Tag Archives: break-ups

Return of Spontaneous Circulation

7 May

It’s a random shift in the middle of the week, a week I’m barely getting through. But I do my best to sleep all day and prepare for the night shift. I put on my uniform, manage to eat a couple of bites of peanut butter toast, force down a tall cup of coffee, place a cold washrag on my eyes to bring down the puffiness.

“Let’s do this,” I say to the mirror and listen to pump up music on my way to work.

At work, I’m told that I’m floating, which means I don’t have a patient assignment, I’m supposed to go around the department and help out any nurses that are busy. Not ideal for me at the moment as I’m truly looking for something to distract me, to keep my mind busy and away from the cyclical thinking that has been torturing me. But I do my best to find things to do. I see a doctor who is going to be discharging a patient with crutches, and she asks me to come help her apply the splint. We stand outside the patient room while he’s changing out of his hospital gown. She looks at me for a minute before saying…

“Are you pregnant?”
“No, I’m not.” I say loud and angry. I’m a firm believer that unless someone is very very visibly showing (6/7 months at least), you should never ask someone if they’re pregnant. Maybe they’re slouching a bit. Maybe they ate a big lunch. Maybe they’ve been lying in bed crying for days. No matter the case, don’t ask, don’t be an asshole.
“Oh,” she pauses. “But were you recently pregnant?” She had the nerve to double-down on the assertion that I look pregnant.
“Nope. Never been.”

I help her in the room with the patient, and as soon as she seems like she doesn’t need me anymore, I rush out of the room and head straight to the pantry, tears burning in my eyes. One of my co-workers that I’ve become friends with sees and follows me. She knows I’ve been heartbroken lately. I tell her what happened with the doctor, and she comforts me as best she can.

“She’s crazy!” she says. “I would kill to have your figure. You don’t look pregnant at all.”
“I just didn’t need this right now, you know.” I cry as she rubs my back. “I already feel so low, so alone, and I didn’t need this tonight.”

The radio I wear around my neck announces that a cardiac arrest is en route to the hospital. A second or so later, the charge nurse radioes me directly to say the patient will be assigned to me.

“Okay. I’ll be there,” I say as I wipe my tears on a rough paper towel and take a deep breath or two and tell my co-worker thank you, but I guess I have to go do work now. She’s an ER nurse too, she understands.

I run out of the pantry, my eyes still blurry from tears. I throw all my PPE on, the gown, the goggles, the extra face shield, grateful that it can cover my blotchy, mascara stained face to some degree. I run into the resus room as the patient is being wheeled in, a pretty large man who is intubated but the cardiac monitor is not showing activity. The doctor in the room says to start CPR. There are large EMTs present, and they’re usually the ones that do the chest compressions during CPR since it takes a lot of strength and stamina. I see a couple of them rolling up their sleeves. But I know this one is meant for me. I grab the stool, put it beside the patient, elbow my way past my co-workers and start my compressions.

These are the best chest compressions of my life. And unlike other CPR I have performed, I feel like I could keep going indefinitely. I look down at my criss-crossed hands on his chest and lose myself in the beat of “Stayin Alive.” My compressions are deep, even, perfect. I think only about hearts about how there’s one heart out there, somewhere in Brooklyn that I would particularly like to pound on, to beat until it hurts as much as mine. But this one will do, so I just keep going.

After a couple of rounds of CPR and medications, we do a pulse check and find that he has ROSC, return of spontaneous circulation. The meds worked, and he lived. This is rare. This almost never happens. Every time I’ve been in a code and performed CPR, the efforts were futile and the patient didn’t make it. Who knows why this guy did. Maybe he was young enough. Maybe the meds and CPR got to him quick enough. But he lived. It was another hour or two of stabilizing him and preparing him to be shipped off to the ICU.

A week later, I’m at drinks with some friends, going over and over and over my heartbreak, how I feel so confused, so hurt, still so low.

“Anything good happening, though?” one of them kindly jokes.
“I did CPR at work and the patient lived. I’ve never had a patient live before.”
“Woah, that’s incredible. Do you hear yourself?”
“I guess. I did the cardiac compressions. It felt good to pound on a heart like that.”

The last couple of weeks, I keep finding myself saying “There’s gotta be a metaphor in there somewhere.” Weird things that happen, things I notice in nature, the return of spontaneous circulation. What does it all mean? But I guess I’m not supposed to know. Not while I’m deep in the thick of it, trying to keep my head above water. I think the meaning, the metaphors are only supposed to make sense in hindsight. But for the couple of hours where I worked on that patient, did my job as a nurse, all my other problems and heartbreak felt so insignificant and unimportant and weren’t even on my mind. So while I keep thinking of metaphors, maybe it wasn’t that I was trying to push on someone else’s heart, maybe it was my own, maybe it was something about bringing myself back to life.

I don’t know though. Those answers aren’t here yet. I just know that my patient lived, and I guess I will continue to do so as well.

28 Before 28: Take a Boxing Class

8 Sep

In my 28th year of life, I’m attempting to do 28 new things. Full list here.

My gloves. They also came in pink, but I'll always prefer black.

My gloves. They also came in pink, but I’ll always prefer black.

