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Chaos, Panic, Relief

, , , , , | Healthy | March 20, 2021

I’m a student nurse out for a three-week practicum on a high-acuity hospital ward. Through sheer bad luck, during the first week us students are there, there are a lot of medical emergencies: cardiac arrests, patients found unconscious, comas, and vital sign measurements dangerously out of normal range. On one particular day, the emergency alarm goes off four different times, sending the whole staff running to help and sometimes taking hours to resolve with a whole team present.

Come 2:00 pm, we’re all frazzled and exhausted. Just as we sit down to write the notes for the shift of chaos, from behind the nurses’ station we hear a desperate cry: “Oh, my God, help me! Somebody help! [Nurse], help me!”

Once again, we all go running. A couple of the staff get there before me, and as they arrive on the scene I hear a crowd start laughing, as if someone has fallen for a prank, and the staff who ran to help look relieved and then disperse. I vaguely recall a passing comment I overheard at 7:00 this morning: there was going to be a CPR training happening that day that we had forgotten about because we knew we’d be too busy.

Mystery solved! All was well, everyone was safe! They’re just running a scenario!

Except the CPR training is being run by and for experienced hospital clinicians, and they are all extremely familiar with what a realistic medical emergency sounds like and aren’t afraid to show it.

They somehow manage to last for ten minutes with loud, dramatic, distressed hyperventilating, with the occasional, “Help me!” and, “Oh, no, she’s unconscious! What are you going to do?!” and, “Get help!” 

All the while, the rest of us are huddled down in the nursing station trying to write our notes and failing to tune out the sound of very realistic respiratory distress happening a few meters away.

For some reason, we don’t find that particularly calming after our adrenaline-filled day.

Hopefully The OBGYN Forgives You

, , , , , | Right | March 11, 2021

I work in a small hospital as a switchboard operator. My office deals with all incoming, outgoing, and internal calls, we act as the answering service for all the doctors associated with the hospital, and we track and call all codes and alarms.

Me: “[Hospital], this is [Ny Name]; how may I help you?”

Caller: “I need to talk to my doctor.”

Me: “What is the name of your doctor?”

Caller: “I don’t know; you need to look it up!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t have that ability. There is no database listing the patients of each doctor associated with us.” 

I try to help him remember.

Me: “Where is the office located?”

Caller: “Upstairs.”

I literally look up, thinking, “That’s radiology.”

Me: “Upstairs of what building? There are multiple buildings on our campus.”

Caller: *Getting belligerent* “Of the hospital. What are you, stupid?”

Me: “Sir, there are no doctors’ offices in the main hospital building. Do you know which office building it is located in?”

Caller: “Why can’t you just look it up and tell me who my doctor is? Stop being a b**** and just tell me who my doctor is.”

It is standard policy at this hospital that if a caller becomes rude or swears at us on the phone, we are allowed to hang up on them.  

Instead of hanging up, I transferred him to an office I KNEW was not the one he wanted: the OBGYN.

She’d Be Swelling With Pride

, , , , | Healthy | March 9, 2021

I’m at the hospital.

Little Boy: “Why aren’t you wearing a mask?”

Me: “Oh, hi, kid. The masks don’t fit me right now. Can you go back to your mum? I can’t talk well right now.”

Little Boy: “Mummy says that everyone has to wear a mask.”

Me: “Normally she’d be right, but the doctor has given me special permission just this once.”

Little Boy: “But Mummy says that people who don’t wear masks are selfish b*****ds.”

Me: “Go back to your mummy and I’m sure she’ll explain it. I can’t fit into the masks right now.”

Little Boy: “Why not?”

Me: “Because my face is all swollen up, see?”

Little Boy: “Isn’t that what you normally look like?”

Me: “No?”

Little Boy: “Oh, all right, then.”

In the mother’s defence, the woman he wandered back to was trying to comfort a little girl with a lot of blood on her face. I think she was a bit preoccupied to realise what had happened.

Kindness Is Stronger Than A Bike Lock

, , , , , | Friendly | March 5, 2021

After leaving work one night after a run of three exhausting shifts in a hospital, I find that my brand-new mountain bike has had the lock cut through and been stolen. Understandably, I am furious.

I report it as stolen, put in an insurance claim, and wait, other than posting on various social media pages on the off chance anyone saw anything. Obviously, this reaches more than my immediate friends on social media; a few days later, I get a message from a complete stranger saying he has a bike he wants to give me after hearing what has happened!

Faith in humanity restored!


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for March 2021!

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Read the Feel Good roundup for March 2021!

You’ll Knock That Migraine Out Real Good

, , | Healthy | March 5, 2021

I get migraines that can take me out for days. Before the headache sets in, I lose sensation in the left side of my body, followed by nausea and vomiting, and then tunnel vision. It is impossible for me to work when it gets to this point, so I try to take care of it as soon as the first symptoms start.

I get to work early to set up and start losing sensation in my neck and shoulder on the left. I immediately take all the meds my doctor tells me to, hoping it’s not too late. I ask the front desk to cancel my first client so I can go to the urgent care next door and see if they can do anything.

I turn off a few lights in the exam room to ease the pain and try to focus on the poster in front of me. It is a PSA on “How to prescribe opioids properly.” I grew up in a place where opioid addiction is an epidemic and have lost many friends to overdoses.

The doctor finally comes in and switches on all the lights.

Doctor: “I’m going to give you something for the nausea and twenty-two Percocet.”

I stare at him in disbelief. Twenty-two Percocet for a migraine? He sees my look.

Doctor: “Okay, twenty-four, then, and here’s a note for work.”

I was too upset and flabbergasted to say much more but I took the scripts and left. I went back to work and explained what had happened and that I needed to go home. One of my coworkers offered to sell my script! 

I lost it on them and took an Uber home and just slept it off. I just couldn’t believe the doctor’s reaction or my coworker’s lack of awareness.