My adventures as a pre-med college student volunteering in the ER and trying to hold my own as an EMT student.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Candystriper down!

Tonight I went from volunteer to patient in 2.5 seconds. I walked in all jazzed up for the night because most of the rooms were full of patients and I had heard talk of a man with a brain injury needing to be tied down because he was out of control. Fascinating! I went around and made a few beds, checked in on a couple of patients, and said hey to all the nurses.

I noticed that one of the rooms had been closed off and a big blue sign had been stuck on the door, reading "neutropenia warning, consult with nurse before entering". Hmm... I had no idea what this meant and most of the nurses are happy to share their knowledge, so I asked the nurse assigned to that room what this neutropenia thing was all about. I learned that neutropenia is a fancy term for "low white blood cell count". Her room was blocked off because she was receiving chemotherapy, which keeps mutated cells from dividing and becoming cancerous tumors. Unfortunately, while the chemo keeps the mutated cells from dividing, it also keeps white blood cells from being produced. White blood cells are our bodies' fighting machine. They fight off infections and bacteria. This woman that had neutropenia was closed off from the public because she didn't have the immune system to fight off illnesses, and this left her extremely susceptible to even the weakest of germs. Side note: If anybody in health care reads this, please let me know if I'm right about this. I like to think I have a decent grasp on medicine, but I know I have a TON to learn. I'm probably driving the nurses crazy with all my questions, I just hope I'm understanding what they're explaining to me.

So anyway, this nurse was explaining all these concepts to me. Our conversation began to shift to the guy with the brain injury that was wrestled down before I had gotten there. I was hanging on every word when I began to feel a little dizzy. I brushed it off, since this sometimes happens to me when I stand up too quickly, and so I figured it would pass like it usually did. Boy was I wrong. All of a sudden, boom! The lights went out, and the next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed. Katie, my volunteer partner in crime, was sitting next to me, looking frightened and asking if I was okay. One nurse was pricking my finger, and another fed me some apple juice through a straw.

They soon determined the cause of my near death adventure (I managed to stay away from the white light this time around). My blood sugar took a quick spike after I consumed a large amount of Halloween candy (oopsie), which led to an even quicker crash. I literally did crash- right onto Katie, who somewhat broke my fall. Super awkward. The nurses made me sit there for awhile to recuperate, and after twenty minutes, Katie and I were already joking about it.

Me: Couldn't have picked a better place to pass out.

Katie: (Laughing at me) Yeah, and you don't even have to pay the gazillion dollars to get your blood sugar checked in the ER.

When the nurse came back to check on me, she told me that if I felt better, I could get up and keep volunteering since my blood sugar was back to normal. I wanted to stay, but I was a little shell-shocked and couldn't swallow the possibility of this happening to me again in front of a larger audience. I felt as if I had been through enough embarrassment for one night, and so I decided to head home early. Katie walked me to my car, and made me promise to text her when I got home safely. I think I'm just going to forget this night ever occurred, and hope it never happens again!

No comments:

Post a Comment