A year at U of R

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mental state: comatose

I accomplished a lot in clinicals this week. For the first time, I was fully responsible for all of the care for two patients. I gave all of their meds, did lab samples, did vital signs and 5-minute assessments, and did all of the documentation. I even put together a nebulizer on my own for the first time (Fitting the tubes and pieces together was easy, like tinker-toys). And I had to keep on schedule to make sure that all of this was done on time.

Even more challenging than giving my patient a nebulizer or meds, though, was simply getting him out of bed.

Ever tried to wake up a teenage boy? It doesn't work, especially tough if you're a softie like I am. I waited and waited, walking into the room once an hour and checking, hoping that it would happen spontaneously. But finally, I couldn't put it off any more. I went in, and started talking.

"Morning! How are you today?"

No response.

"Ready to get up? Breakfast is already here!"

No response. I turned on the lights, and pulled back the curtain.

"I know you want to sleep, but I've got to take you're blood pressure."

No response. I pushed a button to raise his bed to a sitting position. This elicited a small reflex movement of the facial muscles.

"O.K, time to get going. It's just about time to take some meds..."

He opened one eye, and looked at me reproachfully. He obviously was hoping I was just a bad dream that would go away soon.

An hour later, I managed to get my vital signs and give some pills. As I was recording the assessment I looked at the next entry. Level of consciousness? "Altered," I thought. Mental state? If I wasn't such a softie, the answer would be "comatose".

(authored with creative input from S.A.)