A couple of weeks ago, I broke up with my significant other. It was something I knew had to happen and felt confident that it was the best decision to make. Between making the decision and when I actually got to sit down with him to do it, I had a span of four days to stew it over. In classic type A fashion, I spent a good amount of time researching tips to getting over break-ups, moving on, letting go, emotionally healing.

Did you know that science has shown that what happens in the brain of someone who is going through a break-up is nearly the same thing that goes on in the brain of an addict going through withdrawals?! The brain begins to lack the pleasure-inducing endorphins that it was getting from the companionship. It causes depression, feelings of sluggishness and even physical pain. One way to combat this is with physical exercise. So I found a boxing gym close to me and signed up.

My last couple of weeks have been flooded with work and amazing friends buying me booze and listening to be complain/cry. But I have managed to attend two boxing classes. The first one was with five middle-aged Hispanic ladies. I felt right at home. None of them were exceptionally athletic, and we were all sweating profusely and making ugly faces while doing something like 100 squats. It was 20 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength training, then 20 minutes of freestyle one-on-one time with a punching bag. The instructor showed me a couple of basic punches, and I worked on perfecting them. The class was perfect. I left exhausted and sore but with a clear mind and heart.

The second class I went to was me and three dudes. It was the same instructor as before and, and he spent a lot of time focusing on helping me while the guys did their own thing. We did a lot less cardio and strength-training and spent over half an hour with the punching bags. I was happy just bouncing around, jabbing and hooking to my heart’s desire. But the instructor honed in on me and lectured me on self defense. At some point it wasn’t even about boxing anymore as he told me to punch with my nail’s facing my attacker so that I could get his DNA under my nails?!?! Whoah! I was just there for stress release, not to learn how to avoid getting dragged into an unmarked vehicle. I found myself biting my bottom lip to keep from laughing as the scenarios got more intense. I mean, I’m glad I have an idea now of what to do if someone tries to stab me from the side, but I don’t expect that to be happening any time soon. I guess no one does though.

Thanks Mariners

27 Apr

Making a wish at SafeCo Field. 2008.

One year ago, life was horrible for me, the worst. I’d had my heart broken. I didn’t know where I was going to live. I didn’t have a job I loved or that I thought would take me anywhere. I was living in a lonely city with few people to turn to. I thought I might have breast cancer. I couldn’t eat. I was broke.

With all my problems weighing heavily on me, it made the little things so much worse. An ipod dying became a tragedy on top of it all. It might sound silly and a bit obsessive, but the fact that the Mariner’s were a horrible team last year made everything worse. I would try to sleep at night, all my troubles swarming in my head, and after I had catalogued them all for the millionth time, I would also think, “And the Mariner’s can’t win a fucking game!” I needed them, and they were just depressing me further. I even stopped following them. For the first time since leaving Seattle, I didn’t subscribe to mlbtv.com to watch the games. I just didn’t care.

I KNOW. I really lost it. I kind of kept up with the scores and news worthy updates, but I let myself not care for a season.

My life is back now. It’s not perfect, but it is probably the best it has been in years. Some days, I even feel like I have it all. So this year, when baseball season was coming back, I made the conscious decision to throw my weight back into my Mariner’s. Everyone predicted that they would be horrible this year…again. But I didn’t care. I downloaded some necessary apps to my phone, started following some key M’s blogs, and I started watching the games whenever I had a free night.

I’ve been fighting off a cold and a bad mood all week, so I stayed in on a Friday night to have some me-time and to watch the Mariners play the Blue Jays. We won. That’s the gist of it. But something more. Even at the top of the 9th when we were beginning our two-run deficit comeback with a Michael Saunders’ (not even one of our star players) homerun, I thought, “We still might lose this, but this is actually an exciting game.”

Good M’s offensive, good M’s defense, smart moves by the coaches. In the last couple of years, the M’s have been so crippled, so disappointing, the games haven’t even really been worth it. But tonight, home alone on a Friday night, I was really really enjoying this game.

Then at the top of the 10th, Michael Saunders (again, not even that great a player) got a Grand Slam that basically clinched the game at 9-5.

“SAUNDERS?” I said aloud to myself. “Saunders?!?!” My computer had been on the fritz, and it was freezing, so I thought maybe I saw it wrong. Then the ding-a-ling score alert went off on my phone, and I knew it was true. I was on cloud nine.

The M’s are playing surprisingly well this year. Granted it is April, and they still have room in the season to have a 14 game losing streak. But right now, things are fantastic. So goes baseball. So goes life.

Those that aren’t sports fans have a hard time understanding the utter devotion someone can put behind a team. It’s like everything worthwhile in life. Sometimes you are disappointed. Sometimes you don’t know if it is worth the effort. But when it’s good, it’s great.

The M’s have made me happy lately, and I’m so glad I didn’t break up with them a year ago when things were rough. While one year later, my life is back on track, I’ve had a rough week or two, and it’s like the M’s showed up at my door with soup, ice cream, and flowers.

Being a baseball fan is worth it. It’s worth the hours you spend in front of your television screaming at umpires, or your catcher, or your team’s manager. It’s worth the obsessive thinking about stats and lineups and injuries.

It’s nights like tonight that I realize just how much I love baseball.