Chapter 1

He was practically screaming at me over the phone at the nurses’ desk. I wondered how anyone could summon so much energy at 2 am on short notice.

“I want you to give that digoxin now, young lady!”

“If I give the digoxin, the kid’s heart is going to stop. He’s bradycardic; his heart rate’s 45,” I shot back, meeting his energy, but shaking.

“Then get another nurse to give it,” he barked.

“Doctor Rathmore, there’s no nurse here who will give the digoxin. If you want it given, you’re going to have to come in and do it yourself.”

I’ll have you fired! I’m reporting you in the morning! What is your name?”

“My name is Niki Rossetti, R-O-S-S-E-T-T-I. Make sure you spell it right on that report.”

Simultaneously, we slammed down our receivers.

My name is actually Maria Nicola Rossetti. Ever since I was a kid, I felt the name was too long, bigger than me. My parents had this thing about using nicknames, so all through elementary school I was Maria Nicola. “What a pretty name,” everybody said. I wished I had a short, American sounding name, like Kim or Jill. Then in junior high, Miss Crewe, the girls PE coach said my name was too long, and started calling me Niki. It stuck, at least when I was at school. At home, Maria Nicola was written in my mother’s beautiful script on every gift for me under our Christmas tree, and decorates the envelopes of the birthday cards she sends to me each year as if it were lace.

Back to Dr. Rathmore and his patient with the low heart rate: After we hung up on each other, I drew a STAT level from a small vein in the ten month-old’s arm. The result revealed a toxic level of digoxin, the medication I held. It’s what caused the slow heart rate. I copied the result onto a bright yellow sticky note and posted it on the patient’s chart for cardiology to find in the morning.

No report was filed. The digoxin was discontinued. Later, the patient was discharged home on a much smaller dose.

I am Niki Rossetti, RN, and these are my adventures.