterization patients as well. I took his vitals and they were fine. But, I KNEW something just didn’t seem right as the 40-something man laid in the bed smiling at me reassuring me he was fine.
I went around the corner a few doors down to get the EKG machine and by the time I got back I could see beads of sweat on his forehead and on his chest. I ran the test and it revealed he was having a massive heart attack, called a STEMI.
I ran out of the room getting ready to call the appropriate people, and it just so happened one of the interventional cardiologists was strolling by the nurse’s station. I stopped him, “I know this isn’t your patient but I just took this EKG because my patient was complaining of chest pressure.”
“This man is having a heart attack”, he said. He went directly into the room, and started asking the man questions. I called the orthopedic surgeon. Within 15 minutes of the time I peaked into his room, he was in the elevator on his bed going down to the 24 hour cath lab. While en route on the elevator, his heart stopped and we were doing compressions. The numbers on the elevator seemed to pass so slow. I was literally on top of his bed in this tiny cramped elevator doing compressions. We got a pulse.
He was immediately taken to the lab and three 100% occluded arteries were found. His family, completely blindsided, were waiting upstairs in his room. The next day, I came to work and he was on the cardiac unit. I went into see him and his family had gotten me flowers and a card. I heard thank you at least 20 times. But, the best part of all, was the smile on that guy’s face while he was cuddling with his kids sitting on his bed. Being a nurse is badass.