Another day begins.
It’s hard to explain how I feel after yesterday . . .
I wake up and head to work with a smile. I’m wearing my normal attire, blue scrubs. The color is rather ironic. I put my shoes on in the car like always. The shoes never go inside, as they bear remnants of the day before.
I walk in to meet my tribe. We laugh off the previous day’s challenges as we start over. Patients come in and are greeted with the warm Southern welcome of this community emergency room.
Coughs, chest pain, leg injuries, moms, dads, babies, grandmas. A patient with my story who is fighting battles that I fought years ago. My heart aches. I give her hope. She is optimistic. I’m soaring, feeling high on life.
A girl who lost a baby. My heart aches. Why does this happen? What do I say? How do I comfort her? I pray for her. I make a funny joke, at which she has a two-second reprieve from grief and we share a laugh. I feel peace.
A boy is vomiting and writhing in pain. He is scared as he gets his first IV. It’s in and he’s proud of himself for not crying. The medicine works. He is discharged and can’t wait to go play video games with his friend. I give him a hard time; we laugh together.
In comes a child with mental health concerns. He wants to die. He is searching the room for potential weapons. He is overstimulated and needs to decompress. He tries to choke himself with a bed cord. He cries. I cry. I go to the bathroom and pray.
There’s a code coming in? Lines, compressions, CT, return of patient’s pulse! No pulse. Resume compressions, pulse check, nothing. Last round of CPR, pulse check, “I have a pulse,“ pulseless V-tach, resume compressions. Time of death. I’m tired and out of breath. I feel defeated , , ,
New patient. I must smile and pretend that today is a good day.
Many emotions at the end of a shift.
I drive home and can’t unsee what has happened today. I pray, I am confused, I am proud, I am sad, I am overwhelmed.
I leave my shoes in the car, the blue scrubs in the laundry, and I shower to wash away today’s pain.
Tomorrow I will wake up and head to work with a smile because I love being a nurse.
Tarra Midgette, RN, is a nurse in an emergency department in North Carolina.