Sunday, November 11, 2007


i was proud that i had everything ready to start his IV and draw blood at the bedside. the patient was four months old, maybe five, he was there for a bad case of diarrhea. i'd carefully taken the time to explain to the parents how it was going to go down. we were all prepared. i grabbed a light to find the veins in his hands since he was super chunky. we turned off the lights, i turned on this special light put it up to his palms (after testing it on my own to make sure it wasn't too hot) looked in both hands but nothing. we turned the lights back on and i started the IV in the opposite side of his elbow (the antecubital vein or AC) with success on the first stick (yea! three points for super nurse stephanie). we were leaving when i noticed he had marks on his palms, blisters. i first thought of Jesus and the holes left in his hands from being nailed to the cross. for a second i thought this could was "special" born with the marks on his palms, then his mom mentioned the light had burned his virgin skin (minus 100 points for bad nurse stephanie). many expletives filled my head as i examined the damaged i'd caused. i'd seen this technique used before, tested it on my own dry calloused hands first. my hands deceived me, it wasn't hot but because i have the hands of a 50year old man whose worked his whole life in the fields.
on a daily basis i apologize a million times, for turning on the light when a patients sleeping, for making too much noise in a room, for intruding to get something simple, for moving family members from one side of a room to another. i have been told i apologize too much. yet in nursing school i was told to never apologize for things as it would give away my innocence in the matter, deem me guilty by two simple words. when i realized that i'd burned this innocent baby the words couldn't find a way to my brain. i got ice bags immediately and applied it to his palms. i worked around it and they were mad. i'm sure all the wanted was an apology from me instead of a very matter of fact approach to fix it. but the truth was i wouldn't, couldn't say it. so i didn't. and i didn't want to walk back in the room.
the cause for the diarrhea was simple gastroenteritis. after all the work to find the IV it had kinked and only 1/4 of the fluids ordered were infused. with my tail between my legs i walked back in. "I'm sorry" was written all over my face as i examined his hands again before i let them all go home. i told the parents the incident had been written up so that it wouldn't happen again and then i said "these things sometimes happen". i guess they understood. i still don't, i still feel guilty, feel horrible. mistakes are made and we learn from them, this is what i keep telling myself.

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