Tomorrow is my Mom's birthday (40th, of course!). We got to have dinner together tonight (cooked by my sister who is only 6 weeks postpartum), and I was telling her a story from work I was reminded of how much of who I am as a nurse I owe to her. My sister and I are lucky to have an awesome Mom and Dad, but tonight's post is about our Mom.
Yesterday at work I had a patient in his 60s, with minimal cardiac risk factors, who came in with chest pain. His cardiac enzymes (which indicate heart attack) were negative, but his Electrocardiogram (ECG) was a bit abnormal. Since he didn't have any further chest pain, I reviewed the ECG with the cardiologist and we decided to proceed with the test. The patient had sneakers which looked broken in and muddy. He was slender and fit- low suspicion for heart disease. That being said, I prepped him before the test. I told him that his ECG was abnormal and that it might be significant or it might mean nothing. I told him that if he developed chest pain, it would be an indication we needed to stop the test sooner rather than later.
The test started well...we chatted, he walked. Less than three minutes in, he developed chest pain. His ECG began to change. It became the ECG of the patient who is having THE BIG ONE. This is the "Oh S#$t" moment that I've had only once before in 6 years of doing stress tests. This is the moment you wonder how you will handle...you prep for it but you never know. I went into autopilot. I calmly stopped the test, got him laying down, gave him nitroglycerin, and called the cardiologist. Thankfully I work with an awesome team and we got this patient back to being pain free. I prepped him for transfer for cardiac catheterization (an invasive procedure to find and repair blocked arteries), called his wife, stayed with him to monitor him, and breathed a sigh of relief. I was off of work today, but apparently he called to say thank you. He got a stent in one of the arteries in his heart and was discharged from the hospital. Because he listened to his body and his symptoms, and came to the hospital, he avoided a potentially fatal heart attack.
So I was telling my Mom this story, and she told me how proud she was of me. If only there were words to convey how much of who I am as a nurse practitioner I owe to her. At 16, I volunteered in her Emergency Room. I learned from her and her coworkers. Even before then, I learned that you never know when you are taking care of the family member of a friend. To treat everyone as if they are your family...no matter how difficult they are. I did CPR before I was 18. I dealt with things many people don't deal with until much later in life....and I learned the lessons that stay with me now.
-Talk to people...explain what is happening...sometimes that means more than anything.
-Think critically, act calmly
-and when all else fails, call your Mom for advice
Most of all, I thank my mother for deciding at 22 (married and graduating nursing school) to work full time and embrace the daughter she hadn't quite planned upon. I am so thankful for all you and Dad have done for me.
Thank you, Mom. For being an amazing Mother, grandmother,role model, "What Would Kyle Do?" hotline, and wonderful friend.