One of my two post-open heart patients has discharge orders. The better part of an hour is spent reviewing the discharge instructions with her parents, and observing them practice drawing up the right amount of each of the liquid home medications using syringes and a cup of water. This demonstrates they understand the difference between dose and volume, because too much digoxin or potassium can stop a child’s heart; not enough won’t do the job. I never get over the fact that we send parents home with newly taught skills that took weeks for me to master in nursing school. Most of them do just fine, but still…
Later, I’m helping Travis gather his things, because he’s discharging home too. When it’s time to remove his IV, I begin by carefully taking down the tape holding it secure.
“Just rip it off, Niki, okay? I want to get out of here sometime today.” He’s laughing at me, and I’m reminded again of how resilient kids are. It makes working with them so rewarding.
“Okay Boss, you got it.” I ripped off the first piece.
“Ouch! Shit! Leave some skin on my arm, would ya?”
“Okay, I’m going to get some adhesive remover. I’ll be right back.”
As I turn to leave the room, I see the animal therapy volunteer standing in the doorway. A medium sized brown rabbit is cradled in his arms.
The kid in the other bed has his little dog in his lap, and I know what will happen an instant before it does: Rocket catapults from the boy’s arms in a perfect arc, his forelegs stretched in front of him, his hind legs straight out behind. He touches down momentarily at the feet of the animal handler, bounces once, and then vertically leaps upwards nipping the rabbit’s backside. The rabbit launches from the arms of his handler, and they’re off. The animal therapist chases after, and Rocket’s boy starts screaming for him from his bed. Travis laughs, and Reege continues to lie placidly on the floor by his bed.
I run to the hallway, where Rocket is chasing the rabbit around and around the nurses’ station, until the rabbit leaps onto the desk before making a break down the hallway with Rocket in pursuit. In the other patient rooms, parents alarmed by the commotion, carry their children to the doorways to find out what’s happening. Several nurses chase the animals down the hallway, trying to catch them.
You can’t make this stuff up. There goes my quiet shift.