Yesterday I was scheduled to do a clinical shadow at the big, fancy hospital near our new home. It, by far, outdoes the little, tiny community hospital where I've spent all my nursing school. I thought my day was going to be full of networking and great nursing experiences with patients I'd never get to see at my tiny hospital. Oh, how wrong I was!
And honestly, if you read my last post, I didn't mean for two embarrassing stories to follow one another.
It was still the faint moments of morning twilight as I drove towards the mecca hospital. The normally busy streets were barren and glowed from the street lights as I easily caught every light green. Good luck failed to deter my nerves which were bundling inside my abdomen into a ball the size of a coconut. Or maybe that was the baby? I couldn't be sure.
After parking my car I had to walk nearly a half a mile to the wing where I was shadowing. As I approached the doors to the unit my palms began to sweat. I wiped them on my sweatshirt hastily as the double doors automatically swung open for me in case there was imminent hand shaking about to happen. Instead of handshakes a smiling young woman ushered me into the nursing lounge where I put my belongings and sat at a table reading a tabloid magazine waiting for the day shift to arrive.
Nurses trickled in and began sitting around the table. Curiosity led them to ask who the heck the stranger at the table was, but not much other conversation was directed my way. Suddenly at 7am the nurses adjourned from their tiny break room and went out onto the floor where the patients were to begin report. The nurse I was shadowing, tiny and quiet, sat down with the night nurse going off shift and began to talk about patients. As report began I stood there, listening intently, and then I realized suddenly that something was wrong. Very wrong.
All of a sudden I felt extremely hot. The air was stagnant. My face flushed over. Then I was struck with a wave of nausea. Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to sit down. Oh, if only there was a third chair! I so desperately needed to sit and was sure it would all pass in a matter of seconds if only I could. Instead, report babbled on and I began to lose concentration.
Suddenly standing still was more than I could bear. I felt my body break out in a drenching sweat and my head began to pound. Whatever the girls were saying at report at that point I couldn't comprehend. I walked a couple steps away and leaned against a counter. This caught there attention.
Are you okay? One of the nurses asked.
Uh... no. Was all I could managed before my world was closed in by a black fuzzy envelope. The next thing I remember there were half a dozen nurses around me and I was sitting in an office chair that was being wheeled into an empty patient room. That, my friends, is called a syncopal episode. a.k.a. fainting.
Yes, I fainted ten minutes into morning report on my clinical shadow day in front of a half a dozen people I had just met and who suppose to trust me to help them with patient care for the day.
As soon as I was in the cool patient room I instantly felt better. I muttered a series of appologies and stated over and over how embarrassed I was. Rather than listening to my pleas that I was fine the nurses, being the good acute care nurses they are, barraged me with a million questions.
Did you eat breakfast? Are you nervous? Has this happened before?
Uh, well, I am about four months pregnant.
Oh. Ok then. That makes sense.
My blood sugar was checked, found to be normal, and a mound of food placed in front of me anyway as I answered their ever expanding questions. No, this has never happened before, ever. Yes, I feel fine now. Yes, I ate breakfast. No, I don't have any medical conditions other than a fetus. I wanted to just fall out of the three story window I was sitting next to and waited for the nurse supervisor to send me home.
They left me alone to eat after feeling marginally satisfied with my answers to their questions. I could hear everyone in the hallway passing by the room talking about what had just transpired. She fainted? Who? The student? Oh, lord, well should she even be here?
I chugged my second orange juice container waiting for them to send me home. My skin was cold from the evaporating sweat and I could smell my deodorant. Thank God it works like a charm I told myself. Thank God for small miracles.
After a few minutes of waiting no nurses had come in to check on me so I decided I would venture out into the unit and display my quick recovery. I walked back to the nurse I was paired with for the day who had already finished getting report. She looked at me with a skeptical eye, clearly sizing me up, so I met her gaze with an apology and swore to her I felt fine.
Like a trooper the unit nurse took the strange student with the disorder of retaining consciousness under her wing and began her shiftwork. I felt completely and utterly fine after that strange event and just went about shadowing without so much as a hiccup the rest of the shift. As normal and conscious as I was the rest of the day it didn't seem to take the weird edge away from the beginning of the shift. It was clear I was already branded thanks to the worse possible first impression ever.
You just don't forget something like that beginning your day.