Imprint 2024 January | Page 30


By Hillary Peralta

Losing a Patient

“ Don ’ t let the elevator stop . I ’ m running to a code on the Peds unit .” The physician rushed into the already packed elevator and vigorously pressed the button to the sixth floor , hoping it would somehow make the ascent faster . I remembered him from morning rounds and immediately experienced a gut reaction that had me turning to my instructor , saying , “ It ’ s my patient . I know it ’ s my patient . I need to be there .”
Six hours before , I had started my first clinical rotation in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit ( PICU ) as a nursing student . My instructor dropped me and another student off on the sixth floor and returned to the med-surg floor , where most of my classmates remained . Only two nurses were in the PICU that day . My student colleague and I randomly assigned ourselves to shadow a specific one . My nurse had three patients that day ; however , we spent most of our morning in one patient ’ s room — a 5-year-old boy who was admitted due to a sickle cell crisis . The nurses had a special bond with this patient because they had been treating him intermittently since birth . The hours sped by as the nurse and I implemented various interventions . We administered medications , assisted the respiratory therapist with breathing treatments , and soothed him when he became restless . I met his family members , who were loving and involved in his care . They asked questions about his treatments and advocated on his behalf . Their love for him was evident to me during the few short hours I interacted with them . goodbye to my nurse and rode the elevator down to the cafeteria . I could not wait to share my great day in the PICU with the others . I shadowed a wonderful nurse who provided numerous teaching opportunities , and the challenging aspects of the ICU kept me on my toes and tested my knowledge . I left the floor feeling fulfilled , knowing some of the small things I did provided a sense of comfort . In short , I loved it , and I could see myself working on a similar floor . Lunch was blissfully uneventful , but my whole day changed when I stepped into that elevator .
I followed the physician and ran down the hallway to my patient ’ s room , hoping my instinct was wrong . My heart sank when I saw the crowd of people entering and leaving . I squeezed myself into a corner , taking up as little space as possible . I silently observed the scene unfolding before me while uncontrollable tears ran down my cheeks . I noticed the nurse requesting epinephrine had a badge reel that said she worked in trauma and was a veteran . I started imagining the horrors she must have witnessed while serving in the military and working in the emergency room of an inner-city hospital . I looked over to the medical students who were lining up at the door and taking turns performing chest compressions . It seemed so unnatural and barbaric that they were vigorously pumping the small chest of a 5-year-old boy , hoping any intervention would generate a pulse . The monitor next to them continued to display a white , flat line .

It ’ s my patient . I know it ’ s my patient . I need to be there .

Soon , it was time for me to join the rest of my classmates . In case I did not return after lunch , I said
I was almost in shock as my brain shifted between the image in front of me and the image that had played out before I left . Not even an hour prior , I watched cartoons with this patient and asked him about his favorite Paw Patrol character . The lights were low , and a projector pointed at the ceiling displayed neon stars and moons . Now , every single light in the room was illuminated as various healthcare professionals from all over the hospital desperately worked to save his life . Pharmacy technicians
30 NSNA Imprint