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Nurse Carlos


I am joining Sunday Whirligig today, using the some of the word prompts assigned. I am writing a short story inspired by my experience as a nurse. This is my first try.

It's been slow in intensive care unit this week but not today. It is Thursday. I knew it even before hitting my floor as the employee parking lot is almost full.

"Carlos, I am giving you this patient with GI bleed (gastrointestinal bleed).

Immediately, I admitted Mrs. P from the emergency department (ED) to an ICU (intensive care unit) bed. Her blood count is normal but per her report, she started throwing up blood several times since she took 600 mg of Advil six times in a day four days ago for left arm pain.

From the ED, she received liters of normal saline through her intervenous access (IV) and the first blood just got started.

The GI lab nurse called me. "Can we come up at 11 to start setting  up for endoscopy in the (ICU) room."

"You can come up now." It was 10:30 am.

"But we don't want to get in the way of your admission."

Admitting a patient takes time. We have to take history, ask pages and pages of questions,  enter the data in the system, assess the patient, et ce te ra.

"That is OK. Patient's needs come first." She is not critical but I thought, heck, the GI team is ready. I would take them when I can.

Mrs. P  started as stable to very unstable before our eyes.

Two hours of long endoscopy, and more administration of liters of saline and units of blood, the team gave up as they could not see the source of bleed. They were suctioning blood, alright, but the exact source could not be scoped. Her blood pressure stayed low. She required intubation. We are going to the interventional radiology (IR) to look for the bleeding source.

I left her there with respiratory therapist and the whole interventional radiology team. It is now 4:30 pm. Starving, I  walk back to my unit. I can finally take my overdue break.

The nurse's lounge has Panera cookies and fresh fruit bouquet waiting just for me. OK, they are not just for me but they look great.

It is late. This is more like supper. My arms and legs feel weak.

I had great desserts to end my break with pork chops I brought from home.

Shortly, the IR team comes wheeling Mrs. P back to ICU. They found two small arteries in her esophagus that needed to be embolized. They fixed them and she is now stable.

My charge nurse reported that Mrs. P's ex-husband called during my break and complained to her that I did not call back to give an update. Apparently, he brought her to the ED, and he wants to be called at home for an update.

"He called? I did not get the message and Mrs. P said (when she was still able to talk) that her son is her only main contact. The residents have phoned this son  about the recent events."

Soon, her son came and visited just in time for the good news. He knew up to the point that his mother was brought to the IR but that was all.

I am sorry my patient's ex-husband was not notified but Mrs. P is doing better now. It must be stressful waiting at home wondering what is happening. I cannot help but wonder, though, what is he doing at home?

 Back in the room,  Mrs. P's son expressed a lot of gratitude to me and the team. This is the picture I want to take home.

 It feels great to go home and know that my patient is finally stable (for now). I hit my goal for my shift. Tonight, I don't have to drink my favorite wine.


  1. What a great picture you have drawn of life in Intensive care. I almost feel that by writing this it is also therapeutic for yourself. I look forward to reading your future writing too.

  2. Writing about nursing is therapeutic yes.

  3. I came back here to read this story before reading your new Six Sentence Story. I know I am going to like this series because it mirrors the stories I hear from my daughter, a nightshift RN at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville. I don't think most people realize how challenging, difficult and exhausting this job is, the long hours it involves, and how often it is difficult to please families no matter how hard you try. A good night is exactly when you can go home and not feel defeated. XOXO I will be following along for more of these!

  4. Thank you, Josie. We can't please everyone. But if I make one or two people smile in a shift, that is gold. We know hospital is usually not a happy place.


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