Last Valentine’s Day I decided to wake up early and make my beau a homemade chocolate chip cookie cake, all decorated with a cartoon picture of us. It was going to be perfect, but I had to get up super early to get started on it. The problem with that is: I am not a morning person. Nevertheless, I am mixing ingredients in the bowl and decide that to better cream the butter and eggs together, I should use our new hand blender. It was working fabulously, everything coming out in the right consistency. The thing with hand blenders though, you know, is that what you’re mixing always gets stuck up underneath the blade. So naturally, I had to clean it out. Being that it was so early, I didn’t disconnect the blender from its electrical hub while I was cleaning it. So, when my hand slipped and accidentally turned the blender back on, my finger was in the way.
Fortunately, it was only my finger tip and I pulled it out rather quickly. But the blade still had enough time to make a few rounds around my finger tip and managed to macerate it pretty well. In the shock of it all, I didn’t feel any pain at first, but boy did it look painful! There was blood all over, and when I rinsed it with water, I got flashes of what it looked like (not pretty). And in that moment, not only could I not formulate any words (I kept saying “OW!” because it looked so painful, and I couldn’t figure out how to say anything else), but I couldn’t think of what to do. Every bit of nursing knowledge went on vacation in that moment and I stood in the kitchen waiting for an idea to pass by while I watched blood drip down my hand. Needless to say, my mom and step-dad came running in and we figured out enough to put a (clean) towel over it, apply pressure, keep it elevated and get in the car and head to the ER (the ER experience is definitely another blogging Oprah – perhaps another time). And (definitely) needless to say, there was no cookie cake at the end of the day).
Then this last week I got stung by a bee. I had been stung before and yes, it hurt, but I got done and scraped (not tweezed) the stinger out, cleaned it, rested it, and went on my merry way. I thought to myself, “Wow – that was easy. Not even an ounce of panic. This nursing stuff is really starting to come naturally.” HA – wrong. What school didn’t prepare me for was the next evening when my ankle started to swell, get bumpy, turn bright red, and itch like mad. I finally understood why puppies gnaw at their legs when they have fleas (it really sounded like I would bring relief – the itching was that bad). For five days I tried topical ointments, Benadryl, and had to manage the head cold I got from it as well. I slowly started to realize that this wasn’t covered in our text book. I finally had to cave and have a professional look at it before our big 40-mile walk this weekend!
My point is this: We learn all about different types of diseases and how to treat them in nursing school. We spend hours memorizing what to do when someone’s having a heart attack, or how to deal with a patient in traction. But the one thing nursing school has yet to really cover is basic first aid. Of course there are the things that everyone knows, putting ice on an injury, using antibiotic ointment, cleaning scrapes and cuts, but what about all the rest of it? How are we supposed to learn what to do when it happens to us, and not our patients? I feel prepared enough to care for an ICU patient s/p esophagectomy with anastomotic leak, but I can’t comprehend what to do when my finger tip is macerated with a blender or how to treat a non-anaphylactic bee-sting allergy. Really? Really. How can we be ready to tackle the world as nurses when we can only take care of other people’s complicated medical issues and not our every-day boo-boos. Maybe it’s just me…(oh gosh, I hope not!)…but maybe a first aid card should be required with the BLS certification.
I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.
By Ani Burr, RN