I can easily say that February 15th was the most memorable day of my nursing career thus far. However, it is without a doubt in my mind, without Patrick’s actions, the day would have been memorable for all the wrong reasons.
I had been caring for a patient in the SICU for three days when suddenly things took a turn for the worst. The patient had been admitted to the hospital a few days prior, pregnant at the time. My twenty-nine-year-old patient, whom previously lacked a medical history, had delivered her second child at 35 weeks via C-section and was post-op day one from a craniotomy by Monday morning. Somewhere during 9 and 10 am, my third neurological exam provided to be intact. She was moving all extremities, her pupils were equal and brisk, and she was her spunky self with me in conversation. Ten minutes following my exam, her family members had asked me to the room to wipe her mouth as she was drooling. Although her vital signs appeared stable and her monitor not alarming, I looked at her realizing immediately something was wrong- she grew more cyanotic by the second. She was unresponsive, suddenly apneic, and I opened her eyes to find fixed and dilated pupils. I yelled for help, anesthesia, and for someone to call the surgeons. Patrick our ACL, was the first to the room. She wasn’t responding to ventilation with the ambu-bag and her heart rate began to Brady down quickly. He yelled for an oral airway, inserted it, and began to bag her again until anesthesia arrived. Miraculously, she never lost her pulse. Her heart rate came up, she was intubated; we ran her to CT scan and then emergently rushed her into the OR. The team that surrounded me that day was incredible: our PCT, HUC, respiratory therapist, nurses CRNAs, neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, CT and OR staff. Second to none. However, as I emotionally made my way back to the unit from the operating room, it was Patrick that I felt the most grateful for. What had maybe been 20 minutes to the OR doors, felt like hours. Probably appearing defeated, he looked at me and said, “she’s young, you never know, she could very well pull through”. She came back to me in the unit Monday afternoon intubated. The neurosurgeons decompressed her brain after we had found her presumably mid-herniation. Today, she is extubated and asking her husband/family and I questions about her son at home, and new daughter in the NICU. Not out of the woods, but presenting completely neurologically intact- a recovery that had seemed unfathomable at the time. Without Patrick at her bedside in that instant I yelled for help, there’s not a doubt in my mind that the patient would have coded and their baby would be without her mother.
Monday was just one mere example of Patrick’s character, but a memory that I will keep close by for a while. He’s our ACL; but even more so, he’s our co-worker. Whether he’s in staffing, in charge at home, in meetings, or covering SWAT, he is present and 200% willing to help. One would never know of the difficult hand he’s recently been dealt with his family’s health; for, I have never witnessed self-pity or outward frustration from him. HE is professional in the workplace by accepting obstacles as they present to him, and simply making the most of them. Always laughing and rarely serious, he brings humor to SICU when you need it most. He’s always the first to offer help, whether it’s a question about a procedure, a patient’s health, or something going on at home. He’s trustworthy, honest, and respectful. Patrick had deserved recognition for his work ethic and his character long before I was even a part of the team in SI, and I’m hopeful that he receives it. In my eyes he saved my patient’s life that day; but, if you were to ask him, he would humbly reply he was just doing his job.