College of Nursing

Trapped on the Stretcher!

Autumn, 1974- College Sophomore

“Class, after you finish making an occupied bed, put the side-rails up, put the bed in the low position, be  sure the patient is comfortable and all desired items are within reach including the call bell. Answer call lights quickly so that patients learn to trust you and do not feel the need to get up without help. Tell your patient when you will next check in and be prompt, ” instructed Professor Z. during our Nursing Fundamentals Skills Lab.

Patient's Call Button
Patient’s Call Bell

February, 2008 – Emergency Room Patient – 2 a.m.

I lay on the stretcher at with my head throbbing from the gash where I fainted at home alone the hour previously. I had a high fever and was heading for the kitchen when I fainted. I woke up on my dining room floor confused as to where I was and how I got there. God brought to my remembrance that my cell phone was in my pocket, so I called 911 because I was so weak I couldn’t even sit up. The paramedics came through the snow storm to my deck door which was locked. I managed to scoot over to the door and reach up and undo the lock. They kindly and gently applied a dressing to my bleeding head, loaded me on the stretcher and carried me out into the bitter cold and loaded me into the ambulance.

Trapped on the Stretcher!
Trapped on the Stretcher!

The ER nurse started an IV in my arm and started pouring the fluids into me because my blood pressure was so low. They did a nasal swab for flu which came back positive. The masked doctor walked in, introduced himself and said he would put staples in to close my scalp wound. I felt the prick of the lidocaine needle followed by stinging, and then my scalp became numb. I heard the “clunk, clunk, clunk…” 10 times as he put the staples in my scalp.  He said I would go have a CT scan of my head to see if I had any internal bleeding. The doctor and nurse walked out of the room and tightly closed the door since I was now in isolation to contain the flu virus.

After nearly a liter of IV fluids, I knew I would need the bedpan soon. I fumbled for my call light among the blankets. Where was it? I slowly turned my head and saw it lying on the shelf out of reach. I weakly called as loud as I could, “Nurse, Nurse!” I knew no one could hear me call through the tightly closed door. I prayed, “Dear Lord, Please send me someone soon to help me so I won’t have to wet the bed. You know how miserable I feel.” The minutes ticked by as my bladder became more uncomfortable. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes…..I couldn’t hold my urine any longer and wet the stretcher as my tears wet my pillow.

The door opened about 10 minutes later and I told the nurse what had happened. She looked at me with embarrassment at having forgotten to give me my call light, and apologized. She said they had a patient who had a cardiac arrest that they were caring for. I told her I understood. The tech came in and together they cleaned me up and changed the sheets and my gown as I rolled side to side on the narrow stretcher. They sent me for the CT scan which showed I did not have any internal bleeding, so they admitted me for next 4 days. They started me on Tamiflu medicine immediately which would shorten the course of the flu from 2 weeks to a few days. They diagnosed me with a concussion and discharged me home to recover.

Reflection – 2014

I have never forgotten how helpless, isolated, deserted, and forgotten I felt during those minutes on the stretcher when I didn’t have my call light. I was out of work for 3 months while I waited for my brain to heal from the concussion. When I was finally able to return to the nursing home where I worked as a Nurse Practitioner, I became acutely aware of triple checking to make sure my patients had their call light before I left their room!

Even though the nurse forgot about me that night for a time, I am thankful that God never forgets or leaves me or any of His dear children!

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

I was richly blessed this week in reading a selection from Miles J. Stanford’s None But the Hungry Heart.

“We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for out ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper much first be a sufferer. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:4   The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

Well, it is but a little while and He will appear to answer all enquiries and to wipe away all tears. I would not wish, then, to be of those who had none to wipe away, would you?”

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

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