I got stuck with a dirty needle at work the other day.
After poking a sweet little man in the arm with his afternoon dose of assfart, I stuck my left index finger while closing the “safety” needle protector with my aforementioned left index finger. I know better of course, but in my lazy taking things for granted state of mind, I sloppily did what we nurses know to never do. Never close the safety needle protector with your body, that’s just dangerous and sloppy nursing…. use the bed rail, the wall, anything but your delicate self as a tool. This dangerous and sloppy nurse felt the teeny prick, and then she felt a sudden flame start a fire in her mind. ….uh-oh!
I went straight to the sink and squeezed my finger hard, making the blood rush out of the invisible hole in my flesh, rinsing and scrubbing, squeezing and repeating. I knew this sweet man’s history, so I wasn’t really worried about contracting a disease , but I was afraid of the stories that I had already been inoculated with throughout the years. AIDS, Hepatitis C. and the lesser B…endless blood draws and pill popping, and of course….possible death from contracting one of these blood borne pathogens. I thought about not mentioning it…… but then I did mention it, and I was promptly talked into squealing by other well-meaning nurses….of course I understand, but I was 99.9% certain that I hadn’t been infected with anything besides new responsibilities to fill out paperwork and have my blood drawn. I’m not sure why I was so annoyed by this process, I was bothered by what I felt to be a waste of time and resources…and later I was a bit peeved at having to know if I had AIDS or hepatitis C. Maybe that moment of sloppy dangerous nursing was divine intervention leading me to rat myself out, get tested, and find out that while my patient didn’t give me any diseases…I already had one! And I find out just in time to get the treatment I need to live a few more years to see the world get flipped upside down and help to birth The Age of Aquarius into the minds of the still living……before succumbing to a conscious death which comes while I am laying in the arms of my beloved chanting OM MANI PADME HUM….
While blabbering about my needle stick, other nurses are sharing their own stories of needle sticks, blood draws and false syphilis indicators. Somehow, in this bluster of story telling the subject comes up….code status and advanced directives. Most of them have already thought this through and taken steps to secure that should there come a time when they are physically or mentally injured, and unable to speak for themselves……..the speaking would be done for them through a trusted friend or family member, and through an orange slice of paper if they decide to choose Do Not Resuscitate, ( let me go , don’t try anything heroic, thank you) Then there’s Do Not Resuscitate with limits, ( no intubation, no drugs, chest compression only, drugs only…any variety of these and others could fall here under limits….) or Full Code ( do it all, whatever it takes, I’d rather be vegetable soup than DEAD…SAVE ME NO MATTER WHAT…) One of these nurses carries her orange paper with her wherever she goes, and when she is home it goes on her refrigerator to let the paramedics know.
My co-workers are stunned that I haven’t thought about my code status. ” Kate, you are such a processor…I’m surprised you haven’t thought about this….” ” The Kate I KNOW has thought about her code status…” I am so disturbed by my forgetting to think about my code status, that I have to ask my friends to give me some space with this, because, I too am surprised….I can’t focus on my charting…I’m obsessing. Who would be my medical power of attorney? This is pretty easy, my sister, who is also a nurse, and a pretty good reader of me…. I send her a text message so she knows she is about to be awarded MPOA status, she fires the same responsibility back at me. BUT…what if I’m in a coma…and I tell her while I’m not in a coma, that I don’t want to be in a coma, and please don’t let them feed me or try to keep me alive longer than my body naturally wants to be…and then I’m actually IN A COMA..and it is FUCKING AWESOME??? What if I’m hanging out in heaven with angels and rainbows and fountains flowing with liquid love? What if I change my mind and I’m not able to communicate these wishes? Should I indicate in my living will that should this happen, a very powerful psychic should be consulted to communicate with my comatose self? No….I should train my sister…she already has the psychic gene and she is my MPOA so…she can do double duty…I send her a text message letting her know that we need to practice, and quick, think of a color between one and ten! Blue 247… !
I go to talk to our unit educator and supervisor to get their opinion on the subject, and they both laugh and share they both just recently printed up all the required paperwork to make these difficult decisions legal. They’ve thought about it too. I get the website and print up the tome….my mind is too full to decide…mental health power of attorney? I feel like that should be my friend Yvonne for some reason….we are crazy in the same ways…she can manage and see through my insanity to the truth. Check!
I coded a 59 year old man on Camelback mountain when I had only been a nurse for 6 months. We did compressions and rescue breathing for 40 minutes before the paramedics were dropped on the side of the mountain equipped with lines, drugs,and fluids….He took his last breath in my arms…right when I found him sitting on a rock, just about to topple over, he let out the last of the air in his body and collapsed. He never took another, but we pounded on him like he just might. His wife came down from the top…shattered…. and we took turns compressing his dead chest and holding her heaving heart center. The head paramedic was on the phone with an ER doctor, they had the man on a heart monitor….his heart was dying, and the ER doctor explained via the paramedic that even if they could get him back, he wouldn’t have much quality of life…what did she want to do? She let him go…she spoke for him…she knew his wishes, or maybe they were hers. I don’t know.
I see a lot of death and I’ve thought a lot about death. Death is a reality for me, not something I run around pretending won’t happen to me…I’ve thought about my own death…a lot. I’ve had long conversations with my nurse friends comparing our preferred way of being off-ed ( a gun shot, car accident, while sleeping 🙂 ) ….what the worst way to go would be ( cancer, drowning, buried alive….) And of course I’ve contemplated what happens next, in the great mystery…. My Mom died while on dialysis, which one of my nursing instructors stated during a lecture was “the best way to go”….this gave me great comfort unbeknownst to her.
But I haven’t thought much about my code status until now….I’m still not sure… I guess I would want in death the same thing I want in life…Peace Sweet Peace…and I’m not sure a code status can guarantee me this…in life it requires surrender..I wonder if it’s the same in death?
My needle prick labs are pending…my code status is pending. So much is pending……
Take it away GOD! 🙂