Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mixed insanity. Controlled.

I don't know what bothers me more: the fact that I saw/touched/witnessed a dead baby in the NICU or the fact that it doesn't bug me as much as I thought it would. I felt awful, but also like I was learning, looking at and touching this poor little guy. He was so small, infinitely smaller- he didn't even seem real. He had been born 10 weeks early, which had given him a lot of disadvantages.
The nurse told me the parents didn't want to see him. I understood. That's not the memory you want. She was in process of taking a handprint and footprint and photos to put into a memory box for them.
That did get to me. I choked up at that point.
He died of NEC which affects a lot of premies, unfortunately. His head felt really boggy, and his abdomen was distended. The nurse who had been working with him was sad, but she also knew she and the team had done everything she could. She felt like it was a difficult battle for 12 hours. Once blood pressure drops and your blood stops perfusing your vital organs, it also stops perfusing things like your GI tract, and that means you have fewer defenses/less circulation going to the places that need it. Even with the heavy antibiotics he had been on, it just wasn't working. Sometimes, it just doesn't. Sometimes no matter what you do, it's just that patient's time.
The rest of my day in the NICU was much less emotional. I got to hold some of the cutest, tiniest little people I've ever seen, including one who had Down's syndrome and was the most adorable little guy. He loved following people with his eyes. I wanted to love him all morning, but he had other plans: sleep.

I also saw babies who had successful heart surgeries, who were doing well. It wasn't all gloom and doom- and the level of care I witnessed in the NICU was AMAZING. The nurses were extremely aware of hygiene and of taking care of the entire family. I was highly impressed by their abilities to work with parents, and their deft abilities to calm the newborns. The doctors that came in where communicative and kind. One apologized for waking up a sleeping little girl, and promised, "I'll get her back to sleep"... and he did, gently rocking her. The NICU was a medical place with heart. I can understand why people work there, and I'm glad I was able to experience it.

This quarter is flying by. In fact, the year is flying by. We're almost 3/4 through the MEPN year and it's hard to believe. I feel as though I learn so much every day, and it's difficult to keep up blogging about it, partially because my free time is spent sleeping or writing papers, partially because it's tough to find the words to write.

If you become a MEPN, you'll understand.
Wow it's almost over. I keep shaking my head. But now the next problem comes around, and that's the lack of jobs for new nurses...