As an emergency room nurse, I was pretty successful. But I wanted more…. so I took a position in the Respiratory Therapy department when they had an opening. It was a pretty cool deal – I was a nurse so I had the foundation classes already done. In order to get certified as a respiratory therapy technician, I completed a correspondence course and took the state test. While I was working on that, I was able to work and the company paid for my training. Nifty!
Ventilators, breathing treatments (nebulizers & such), EKGs, EEGs, blood gases, CPR… exciting stuff. We worked 8 hour shifts with no overnights – unless there was someone in the hospital that was on a ventilator. If that was the case, we had stay overnight (11p-7a) and check on the ventilator every 2 hours. In between checks, we could sleep or whatever as long as we were on site. When there was no ventilator patients, we were on call… it rotated between the 4 employees so each of us was on call for a week every 4 weeks. Great Gig!
Sometime in 1989 I was on call… I was sleeping with A when the phone rang in the middle of the night. It was the ER nurse telling me I needed to come in and set up a vent for a new patient. A was 4 years old so I packed her up, in her jammies, and off we went.
When I arrived in the ER everyone was looking at me kind of funny, and some were out right laughing at me. Bear in mind, there is a very critical patient that they are bagging because she’s not breathing on her own. They have to keep doing that until I get a ventilator all set up and ready to go…..
I walked down to my office, got a vent and pushed it into ICU. The whole time I am thinking about what I’ve done that is so funny that they would be laughing at me like they were. And somewhere, in the back of my brain, something was niggling at me. I just couldn’t really put a finger on it…..
It took me about 20 minutes to set up the ventilator, and make all the adjustments and settings based on the doctor’s orders. I get this done and as I was walking back to the ER, it dawns on me that I had received TWO phone calls from the ER….
The first phone call is the comical one….
I had been sleeping… REALLY DEEP sleep… and when the ER nurse called me and told me I needed to come in… my response?
#000000;">“I can’t right now… the cocoa puff man is here”
“THE COCOA PUFF MAN! And I can’t leave him here alone”
“Why not? We really need you to get in here.”
“He is not finished working- when he’s done I’ll be there”
“What is he doing?”
completely exasperated I say “HE’S PUTTING COCOA PUFFS ON THE SHELF!”
and I hang up…..
they called a second time, and that time I was awakened fully… they request my presence and I rush right over….
I NEVER lived down that night. I was reminded of it frequently…..
In the end, the ventilator was set up, the patient was moved to ICU and cared for…. all’s well that ends well!