Remember that one darling daughter of mine who just fifteen years ago, after her ambulance ride to a trauma center and time in the PICU, followed by reconstructive surgery weeks later promised me that the next time she would find herself in a hospital she would be married and having a baby? And remember when she found herself in an ER just three years ago after discovering that magical, mystical creatures like herself STILL don’t bounce? Yes, she had to apologize for breaking her promise to me via FaceTime with her doctor laughing a little in the background.
Here we were earlier last week…
her guardian angel, sitting in the corner, rolling her eyes, shaking her head back and forth and I’m pretty sure I saw her take a hit off of a bottle in a brown paper bag because…
OH MY GOD, Zoë Elizabeth!!!
Long story short, she ‘s okay. She is okay except for the fact that last Tuesday she passed out cold in her kitchen while trying to clean up some puncture wounds on her leg thanks to her asshole cat and when her sister found herself having a hard time reviving her, called 911. The paramedics found her blood pressure and heart rate to be very low so they decided to take her to the local ER known for their Human Kindness. Mom arrives soon after to micromanage and basically be in the way of her caregivers as moms who are nurses often do; and just as mom arrives, an ER nurse approaches her with a pill she directs her to take because the doctor ordered it.
Wait, she was seen by a physician? Because she tells me she hasn’t been examined yet.
Oh, the doctor looked her over when the ambulance arrived.
He examined her?
He looked at her.
Zoë joins in, So that guy in scrubs who talked to me was a doctor? He never told me that.
ER nurse rolls her eyes
Anyway, the doctor wants you to take this.
What is this?
It’s an antibiotic, for the puncture wounds. It’s to prevent infection.
As Zoë swallows the pill, the nurse walks away without a word.
The ER is crowded. It’s a triple digit evening in Stockton. Of course the ER is crowded. Time passes with staff walking back and forth but never stopping to say anything to Zoë or the other patients sitting in chairs around her. After a time a tech comes and takes Zoë, with me tagging a long, to a curtained area where he begins to prep her for a 12 lead EKG.
So the doctor ordered an EKG?
EKG complete. Normal sinus rhythm. Heart rate is a little low still. Tech remarks, as he removes the leads, that from the appearance of her skin right now she is a little dehydrated; which might be why she passed out given how hot it has been all day today.
Literally the first time someone talked to her about what brought her to the ER.
Returning to her place in the crowded exam area, a nurse comes and tells me I must wait in chairs in the waiting room because of the overflow of patients. No problem because, yes, this ER is literally overflowing with the humanity of Stockton seeking their special brand of Human Kindness…like the lady sitting next to me in the wait room chairs who receives discharge instructions from her nurse for treatment for allergies and post nasal drip…yes, ALLERGIES and POST NASAL DRIP was her admitting diagnosis!
Looking around, over-hearing conversations, it was clear that there were some in the ER that evening for similar minor complaints but there were people in pain, people desperately ill seeking emergency care with a little bit of Human Kindness.
I waited in chairs anxiously for Zoë while she advocated for herself in a way that would make her nurse mama proud. Registration seemed relieved almost as she confirmed that, yes, Zoë was insured. And then we were on our way…
…to her local pharmacy…a very crowded pharmacy…a pharmacy that took more than 24 hours to even begin to attempt to fill her prescription…because Augmentin is super hard to fill.
In the end, I remind my darling daughter of the fact that she broke her eight year old little girl promise to me…again. I also talk with her about the reality that is healthcare today and how although we healthcare providers do strive to help people live happier, healthier lives, to thrive and to connect on a human level because human connection leads to better health, we healthcare providers, all of us, need to do better. We need to try harder. We need to really treat each and every patient we encounter with the level of care our mission statements declare. Like it or not, we healthcare providers are graded by HCAHPS; which we really shouldn’t stress too much about if we are truly working to strive to help people live happier, healthier lives, to thrive and to connect on a human level because human connection leads to better health.
Zoë is going to be just fine. The puncture wounds will heal. She will do her very best to stay well-hydrated…and not scare her sister, her mother, her guardian angel anymore. Zoë also will be filling out the patient survey that St Joseph’s will soon be sending her way with all the brutal honesty that is needed and deserved because Human Kindness is exactly what all of their patients deserve and must have. As for me, this RN, I am all the more reminded, nudged and inspired to try harder to do exactly just that for my patients and for their mamas who expect just that as well.