I’m going to start by saying, I’m great in emergencies. Working high risk labor and delivery most of my career has taught me to keep a cool head, scan the room, anticipate needs, and act quickly and accordingly. Even when all of the commotion makes the room seem chaotic, medical professionals know things are under control, especially when you have a great team. Many of my co-workers would probably agree with the sentiment that I’m great in emergencies…at work.
Why can’t a cool, calm head be something that translates to “home me” as well? I’m an utter shit-show in emergencies when they involve people I care about (Ugh, that sentence is brutal on my soul to even type). You can ask my best friend about the time her toddler was bitten by a dog and I completely froze, ask my carpool buddy about the time she choked on a pill and I stood in the corner with nervous laughter, which she could hear the entire time…ummm, on second thought, please don’t. There is something about things happening to the people I love that just sends all my calm and training out of the window. This is especially a bad thing because people tend to look to me to jump to action because “You are a nurse”. But it is a good thing to know my limitations, and I know others can be more helpful during emergency situations.
Honestly, I think this goes along with my glass is half empty attitude. When things start to go south, I think of the worst case scenario. This was challenged at home a few weekends ago. Frankie had a random stomach bug. (Crap, where did we put that sick day protocol?) She puked while we were fighting a stubborn low — couldn’t get her up above 70 (her endocrinologist wants her between 100-180 as a reference point). We were at the library, of course random puking couldn’t happen at home. As soon as we got home, I checked ketones 4.2 — shit, over 1 and we’re supposed to call the doctor and give extra insulin. “How the hell am I supposed to give insulin when I can’t get her sugar above 100?” “Oh my god, we’re going to have to go to the hospital?” “Mom, you go pack a bag while I call the BDC.” Yep, all three of these sentences came out of my mouth while I was dialing the phone to talk to our endo. (I realize now, it may have been slightly dramatic)
I was pacing as I was awaiting the call back from the doctor on call, I called Jason to let him know what was going on (because obviously the one person who keeps me calm was at a swim meet out of town), and I was throwing some clothes in a bag for myself (you know, since I was sure we were going to the hospital). The endocrinologist called back and was totally nice, told me to decrease basal rate on the pump (duh, less insulin will allow her sugars to go up), reassured me that the ketones were starvation ketones (yep, hard to have DKA when your sugar isn’t above 100), and encouraged sugary fluids so we could hopefully flush out the ketones and attempt to get her sugar high enough to give insulin. I took a deep breath and decided to tackle the task at hand, and remembered all of my freaking nursing education and how the human body works. The rest of the night went off without a hitch (except that my atypical 3 year old doesn’t like to drink anything sweet, so much for treating lows with juice), sugars came up above 100, ketones came down with lots of fluids, and she only puked 1 more time in the middle of the night. Frankie survived her first sick day with type one. Although, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. What the hell am I going to do if an actual emergency arises??
That said, I’m going to work on changing my home emergency response, my fight or flight is going to get its shit together. I need to, for my family and for myself. I need to remember to take a deep breath, take a good look around, assess the situation and act accordingly. If I can’t, I’m never going to survive this stressful, beautiful life we’ve been given.