Saturday, 7 April 2012

Full of Shit

I feel the need to add a disclaimer to this blog post. Yes, I am a registered nurse. I worked my ass off (and drank my face off) for four solid years to get a degree, and then wrote an eight hour exam to become registered, so that I could make a living off of caring for the sick. And not just the sick, the really sick. I presently am employed in Intensive Care. We are talking the sickest people in Newfoundland and Labrador here. 

I possess the (very rusty after a year of maternity leave) skills to look after people with massive head injuries, people maimed in car accidents, people who were badly burned, people who have had triple bypass surgeries, people whose lungs have called it a day, and some people who we just don't know what the hell is wrong with, we just know that they are goddamn sick and so we work our ass off to figure it the hell out. 

I recall one (very common and understandable) situation where a patient was extremely ill and the family did not want to turn off life support because they felt it was God's decision when to take a life and not theirs. The Doctor's response, with all due respect and more sensitivity than I could ever convey in writing, was that ICU is bigger than God. We battle with God on a daily basis and consistently override His decisions. God is not in the ventilator. God is not in the Insulin drip or in the Levophed or the Morphine or the Epinephrine. God happens when ICU is finished.

All this aside, you would think I would know what to do when my sweet little angel didn't take a dump for five solid days. 


As a second disclaimer, I also think it's important to include that my final, and longest, clinical work term before I graduated was in the Emergency room of Newfoundland and Labrador's only pediatric hospital, the Janeway. I spent three solid months dealing with situations from children getting hit by cars, to children who could very well have been seen by a family doctor for a mild cough. If I learned nothing else in there, I learned what was a child emergency and what wasn't. I certainly wasn't going to be one of those crazy mothers who brought their child in for a hangnail, I'll tell you that for free.  

Day one and day two sans poop weren't a big deal. Sometimes Avery likes to take a little poop hiatus and as a family we are extremely comfortable with her decision. Day three made me a little nervous. Avery seemed to be having some trouble, and several times throughout the day would stop playing and sit very still, grunting and turning red. I would open her diaper with fear in my heart, only to find a nugget. I broke out the prunes, a mommy's first line of defense against the evils of constipation. Surely this would clean her out like a bottle of Drain-O gets my hair yhetti out of the shower drain. Everything was going to be fine. 

Except it wasn't. 

Day four was filled with more prunes, warm baths, tummy massages, and me bicycling Avery's chubby little legs. All of these techniques and ideas I picked up from my pediatric experience (and I'm sure most experienced mothers of planned children are aware of them also). She was cranky and straining and there were still only nuggs in her diap. We put her to bed that night after another load of prunes, hoping that by the next morning she would expel the demon that was lurking in her little belly. 

Avery woke up at 10:00, a mere two hours after she had gone to bed, screaming bloody murder. She was inconsolable and pushing like she was giving birth to a ten pounder. Mid-diaper change, she began pushing again and, sorry for the graphic nature of this post, what she was trying to push out was too big for her little bummy to accommodate. 

That was enough for me. We were going to the Janeway. 

True to form, by the time we got to the hospital, Avery was gurgling and smiling at the nurses. Our nurse felt her belly and it was soft and nontender (duh, I should have known that) which is a classic sign that there isn't a huge backup of stool in there. She asked if I had called the Health Line for advice, something that I used to suggest to all my mommy friends before I was a mommy myself, but no, I did not. She finally asked if I had tried glycerin pediatric suppositories. Nope, forgot about that too. I realized in that moment that I had become "one of those mothers" who came to the emergency room but had no emergency. 

Basically, we drove for 20 minutes at 10:30 on a Monday night so that someone with the same education as me could tell me things that I finished learning about only a couple of years ago, and would even suggest to people a little over 8 months ago. On top of this, my sister is also a (very knowledgeable) nurse and has two kids of her own, so I very well could have called her too. To say I felt like an idiot is the understatement of the century.

On our way home I sheepishly crept into a 24 hour pharmacy, got the suppositories and administered them when I got home. It took two doses, but Avery eventually released what could be called the Atomic Bomb of the baby poop world. It required me to basically scrape off what I could before throwing her in the tub and scrubbing off the rest... and then scrubbing the tub. One of the more beautiful moments of parenting. 

This experience has taught me exactly why healthcare professionals are legally not allowed to look after family members, and has taught me that when your child is hurting, everything feels like an emergency. I still feel like an idiot though and will be making several phone calls to several different people before I ever take her to the ER again... unless of course it's an obvious emergency.

Now that motherhood has stripped me of my dignity and robbed me of my ability to remember any of my formal education, I would love to know if any of you out there ever felt like a total moron. Misery loves company! Leave a comment, sure! :)

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