To be health care professional (in my case, a nurse) and at the same time a critically ill patient is hard.
To see the faces of teammates to attend you, monitors, techniques that are practicing you… everything is a summation and you know where you are going.
I am an emergency nurse in a a third level Hospital of Barcelona. Young and healthy. One night, my head started to hurt, it was a pain I felt never before… And some hours later I saw virtually dismissing me from my family and my colleagues, and asking the doctor (my partner) of emergency if he was going to call the intensivists. And later, I asked to the intensivist if he was going to intubate me.
Knowing that you leave your life in hands of your mates, that they are going to do everything to save you, fighting to your side. You can imagine what you feel like when you know that they are going to sedate you and you do not know what will happen!
I remember those professional eyes that attended me, the look of concern. My life was their work. I resisted to sleep: I went to my induced coma asking if my children had been infected and begging them to take care of my family.
It was hard. It could happen to anyone, but it happened to me. I caught an Influenza H1N1 flu with pneumonia and fulminant respiratory failure.
I have no memories of the first 8 days under mechanical ventilation and pronated. Some flash, some feeling. It was not right to be extubated, my lungs didn’t work.
But if you thought it was hard to be admitted in ICU, it´s harder the weaning of mechanical ventilation. You open the eyes, try to orientate yourself. You get it minimally (you are still under the effects of the muscle relaxant and sedation). You can see all the cables and drugs that you take. You note the pipe and the probe. You have cough and the ventilator sounds (a sound that I will never forget). With the unpleasant sensation of coughing, you put your hands instinctively to the throat, which the nurse thinks that you’re disoriented and you want to remove the tube.
To this situation previously explained, add the physical restraints. What feeling of defenselessness!
Trying to communicate is impossible. And you try, but it doesn’t work. You want to ask and you can not. You want to know and is impossible, you depend of what they explain to you. You see they give you drugs, but what is it?. You say no with the head when you see your partner with the bag of enteral nutrition (I really hate it).
I was oriented by the shifts of the nurses. You know, how different I could see my room depending on whoever comes through the door!. I have only words of thanks to everyone who was concerned for my.
But there were people that lit up the room. When you know that it happened to me, but it could be anyone, you see it reflected in the faces of your teammates.
I could write a book about how you get worse in emergency, on how weaning is (it was the hardest and although it was progressive, for me it was an eternity), on what reflects your face as professional (my fellows) to the patient (I assure that the face is reflection of what you feel), on the professionalism of public hospitals (today I am alive thanks to the professionals), about prior amnesia what you suffer due to medication, about the time of extubation (very hard), about things your mates explain you, on recovery (blessed myopathy of the critically ill patient that practically makes you have to learn to walk or taking a simply shower alone seems a superhuman effort).
I have an infinite love for life to emergency team, especially to Santi. I looked his face changing each time he came into my box.
To all my nurses and auxiliary mates!. To Carmela, who help to me and my family. To Mauricio and Marcos that fought hours in those early moments. To Judit, my doctor. To Jesus by trusting my lungs that day (what a hard moment the extubation!). To the ICU nurses (Dory, Celia, Gemma, Alex, Elena D., Elena L., Julia, Montse and to my eternal Tati). And to all those who know me because I don´t, because of have been sleeping!.
To all those professionals I owe the life!. Thank you from my heart! You did very well your work!.
For my family was a true humanized ICU. They take care of them, inform and treat them with affection.
It could happen to anyone, but it happen to me.
Hospital Vall d´Hebrón