One Weekend

When I called in sick last Tuesday, I had great hopes that I would be completely recovered by the weekend. Alas, no such luck. I dragged myself into work – and soon wished I hadn’t.

My patient coded. My first code. Completely unexpected.

He had just had a relatively minor surgery – a couple days in the hospital and then he would be going home. I met him and his son and family friend; they were all very pleasant. I had helped him use the urinal, then left the aide in there to do vitals while I went to go give another patient a medication.

While I was giving this other fellow his vicodin, the voice came over the loudspeaker. “Code Blue, Joseph 2G Room 48.”

Did I hear that right? Joseph 2G? They must mean Joseph 3G. Still, I gently excused myself and went to check. I was sure he would be sitting up and watching TV and laughing…

But sure enough, a crowd of people was gathered around the room. and a red light was blinking. Alarms were going off. While the aide was taking his blood pressure, he had gone pulseless and unresponsive. Other nurses had started CPR, set up the AED and called the code team. Doctors, nurses, a house supervisor, the chaplain and the charge nurse all swarmed the scene.

The code team worked hard on him for nearly an hour – intubating, drawing labs, doing CPR (of course), pushing fluids, pushing epinephrine. I did little things like turning on the computer, silencing alarms, handing in alligator clips, and providing information.  Tragically, he didn’t make it. They tried everything but he was gone. Heart attack? Embolism? We will never know. I felt so bad for his family; there was no way to see this coming. 

The rest of the shift went by in a blur and when I got home I found it hard to sleep. For the next few days it ran over and over in my head like a broken tape. I looked online for other stories of first codes and found them strangely comforting. I was glad I wasn’t the only one who felt lost during my first code.

I then worked Saturday and Sunday nights. Saturday night went fairly well, but Sunday night was a little too busy. Things always get really crazy right around 6-7 am especially if you have 6 and 7 am meds to give in 4 rooms and 2 blood sugars… not to mention all the other things that happen.

But this weekend had a few upsides. One was seeing my husband. Yes for once we both worked the same shift in the same building!! We went down to the cafeteria together on my break. Did I mention he’s really cute in scrubs?

Secondly, another nurse floating to my floor on Sunday night invited all of us to breakfast at Brothers Bar & Grill after the shift. So I drove over and had a delicious Monte Cristo sandwich (french toast, ham, and cheese with raspberry sauce mmm) and socialized with some fun nurses. It was great to hang out and debrief before going to bed.

And last but not least… I got a new job! Yes, back on St. Patrick’s Day, I interviewed for a position at Employee Community Health… and on Monday I found out that I had received the spot! I am really excited to try something new and different. I have LOVED working as a float nurse, and I know I am going to LOVE working in the clinic setting at ECH. I can already tell that they have a terrific team and I am so excited to learn a different kind of nursing. So, no more night shifts with the husband… but a lot more homecooked dinners!

Note: All identifying details of the code patient and floor have been changed. It is pretty much a work of fiction. Except that it happened.


Last weekend was delightfully busy. On Friday we went to SocialIce, the one time of year that Rochesterites get out and celebrate the coldness of winter by turning Peace Plaza into an ice sculpture gallery complete with alcoholic drinks. We met our friends from Chile there, Meni and Mario,  and we all agreed… it was too cold to be outside! The sculptures were lovely, the music was inspiring, but we spent as little time out there as possible.

Saturday was Meni’s birthday so I took her out for a girl’s afternoon at Diamond Nails, where we both got mani-pedis, enjoyed a massage chair, and relaxed. Here is Meni with her fantastic nails!


Then we headed to Stam for some tasty gelato. However, we had to cut our afternoon short and rush back so I could get some tax paperwork from my former landlord…

….or that’s what Meni thought. Really, that last bit was an elaborate set-up to get Meni to the clubhouse where her husband had prepared a surprise party. Meni was very surprised – because she has a summer birthday in Chile, no one is ever around. Success!! After eating, drinking, and shooting the breeze, we watched some of the very first events of the Olympics. I appreciated how they alternated snowboarding with pairs figure skating. “Something for the boys…something for the girls… coming up soon, something for the boys…”

On Sunday, Chris played handbells at the Festival of Music at church. He knocked the music out of the park using both handbells and the bell tree. Here is an action shot – doesn’t he look cute in a tux?!!!

Afterwards our friend Carolyn, my other soul mate (a flute playing cultural anthropologist!), had everyone in the performance over to dinner.

Of course any weekend so fun must be followed by a week of blah. But even last week had its moments. On Wednesday the 100+ nurses, patient care assistants, and unit coordinators in the float pool gathered for a Team Days. It was FANTASTIC. They fed us, they talked to us about stress relief and conflict management, and most importantly they gave us all the same night off. Many of team went out for drinks afterward and proved, once and for all, that float nurses are NOT antisocial or not community minded… they just never have the same night off!

I was the exception that proved the rule, as I was too busy attending a personal finance course… I have no excuse!

Friday’s Bible study at Side by Side was fantastic. It is such a blessing to have this group of women around me and I really appreciated what everyone had to say. I realized I have really been “leaning on my own strength” with some struggles lately and turning to other people to feel better instead of turning to God.

I worked all weekend and am looking forward to using this week off to catch up on school. First step though will be removing the incredible amount of snow we have acquired in the last 72 hours. Oh, Minnesota.