I have no regrets about my career path, but it's certainly not what I envisioned when I became an ER nurse. I was not prepared for the kind of douchebaggery people dish out in this place. I know I probably sound jaded and hateful sometimes. People ask me pretty regularly why and how I do what I do.
This is how. Night before last, I can truly say I had a role in saving a man's life. A man who wasn't ready to die, who actually had a chance, but who was very much on his way when he came to us. My teammates and I busted our asses for about two hours to save him. I left work an hour late with blood and vomit residue on my scrubs. Exciting, exhausting, stuff, a nice change of pace from the CYA chest pain admissions and nursing home dumps.
Tonight I was back in the midst of my regular routine, when I noticed a familiar face coming around the nurses' station- the wife of my patient from the night before. She walked up and gave me a big hug, and with tears in her eyes, and thanked me and my charge nurse and our doctor for saving her husband's life. She told us he was up in the ICU, doing much better, and that he would probably be released in the next few days. She had so many kind things to say about the care he had received, even in just the short couple of hours he had been with us. She told me she could tell how much I cared, and that she would always remember my face- I couldn't possibly hold back the tears. Even our cocky cowboy doctor was clearly touched.
It's hard to describe the feelings surrounding this, the exhilaration, how important it is. It's not an issue of hearing someone praise you and say nice things about you. It's knowing that you actually changed someone's life, that you were able to help them for the better, and be there for someone who needed for you. It's really not something we get to do a lot here. But when it happens. Wow. It's like being on top of the world. It's something I'll remember forever. Something so wonderful that one million abusive drug seeking trolls can diminish it's joy. It's why I became an ER nurse, and it's how I do what I do.