"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

EKGing it up!

So, a lot has happened lately!

FIRST OFF, I got the job! Woot! I officially start there on Monday, it is a med/surg position still, which is great because I need my two years and I like the constant variety... However it will be a weekend night position. What's that? You basically strike a deal with the devil and agree you will be there 2 nights, every single weekend except TWO per the entire year...but that's it. You get off 5 days per week, work the weekends and get paid more. I see it as a win!

But anyway, at this new hospital I will be responsible for my own EKG readings. For my non-medical readers, an EKG is a test involving 12 little stickers or "leads" that are placed on your chest, legs and arms to monitor the amount of electricity through your body conducted by your heart, which is displayed on a strip piece of paper and we can see the type of rhythm your heart is making. By knowing this rhythm, we know what's wrong with your heart and what part of your heart isn't working.

So! Here I am, a one-year RN going from a med/surg unit where I never had to worry (much) about heart rhythms to a unit where I will be responsible for my own. Yikes! I skip completely over the unit where they have techs to watch the monitors and tell you what they mean. *sigh*

The first time I floated down to that unit, my cardiology unit in my hospital here, I first asked my old preceptor, "do you have any really important advice to give that I should know about cardiology?"

She looked at me very seriously as she nodded, got a piece of paper out and drew this:

As she drew that line she said, "if you see this, it's not good."

Of course she was kidding. Well, sort of kidding. Partially kidding. Only in the aspect where every nurse (or really anyone every that's watched a medical show on tv in general) knows that a flat line is never good. So that pro founding bit of advice wasn't exactly that helpful.

But I learned quickly. And whatever you don't know in nursing, you quickly get someone that does know.

But being that I have the type of brain that loves to do math, figure out mysteries, do busiwork, etc., I found that I fell in love with trying to figure out each rhythm. It was like a puzzle.

I finally finished the class and all of the sudden I feel 200% more competent as an RN. No more constant dread that I can't competently take care of cardiac patients. I can look at the tele monitor now and understand who is in critical condition, when to call the doctor, what to do about certain rhythms. It feels amazing to connect those synapses in your brain when things coming together, applying knowledge you gathered in nursing school to knowledge you learned on the field to knowledge you regain after like this, on top of the clinical knowledge.

For example when I came on shift recently, I looked at my patient on the monitor. I had asked the nurse taking care of him prior what rhythm was his normal, and they had trouble reading it so they had to move his room to better wireless area. So I was the first to read his rhythm. I looked at it and right away thought, "that's a.fib". My heart threw a PVC (haha), and I thought "shit! My patients in a. Fib!" but then I remembered the basics. 1) assess my patient. 2) assess the heart rate (is the heart able to accommodate or control the a fib? 3) does the patient have a known history of the a.fib? 4) does be doctor know about the a.fib happening on this hospital stay?

Luckily, they were all in my favor. My patient was not symptomatic. His heart rate was under control. He had a history of the a.fib, and the doctor already knew because they saw it during surgery earlier that hospital stay. So all I had to do was continue to monitor my patient, monitor the heart rate, make sure it doesn't enter an uncontrolled rhythm. The reason I bore you with this story is to show you (or myself ) that before this class, I would have freaked out if my patient was in a. Fib because that's a scary term and I wouldn't know the difference of good or bad a.fib....but now, I am competent enough to understand the heart enough to see that rhythm on the monitor and not have to 1) initially freak out 2) enter a bout of colitis because I would be stressed all shift about it until my patient went normal sinus (the normal heart rhythm).

With every bout of learning I learn, I love nursing more and more. The days I hate nursing are the days I feel incompetent. Those are the days I feel stressed. I don't mind having a completely shitty, busy as all hell day, whatever bring it on. But the minute I feel like I aren't good enough to care for my patient, that's when I feel that I hate nursing and can't wait for my shift to end. But when I feel like I can take care of my patients no matter what and can help other nurses even, I love my job. I love being able to feel confident. It's empowering and it makes me want to learn more, more, more. Soon I will be taking an ACLS class, which would further my certification to enable me to take care of more critical patients. During code-blue situations I would be able to push life-saving drugs into patients. I can work in the ICU or the ER with this certification. So, that's pretty cool and up and coming.

I finally have fully functioning power back and at least 134,342,114 posts ready to write, so look forward to that! Hopefully I still have readers =)

Love you all, thanks for reading.


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