Once a Nurse, Always a Nurse
I have been a caregiver for I would say, 40 years now, in one form or another. Caring for family members has been my biggest job, behind that is my profession as an RN and working as a staff nurse in a local hospital for 29 years.
I retired from my “job” and then became interested in Nurse writing, or health content, journalistic writing such as “JBinfordRNwriter, ‘The nurse writer for all healthcare things’.”
As a healthcare worker and a nurse, my job doesn’t shut down when I’m out and about. I think all nurses will agree—once a nurse always a nurse—you assess everyone and are aware of any major (or minor) health problems. It happens naturally to me; I find that if I’m near an elderly person I watch to see if they have any deficits when up and walking and I am sort of preparing to catch them if they stumble. I know this happens to other nurses, it’s not just me.
My point is that when you are a health care worker or first responder, you are just aware of others’ physical and mental issues automatically, assessment is automatic. If you’ve been on the job for 30 years, you can’t turn it off. Similar to a police officer I would imagine. They assess situations wherever they go, and I assess people and try to diagnose disorders wherever I go.
As a caregiver, I experienced my first traumatic auto accident last night. I was at a car show and as a beautiful 1950s VW Beetle was driving away from the field, the driver lost control of the wheel and hit a huge maple tree. A cloud of black smoke filled the air, and I didn’t quite fathom the wreck. “Did he wreck?” I asked the person closest to me, who was also looking in horror at the cloud in the road, “Yeah, he wrecked.” I turn north, judge the distance to the fence and decide it’s too far away, the car is south of me.
There is a high steel panel fence surrounding the Field of Dreams, the field where the car cruise is being held. I turn south and there is a man running by in an orange (rust-colored) lightweight jacket. It’s weird how the senses get heightened at this state of alertness when you are entering into an unknown scene where you will be administering aid essentially unprepared. Except for your training and mental faculties. This is a unique aspect of being a caregiver, like I said previously, you are on alert ready to help anyone who has a health problem. Sometimes, you really don’t want to do it either. There is that whole aspect that can be another story.
Anyway, I am running south along the gravel drive, past the burrito truck that makes excellent food btw, and decide that this fence is way too long to run around. I knew I could climb the fence, I knew what the fence was made of, and I have it all around my farm. I say to the rusty jacket in front of me, “I’m going to jump the fence.” It was a suggestion, I was actually hoping he was too. He was running in front of me and there was no way he was getting to that smashed car within 5 minutes. It was that far down and back. There wasn’t time. This beetle slammed hard and was still engulfed in the cloud when I came over the fence (with the help of the post for support.) As I rounded the car, I looked at the trunk, that’s really the hood, half was gone, maybe ¾ and as I came up to the driver’s side, I saw the driver on the pavement. He was breathing and his eyes were open, Hallelujah! Great first sign!
There were 2 gentlemen in front of me, beyond the patient. I saw him as my patient/victim of an auto accident. I think these 2 guys were coming around the corner when he hit the tree. They were on their way to the field. I looked at them, they were in shock, just coming upon this probably watching it happen not really knowing what to do. More cars were coming toward us and one of the guys went to stop them.
As I knelt down next to this man, he started to move his head. He came out of the car onto his head, and I had to get it up off the ground. I had to keep his airway clear, he was breathing, but had a major concussion and I needed to get his head stabilized and protect the airway. After gently lifting his head, I cradled him in my hands and asked for his rubber crock-type sandals that were on the ground, to rest my hands on as I held his head.
He kept breathing and kept talking to him. His eyes were open, but he was non-responsive, and occasionally struggling. The guy helping me told me he was a medic in the service. That’s not how he said it, I think he said armed forces. He was Hispanic, I would guess Mexican and had a beautiful jacket on. What is this with jackets? It was also a rusty orangish with autumnal colors, a southwestern Indian type of print. I don’t know what it’s called. He knelt down with me and held our patients’ left hand. The right was right next to me, and the wrist obviously broken. I felt for a pulse-duh, he’s breathing, but I wanted to see if it was steady, or thready. It was steady, and he was breathing, and I was trying to console him. Sooth him and keep him as little agitated as possible. I have trained for years at this. I am a caregiver, I’ve got this.
I was bloody, holding his wound, trying to keep it all intact, and not moving. I remember saying, “You’re going to be all right, we’ve called the ambulance, they’re on their way, you’re doing really good, now just try to relax…” Then I think, “Did I just say that? Really? Try to relax?” As we waited on the road, the patient’s legs were still up in the car, but I could see his feet, and I knew this was the best possible position for him, legs elevated for blood pressure, we want the least strain on the heart and laying with feet elevated helps circulation when bleeding, and possible hypotension.
After a few minutes, circumventing the fences, 3 people showed up at our side, they were all EMTs. Two of them were retired men (they told me) and the third was a woman that said she used to be an EMT for the fire department. They got a bunch of paper towels, as we had nothing to sop up the blood and clean his face, they helped until the fire department got there a few minutes later.
Our patient gave us his name right before the spinal collar was put on, and he was stabilized on a backboard and taken to our local trauma center. He is going to recover thank God! He has some internal injuries but is under great care and on his road to recovery.
This accident that happened showed me that healthcare workers, and caregivers, are always willing to take on the role. They will step in when needed, by friends, loved ones, and even strangers. When they come together for humanity, in times of need, they are a gift, a blessing, and a people that are meant to be cherished. For without them, where would we be? There are plenty of people that would like to help and be a caregiver, most can’t stomach it. I’m not saying that to be rude, it’s the truth that as much as some people would love to help, for whatever reason they can’t.
The world needs more caregivers. Not just healthcare workers, or first responders, but people that care, are willing, and aware of others in need.