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Trauma in the night -Linda's Story

Updated: Feb 27

I was on call for the OR one night when the phone rang at 2:47 am. There was a trauma case; a gunshot wound to the head had just come through the ER. I hurriedly put on the jeans and sweater that I had laid on the chair beside the bed in case I got called out. The adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I tried to remember where I left my keys...

A photo of instruments being passed by gloved hands to gloved hands in the OR.

Driving to the hospital, I was mentally going over what instruments and drugs the team would need. Just minutes before, I was sleeping, now I was in full "fight or flight" mode. I arrived and changed into my scrubs. Exiting the lounge, I saw the patient being wheeled down the hall with the anesthesiologist bagging him and the recovery room nurse pumping blood. I put on my professional armor and hurried to the surgical room. My two nurse colleagues and I said little as we quickly set up the case; we knew the routine. As we lifted the patient onto the OR table, I noticed he is young. Although the blood was matted in his hair, the wound on his forehead was small. I thought maybe we could save him. But there was also a gaping wound at the back of his head...

I couldn't help but wonder - who was this young man, and why was he here?

The surgeon and I assisted the anesthesiologist, while the recovery room nurse continued pumping blood. Suddenly his vital signs became erratic. We lost him.

The surgeon went to the scrub sink and brought back a soapy sponge. Reverently, he washed the blood from the young man's face and hair. I brought him a comb and he combed the young man's hair saying he didn't want the family to see him until he was ready. I suddenly felt very tired... I saw the same in the eyes of my coworkers.

The OR room was cleaned, and there was no evidence of our frenzy to save a life or that tonight we had lost the battle. The room was ready for the next time.

I drove home more slowly and crawled into bed, but I couldn't sleep. The adrenaline was still there, and I was on call for two more hours, so I needed to be ready...

My clothes were on the chair beside the bed, just in case the phone rang again.

For more stories like this one, read Off the Chart A Nurse's Journey of Heart and Humor

Published by Jennifer Tipton / This post may contain affiliate links.


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