A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, January 12, 2008


It was still a bit before noon, and all my cases were packed away in PACU. My partner and I were preparing to get a bite to eat and leave for the day. As I was putting on my lab coat I noticed a slight argument conversation between a family member and a nurse. I inquired as to the nature of the disagreement and received the old "Nothing we can't handle" response. Sometimes though, the introduction of a white coat and a scrub cap can make all the difference, so I strolled over to have a look.

The lady I had worked on at 6AM was still in recovery. Her son was outside, wanting her to be released immediately to the floor. The lady was fully recovered, sitting up in bed wondering why she was still there as well. I took a look at the post-op orders. The surgeon had written orders that she could return to the floor at 12:00. She was to be recovered until that time. I went outside to speak to the son.

The son was quite agitated as I told him his mother was doing fine in recovery. He said he knew that, and that was not the problem. It seemed his father was being discharged from the sixth floor at noon to be admitted to a long term care facility. His parents had not seen each other for over a week. The gentleman's father had Alzheimer's, and was being combative.

I went back into Recovery, and informed the nurse I was taking the patient upstairs. I was told I couldn't do that, not without an order from the surgeon. I explained recovery would not stop. I told the nurse to give me a quick verbal report as I assisted the lady into a wheelchair, and retrieved her teeth and spectacles. I wrote down the last set of vitals displayed on the monitor and I disconnected it. The lady was not on oxygen anymore. Her vitals were stable. I had two nurses fussing at me as I told them I was assuming my patient's care again. I had ten minutes.

The elevator ride was silent, neither of us speaking to the other. As the elevator doors chimed open, I asked the lady which room her husband was in. Room 626. I rolled her up to the door and took a peek inside. The EMTs had an ambulance stretcher beside the bed. A nurse, a nurse aide and two EMTs were trying to convince the old geezer he would be fine if he allowed them to transfer him. He was having nothing of it. I could tell by the twisted sheets and furrowed brows that it had not been pretty a few minutes earlier in that room.

"Howard!" she demanded, "Howard, just what the Sam Hill are you doing?" A snaggletoothed grin crept across the old man's face as my patient rolled her wheelchair into the room and inserted herself between the nurse and me. "Howard, you behave. You know I wouldn't let nothin' happen to you that would be hurtful." The glow of recognition enveloped the man as he lay speechless gazing at the woman he loved. The old man said nothing, only staring contentedly at his bride as the EMTs moved him gently to the stretcher and strapped him down.

"Howard, now you be good. I'll be by to see you as soon as I can," his wife told him. I rolled her backwards into the hallway to allow the EMTs to finish up. While we waited, I strapped a Dinamap to her arm and recorded the vital signs on a scrap of paper. As the old gent was rolled out of the room, his bride leaned forward to kiss him on the forehead, telling him it will be OK, she will be there soon. Then they parted yet again.

The lady's son shook my hand, telling me he had to go with his father to make certain he settled in comfortably. We bade him goodbye. It was another quiet elevator ride back down to PACU. Once there, I again hooked the little lady up to the monitors, and recorded her vital signs and notated them on her chart. The recovery nurse fawned over our patient a bit, giving me a distinctly icy shoulder as I gave report back to her. I finished, and started to leave, but the little lady grasped my hand quickly. She couldn't quite say it, but she silently mouthed thank you. A single tear rolled down her cheek.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:18 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

THAT is what nursing is all about. Or should be.

One of the most compassionate things I've ever heard of.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

THAT is what nursing is all about. Or should be.

One of the most compassionate things I've ever heard of.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Reno Sepulveda said...

When my wife wakes up I must have her read this. Five years ago she was given medical power of attorney over her father with Parkinsen's. He passed in Mar. of 2006, then her mother started fading with heart and circulatory problems. Now she suffers from full blown dementia as well and is staying at a convalescent hospital.

It's been a tough five years and I wish I could say some of our experiences with doctors and nurses and hospitals has been as uplifting as your story.

Best to you sir. Professionalism is a good thing indeed. When it's tempered with compassion it becomes noble.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Bob Brennan said...

Did you read Glen Beck's contrary experience?
You, sir, are a gem!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Judge Mint Day said...

Good Job, It's not about doing the thing right, but doing the right thing.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Travlin said...

One of the biggest frustrations in modern life is the way corporate and bureaucratic procedures block common sense and human needs. It is a growing problem.

This is especially important in medicine were people are particularly vulnerable. It is heartening to see someone with the courage to take a stand and intervene as you did Xavier. People like you make the world a better place to live. Thanks.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Well done.

No doubt it was medically, and humanly, the best way to handle that.

Well done I say, again.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

My late father in law suffered from Alzheimers, while at the same time my late mother in law lived with us suffering from dementia. I can understand the son's concerns. When the two of them could spend a little time together with a few moments of clarity between them, in made a world of difference.

Good on you. A little compassion and common sense can sure go a long way.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Ride Fast said...

[...] Recovery and discharge [...]

1:39 PM  
Blogger Keith Walker said...

Why is it that common sense isn't so common any more? Good job Xavier.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Will Bentley said...

Bravo Zulu Xavier,

Strict adherence to rules and regulations is a poor substitute for practical good sense.

I imagine a world in which we were all so considerate, and I am inspired to be more kind.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Sans Authoritas said...

Way to be, Xavier. I think Judge Mint said it well: It's not about doing the thing right, but doing the right thing.

7:13 PM  
Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

What can I say?

It is always comforting to know that there is still good among us. You, sir, are a fine representative of that.

Well done, sir. Well done.


7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope if I am ever in a hospital someone like you will be there.

Thank you!

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

I had to transfer a little old lady from a hospital to a hursing home, due to her having hallucinations. She had a short term duration court order that she could be moved against her will. But I took the time to convince her to go, rather than just strapping her down. Got dispatch upset with me about it, but I'm not sorry I took the time.

6:49 AM  
Blogger dropdownstairs said...

well Here's a pat on the back.
that's the kind of thing that gets you fired, actually caring.

9:29 AM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

That was a lovely thing you did. You've got a lot of heart, and you are a healer in the truest sense of the word.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best to you sir. Professionalism is a good thing indeed. When it's tempered with compassion it becomes noble.

I couldn’t have said it better than Reno Sepulveda. You are indeed a noble person and have brought a few tears to my eyes today just as you have for that dear lady. I hope your blog will be seen by many that will continue the compassion toward others.


11:51 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

If you weren't already a known hero, you certainly are now. Good Job. You're my hero now. People with hearts like yours are the reason society can still continue the way it can.

Thanks for that heartwarming story.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..... that was a wonderful, wonderful thing that you did.... it truly was....


8:33 PM  
Anonymous Ross said...

Wish you'd include a Kleenex alert in stories like that, Xavier!

Well done, Sir.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Matt G said...

Good work.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Carl H said...

Hat tip.

12:48 PM  

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