Friday, 28 November 2008

My Ghost stories

I'm naturally sceptical, but as its winter all the dark nights inevitably lead to the old ghost stories being trotted out. In all my career, I only ever recall there being one time when there were ghosts talked about. It was back in 2005 on my first placement. A patient was to be admitted with a chest infection. The ward was nearly empty and a few of use were sitting near the nurses station filling in paperwork. Not sure how the conversation started bu there were a number of stories told.

The first was of the ward where I was. One HCA said there was one night that she and another Nurse saw a black cat walk around from the side room, behind the desk and into the treatment room. The main out patient/minor injury unit was next door, and on more then one occasion it seems that a nurse in old uniform was seen. That's even more odd, as the old cottage hospital was said to be haunted by an old staff nurse who used to sit with patients who were dying, and was seen to do the same thing many years later.

Other Nurses had worked elsewhere. One said that she was at a hospital down south and came on her first day and saw a woman in a pink cardigan and a zimmer frame walk past her, and go into a day room. At handover, the nurse was told that all the patient were in bed. She mentioned the woman in pink to be told "That's impossible, she died overnight!". While at a different hospital, there seemed to have been a phenomenon of staff hearing a loud bang and walking sticks which had been on the wall found on the floor in a zig zag pattern without any explanation as to why. At the hospital where I am at, a different nurse told of a ward that is apparently haunted by a black man who does not speak English but is seen shouting at patients who seem to pass away a short while later. One woman was that distressed by the apparition that the nurse moved her to a side room whereupon the woman said "AHH, Its in here now!".

The CCU at the same hospital is said to be haunted by a man in black pyjamas who is seen walking into the toilets where a number of people have died. Apparently both staff and patient have seen it. The main entrance to boot also has been rumoured to be the place where a man with bad facial burns can be seen wandering with a drip stand.

The old General hospital (and a former workhouse) was reported to be haunted by two doctors. One was a surgeon who committed suicide by cutting his wrists one evening in the theatres. Apparently he then regretted what he had done, and went into the scrub room and started running the taps to clean the wound. The theatre would from time to time be found to have the water in the scrub room running without the taps on. Another doctor was supposed to haunt a corridor. A radiographer was walking from the locked door when a doctor asked for the way to another department. The was was locked but the security guard was up the corridor with the key. The doctor thanked them and walked away, and that was all was ever seen of them. Bit odd as there was only two doors to choose from. The old ambulance station has a grey figure seen on CCTV, and crews reported something grabbing their hair at the top of the steps. Something similar was reported at another ambulance station where crews felt a heavy hand pressing their right shoulder. Years ago at least two ambulances carried bodies to be seen by a doctor to the station for certifying, but nothing solid. One other reported ambulance station (now closed) was where an ambulance man collapsed and died in the station in the 1950's near the gents rest room. For many years, staff walking along there were pushed toward the wall.

On my old internship ward, one of the side rooms was reportedly haunted by a patient, and some patients reported a presence in the room.

All rather far fetched I think but entertaining enough. oddly though, the only really "spooky" thing in my time of Nursing happened when all the tales had finished and we were back to the real world. The phone rang, a HCA answered it, and put the phone down.
"That was the ambulance service" she said "That new patient we were meant to be getting was found collapsed at home and died in the ambulance on the way to A&E".

Saturday, 22 November 2008

My simple act of faith

There have been those days when one takes off the scrubs and thinks "whats it all for?". A few days back now was one of those days. The day itself for the elective part was easy. I scrubbed for a case which proceeded to angioplasty which was unremarkable. I remarked to the physiologist that "if the next one goes for by-pass we will be OK for the early finish". No prizes for guessing where the next case went to. It's not a nice thing to have to say- I know that we only see the patients in the Cath Lab for a short space of time, but even so some patients find the whole idea of surgery very daunting.

It was while restocking the lab with equipment that people were talking of the possible early finish, and it was said "yes, but there is still time for a STEMI". That's S-T elevation myocardial infarction, the common or garden heart attack. This was true, and yes, there was a STEMI phoned in. Knowing that we had a bit of time to play with, the lab was made ready, doctors bleeped, nurses scrubbed, drugs opened and equipment prepared.

At first we were told a name, and they would be seen in recovery.

Then we were told they would come directly into the lab.

Then we were told they were in the hospital.

Then the ambulance crew came in at a fast pace with the trolley.

Then we transferred the patient.

I removed, with help, the dressing gown, and prepped the groin.

Then the patient arrested.

We shocked. Nothing. Drugs. Nothing.

"can somebody else CPR?" the doctor asked as the patient was big. I stepped up.

I did CPR.

A physiologist did. A second physiologist did.

We shocked. Was the charge getting through?

I did CPR. The three of us took it in turns. CPR, shock, CPR, shock. We were trying that hard to get compressions the cath lab table was bouncing up and down with the force of our efforts.

Temporary pacing wire in. The compressions kept going. The C-arm swung into place. One poor sod was trying to do CPR and their glasses ended up half hanging off. They didn't stop going.

The screening was done. We shocked. More CPR. Non shock able rhythm. More CPR, more drugs. For 40 minutes we tried, for 40 minutes 3 of us did compressions, the anaesthetic team controlled the airway, the cath lab team put lines in, gave drugs, and made every effort to save the patient.

Starting to feel exhausted, I was the last person doing compressions...when the doctors agreed. There was nothing more to do.

I stopped the compressions.

The monitors recovered from compression rhythm. Only one long line was showing. I stopped, removed my leads, cleaned up the lab. I wrote the patient labels out. I checked the date of was today's date, "whats the date of birth" I thought. Then I checked the year. The only change was the YEAR. The patient was no older then my own parents. Only 20 years older then me. Heck, proberly if they have kids they are only my age. I packed the few belongings away. The worst thing was the small bag of tablets which had thoughtfully been packed for the patient. Nobody thought that an hour before this would have happened. We tried. I was one of the first to do CPR, I was the last. One cannot help but think how many shattered lives we come into contact with, even indirectly.