I did hearing and vision screenings all morning, which are never my favorite days. While kids are my favorite part of the job, they're not as fun when I have to keep masses of them in line. From there, I thought I'd get a step ahead and swing by my middle school to fill out some paperwork that was waiting on my John Hancock. I left my phone at a friend's house and hadn't yet retrieved it, and I'd been thinking how nice it was to be sans cell phone: my schools hardly call me anyway, and when they do, it always seems to be about lice.
I was in for a surprise when I walked into my middle school. The staff looked at me with relief and ushered me into my office, where one of the diabetics there was in distress. I'd never seen anything like it: she was not coherent, couldn't speak, but at the same time, crying and making noise. Conscious, but barely. Apparently they found the girl in the cafeteria, half-carried her to the nurse's office, where they'd called my cell phone and her mom. It was purely coincidence that I walked in at the right moment, and I got busy getting a blood sugar on her, because she was way too far gone to get it herself: 36. By then mom had arrived, and I announced to the growing crowd that I was calling 9-1-1. The principal nodded in agreement with me while the mom suggested that she'll get better in half an hour; she was dribbling in some orange juice, after all. I repeated I was calling for help, while the mom just stared at me blankly with clearly a "why" on her face. What seemed like hours later, though really only four minutes by my watch, the paramedics and fire department arrived. They also took a blood sugar (40) and whisked her away after a quick assessment. There wasn't time to mess around, and it's unsettling to see even the paramedics debate just what the best way is to get a line in her the fastest.
It wasn't until this event had passed that I was able to process it. I'd come in to do some paperwork, and happened to have timing so impeccable that I'm pretty sure I just earned the one week vacation I'm taking starting Wednesday. What concerned me most though, was the overall attitude, both the mother and the staff. I honestly can't say for sure whether the student was able to swallow; had I had glucagon on hand for her, I would have used it. That alone is a very scary fact: I can't count the number of times I have taken glucagon from a parent and told myself I never wanted to use it and was sure I'd never see the day; I don't know a single other nurse in our district that has even considered using it. I don't know what would have happened had I not shown up, and it didn't appear that most people understood the gravity the situation, including the principal and the mother that were in the room. I've been through more than my fair number of emergencies, and none has fazed me the way the one today did. Having the parent in the room, disputing my phone call to the paramedics (even if I was sure I was doing the right thing), was so disconcerting that my hands started shaking, maybe to compensate for her own lackadaisical attitude. “She'll be fine,” she said. I honestly wonder what would have happened if I hadn't shown up. Would the staff had thought to call 9-1-1 at some point? Would the student have maintained the semi-conscious state she was in? She was so far past the normal point of consciousness, I'd have called 9-1-1 even if I couldn't get a quick read on her. Bleh: I am having trouble even putting the severity of the situation into words, and it's these kinds of days that make me really sure that having me split my time between schools isn't safe for students...but sitting at one site all day doesn't make sense financially, either, for the district.
<Sigh.> I have some friends who are teachers, and jealous of my so-called flexible schedule, and that schools don't always have tabs on me. What I always say, and especially after today, is this: You don't want to be the one everyone is looking at during an emergency.