Sunday, July 03, 2005

another chicago area on-call

I thought I'd jump in since it's been about a month. I have about 6 on-calls under my belt as of today. Let me give you a sample of a recent one. My evening from 5pm to 8:30am included...

Arriving to the hospital at 5pm to start a shift and finding the following going on simultaneously in the ER:

1. A Full Arrest in room#$
2. An infant death in room @#
3. A severe subdural hematoma (brain bleed) in room$%

Thank the Maker, from 5 to 10 pm I had an ER staff chaplain working with me so we could cover all these happenings. She had already started working with the family of the infant death so she kept the lead on that. With the exception of the infant death, the other two situations had run their course by 7:30 pm. I then shoveled some salad down my throat and then helped begin the process to have a staff debriefing for the infant death. This is our third death of a child since I began 4 weeks ago...My fellow chaplain said it hasn't been like this in years...

Around 8pm I decide to try to make the rounds of the hospital. In the ICU I run into a family I've been working with for sometime who are worried their love one won't make it through the night. I let them know I am available at any time through the night.

8:30pm I deliver the evening prayer over the PA system. A relative calm. I jokingly tell the communications people "no more pages tonight please." They tell me they'll do their best :-) I then continue to make rounds, help with advanced directives, chat with security (ah the normal things).

10pm I check in with the other chaplain who's wrapping up her evening. Several hugs and sharing how we're feeling about the evening we both head home.

11pm-2:30 am Fitful sleep. Please don't page me. Please don't page me. Stop thinking about it, just sleep.

2:30am Level I Trauma Stab wound to the chest...I call in, the charge nurse will call me if I'm needed.

Ok, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep.

4am Level I Trauma Car accident/Attempted suicide: You guessed it, I'm going in.

I arrive to the ER about 4:25am and I spend the next 2 hours realizing that they actually probably didn't need to call me in for this one. But I learned a lot about myself through this experience. Hopefully, I'll have more time to write about it later. For now, I'll say that the person in this situation is alive and recovering, a definite praise.

6:30am I head back home and stop by Dunkin Donuts to grab some Munchkins for the fam.

7-8am: Two pages with inquiries about Catholic mass and communion. Very happy to be Protestant at the moment and let them know Eucharistic ministers will be by to see them.

8:30am: I'm off. I put in a quick call to the Sunday chaplain and by 9:30 am, I've crashed on the bed (still in my dress clothes).

4 weeks ago, I was very fearful of the ER. My body would go through feelings of mild shock each time I had to respond to a trauma or a full arrest. Last night I turned a corner. While I believe that the ER will still be my largest "growing edge" this summer, like others of you I'm starting to get to know the staff a little, to understand their patterns, to understand the ebb and flow of life and death in the ER. It doesn't make it any easier but I am thankful that I am able to perservere and maybe that's all I can hope for right now.


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