I was taking a patient upstairs the other day from the ER, and I got into an elevator that had two other nurses in surgical scrubs. We smiled at each other, and they kindly made small talk with my patient. They then began to continue the conversation they were having before I got on the elevator. They were talking about their weekend plans. The one nurse was saying how her daughter had a birthday party to go to and she needed to get things done around the house. She went on to talk about her plans with family and such. Finally, the other nurse sighed and said with a negative tone “I’m on call….” She went on to talk about how tired of it she was and how you can’t plan anything because of it. I didn’t have time to tell her what I’m about to share with yall, but it was kind of a big deal for me to at least say it via blog post, and pray that this gets to her.
My Dad is probably one of the COOLEST people you will ever meet. He has a heart of gold, can fix anything, and is just a joy to be around. He is the father of 3 loving girls and an amazing husband to a beautiful woman, my mom. Growing up, my dad was the type that spent the weekend playing with his daughters. He took us on bike rides to watch the boats come in at the dock. He made us Nachos and Cheese while he and my mom mowed the lawn on Saturday morning. He told us really ridiculous “ Tommy and Billy” stories when we were little (He made them up :)). We all had Indian Princess nick-names and he would act out a story with us in character. What’s even more amazing is that he grew with us. He taught me how to play guitar. He supported his girls all through college, even though he never attended. He was at every wedding and graduation, walking all 3 of us down the isle. My Dad is simply amazing!
On January 12th, 2015, I received a phone call that I will never forget. I was in orientation for my new job, and my mom just kept calling. That wasn’t like her. I stepped out of the room and called her back. I knew the minute she picked up and I heard her voice, something wasn’t right. “Kels, Daddy had a giant heart attack. He’s in the operating room right now.” By operating room, she was referring to the cath lab. My heart just just sunk and every bit of me fell to the ground. I love my Dad so much, and neither one of my parents have ever had health issues or been hospitalized before. I collected myself, touched base with my manager, and I headed home. I packed my bags and drove 14 hours to South Florida, despite my moms wishes for me to not drive! (She always stresses about that stuff!) As a nurse and daughter, it just simply wasn’t an option.
When I arrived at the hospital, I found my dad in the ICU with oxygen in his nose, a bag of Amiodorone & fluids running, and my mom by his side. I pushed aside his curtain and jokingly said, “Excuse me sir, can you rate your pain for me?” trying to make light of the scary situation. His eyes and my mom’s lit up because they had no clue I was coming down. My sisters and I collectively decided someone needed to go down to Florida, and it was going to be me. It was absolutely bittersweet! Seeing my dad hooked up to everything and breathing heavy was so hard for me, BUT HE WAS ALIVE!! My Dad was alive and breathing well. It was the best feeling in the world to see and hug that man! (I’m totally tearing up writing this). My mom was relieved I was there, too. I found out that my dad had a STEMI (ST ELEVATED MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION). His Troponin was 74!!! Troponin is a protein that is released when cardiac tissue dies! For those of you in nursing school or newer to nursing, I highly recommend that you check out my sweet friends Kati Kelber’s FreshRN Cardiac Crash Course to better understand the Cardiac Process and education about caring for cardiac patients like my dad (and there is SO much other cardiac goodness that will break down difficult concepts into easy to understandable terms)! He ended up receiving 5 stents! I found out that he was out running and started having chest pain at home. He DROVE HIMSELF to the ER and because of his symptoms, they brought him back immediately. They ACTIVATED the CODE STEMI and called the team in.
I’m not sure what those nurses were doing that afternoon. Some of them were most likely with family, doing something close to home. Some of them were doing things they like to do to relax: going to the gym, getting their nails done, coffee with a friend etc.. Some of them may have just been sleeping from the exhaustion of being on call everyday, along with their full time work schedule. I’m not sure what they were doing, but I do know one thing. They weren’t happy when that beeper went off the day my dad had his heart attack. ALL of those nurses had to drop what they were doing and get to the hospital ASAP.
Your presence saved my dads life. Your individualized skills that allowed you to carefully intervene that day, saved my dad’s life. Your knowledge to set up, prepare, intervene, and recover patients in the cath lab saved my dad’s life. You guys have a job that no other nurse (untrained) knows how to do. You have a job that impacts families in ways that I don’t think you truly understand nor comprehend fully. You have a job that you should take pride in, because I have no flippin idea how to do what you do! All I know is that by you becoming a nurse and acquiring the skills that it takes to be a successful cath lab nurse and intervene in the most efficient and safe manner, saved my Dad’s life!
If it wasn’t for you guys being trained and taking call that day, my dad would not be here. That Doctor could not have done all of that on his own. My Dad is now alive and talks about his experience ALL of the time! He talks about how amazing you all were and how you helped him through the anxiety of what was going on. He thought he was going to die that day and was thinking about our family. It was life changing for him in so many ways. I love my dad more than words can express and I tear up at the thought of him not being here! You guys saved his life, and on behalf of him and my family, we say THANK YOU!
For all of you nurses out there who take call. Majority being the OR, cath lab, and Labor and Delivery, you guys are heros! I don’t personally know what it’s like to take call, but I know having your scheduled ripped out of your hands is not fun! I know taking call after call and then having to go into your full time shift can lead to a fatigue that many will never experience or understand. But I want to tell you this. I will FOREVER be grateful for what you do, and how you drop everything to be in place when that beeper goes off. There are many people out there who don’t understand how the whole “on call” thing works. It’s not like nurses in the OR and Cath lab are just waiting around for MI’s and bad things to happen. They wake up at wee hours in the night when they have to, to come save our loved ones! They are committed to this. It’s not easy.
Thank you to every single nurse out there who has committed to taking call when I know it’s hard at times. Just remember, ALL of your patients have families like mine. And the lives you deal with in these emergent situations have no replacement. So when you save them, you save a family! And to that nurse in the Elevator, thank you for committing to what you do and inspiring me! You guys are all simply amazing. THANK YOU!
(Side Note: I would also like to thank EVERYONE involved in these on call processes! I am aware that it is not just nurses! To the techs, scrubs, RT’s, lab perosnel, and to the Doctors, you all are simply amazing and thank you for what you do! My heart in this blog is specifically geared toward nurses, and that is who I write to! I would like to take this opportunity to extend thanks to the WHOLE enitre team! I dedicate this blog to nurse Rudy and his team in the cath lab at Wellington Regional Medical Center in South FL! Thank you for your care of my dad, and Dr.Vedere for your hands on his life that day! I am forever thankful for what you ALL do!)