Current Occupation: STNA
Former Occupation: STNA
Contact Information: I'm currently a nursing student in school for my degree to be a RN. I'm 24 years old and I enjoy writing short stories. I hope to make a difference and this essay shows that I did for one life.
Just another normal Thursday night at work; the buzz of a busy day was coming to an end. Dinner had been served and bingo had been played. Nearing the end of my shift, I was asked to assist a fellow aide to put the last resident in bed. With a bounce in our step we entered her room. “Must be almost time for you girls to go home,” the resident responded to our peppy entrance. Jokingly we answered, “How did you know?” “Well…” the resident started, “I only see you girls this happy when the night falls.” Smiles were exchanged as we continued our duties and helped her get ready for bed. She was unable to stand and support her own weight so we used a mechanical lift that took her from a seated position to standing. In the lift, she made the normal moans and groans as we positioned her over the bed. “Going down,” I happily said, knowing that those were the words she loved to hear; the lift was not the most comfortable thing in the world. With a smile on her face she started to feel the bed underneath her.
In a split second she went from smiling to a blank stare—a glazed absent look—accompanied by a pale face. Knowing that she had passed out in the lift before, we unhooked and removed the sling while swinging her legs into the bed. I started to do a sternal rub to try and awaken her. She took a huge gasp for air—deprived like she had been underwater—and then nothing. I looked at the other aide and said, “Get the nurse, now!” As my coworker went running out of the room, I made sure that the oxygen was in place and working. I continued the sternal rub trying to get any reaction I could. Within seconds I heard the sound of several people running in the hallway. The nurse arrived armed with her stethoscope and she immediately listened for a heartbeat; silence. Knowing that this resident was a full code, the nurse burst out of the room to call 911, yelling back “CPR.”
I immediately started chest compressions as I instinctively remembered where to place my hands and how far to push down; lessons I learned at a refresher course a few months prior. I was on count 11 when the second nurse on duty ran in with an ambu bag. I finished my set of compressions as the other nurse delivered two breaths. I continued on to another set—one, two, three—and another two breaths were given. It felt like an eternity before I heard the siren from the police and ambulance. Within seconds the EMS squad was in the room. As I finished up a set of compressions, a young paramedic was standing next to me ready to take over. Just as another set of breaths was about to be given the same loud gasp for air came from the resident. The paramedic listened closely and announced that he heard a faint heartbeat. With that, we grabbed the sheets—working like a well-oiled machine—and slid the resident from her bed to the stretcher. “Please help me,” the resident uttered as she was slowly coming to. Straps were being buckled and tightened as the medics rolled her out of the room and down the hall. I watched from the resident’s window as she was loaded into the ambulance and driven away to the hospital.
By now it was almost 15 minutes past shift change. I gave my report to the aide following me and headed to the back to clock out. Still feeling the adrenaline, I gathered my things and headed to my car. Sitting in the driver seat was when I first realized that my hands were shaking. I sat in the dark and quiet parking lot to clear my head and calm down. Working as an aide for so long with the same residents makes it very hard to emotionally detach yourself from the situation. I almost felt as if I had just performed CPR on one of my family members. I was almost in tears as questions raced through my mind. What if she doesn’t make it? Would it be my fault? Did I do everything I could have possibly done? I stayed parked in the quiet dark a little longer, trying to calm myself enough to drive. After making the short drive home, I called my mom. Even though I couldn’t tell her the specifics, I had to share with her what I had just done. The next day I learned that the resident was in stable condition and would be returning to the nursing home after the weekend. A wave of calmness came over me; I was relieved.
Recently, on a day I didn’t work, this resident had another episode. The staff and paramedics were unable to bring her back. I have learned that death is inevitable working in a nursing home; we can’t save everyone every time. Although she has passed, helping extend her life made me proud of myself and helped me confirm my choice to be a nurse. This experience taught me to think quickly and just do my job without second guessing myself. One mistake and we could have lost her. Before this event, I had only wanted to become a nurse to advance in the healthcare field; now, it is much more than that!