Thursday, March 24, 2005

Critical care is going well

This past week was my first in an ICU. ICU has always been a little bit intimidating for me because I was once told that patients are generally sent to the ICU when death is imminent. I know that the patients are generally more sick that those who are on a general med-surg floor but they can survive, my mother has been in an ICU before and she is alive and well even though she manages various chronic illnesses. And then there have been people who were sick and placed on a general med-surg floor that have expired somewhat unexpectedly. Medicine is a mixed bag, you never know what you're going to get.

In the short time that I have been in the ICU, I have already had a patient die. She was a 60 year old female with a variety of chronic illnesses. She was on a ventilator and dialysis and she had a below the knee amputation. She was unable to speak, and I was trying to communicate with her by watching her eyes, reading her expressions and making suggestions. Her family wanted her to be a full code, which means that if she were to arrest, they wanted us to try and bring her back to life. Anyway, she went into respiratory failure and despite our best efforts, she passed away.

I have been spending quite a bit if time lately thinking about quality of life, especially with the whole Terri Schiavo stuff going on. When Terri had her first collapse she was about my age. I couldn't even begin to imagine spending the next 8-10 years of my life attached to a feeding tube, stuck in bed. My motivation for living would be my children, but would I really want them to see me like that? I wonder what Terri would say if she could momentarily come to and know that her picture has been splattered all over TV with her in a persistent vegitative state. I'm only a little chubby and I don't even want my family to take pictures of me!

This is going to be a rotation that is eye-opening. It is going to be a learning experience that I will never forget. I am not able to write the post that I want to right now because I have to get to Spanish class pretty soon, but I plan on working this Saturday and Sunday. (Yes, I have to work Easter. 12 hours!) After that, I will have some time to share.

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