It was a lovely summer wedding. The weather along Oyster Bay in New York could not have been better. And of course, the bride was beautiful. I was at the wedding of my dear friendís younger daughter who I refer to as my niece. It was a glorious event that lasted well into the night. For all the relatives there, so was her 90-something-year-old grandmother. She was resplendent in a new dress for the occasion, and feeling quite well.
The next day was a post-wedding backyard gathering of the wedding party and assorted guests. The sun shone and there was good food and wine for everyone. Another long day. Suddenly there was a commotion on the patio and I noted that something was amiss. I charged out of the patio door and literally stepped over several guest to get to grandma. Her eyes were wide open, but no response. Pulse thread, but there. Nothing could stimulate her. After yelling for 911, I laid her gently down, put her legs over my shoulders and applied a mild sternal rub. She opened her eyes and asked me by name why her legs were in the air and where were her shoes. I smiled.
This was not a patient with cancer, nor had she any true medical conditions. Several things had crossed my mind in the fleeting seconds until she responded:
- Massive stroke
- Major cardiac arrest
EMS arrived and I gave them a full report. Her EKG strip looked good, vital signs stable. She refused further care--no one could convince her otherwise. She stayed indoors and wine was exchanged for vitamin-based water. She improved the rest of the day and remained stable in the ensuing weeks. It was probably just too much excitement coupled with dehydration, sun, and more wine than usual.
The point of my story is that despite our specialties, we are health professionals with training that holds us in good stead no matter where we are or who we are with. Basic skills will always be useful and others will look to you in time of emergency. Here are the take away messages that I learned that day.
- Despite my back fusion, I can still jump over anything when there is a patient in need!
- My basic nursing skills and activating an EMS situation are part of my core.
- Nurses and other healthcare professionals can calm almost any situation and others are looking to you not only for support, but for the knowledge you carry with you.
- The patient thanked me for "saving her life." While flattered, I do not see it that way. Letís just say, I "saved the day" and we continued in good spirits to wish the bride and groom well.
Are you ready for the next non-oncologic emergency?