Today was definitely a day I approached with anxiety…

My CI was off today, so I was assigned to work with a different PT and her floor?…the ICU.

She swiped her card and the doors slowly eased open. I didn’t know what to expect. I guess I really did know what to expect and that is why I was worried. Our day started off with rounds. Great! Don’t get me wrong, a learning opportunity that I was definitely grateful for, but just not what I needed at the moment. One by one we approached patient after patient. The nurse would present stats, meds, updates. Each nurse seemed un-phased, some family members were in tears, other patients were all smiles when told about their progress, and most just lied there with lines surrounding them and a tube down their throat. The musky smell that surrounded us was all too familiar. I don’t know how to describe it, pretty much a mixture of bodily fluids and who knows what else. I know I sound bitter and close-minded. But I am all too familiar with this place, maybe not this particular ICU, but I’m starting to notice they are all very similar.

A life was lost today, and it hit me hard. I didn’t know this person, and the first time I heard about them was in rounds this morning. I took a glance in the room before we walked away, and I saw a young man, maybe around 20yo. He sat bedside with his head bowed and the patient’s hand in his. He looked up before I walked away, and I saw that look. The look of desperation, and it made my heart sink. I went on with my day trying to treat patients and absorb as much information as I could. Later on I could tell the mood of the floor had shifted, someone had “expired” as they say…it was her. Family was being taken into a conference room and organ donation was the topic at hand. Yet another aspect hitting close to home.

Today was hard. I felt distracted and unable to solely focus on my education. I know it will get easier, but right now it still isn’t. Although, I am trying to veer my focus. I do have some positive experiences I try to remind myself. I do not know how I would have survived without the amazing ICU staff I came to know so well in the past. They truly played a large role during the toughest situation I’ve endured. But THAT is what I hold on to. I will always remember their sincerity and continuous kindness. The nurses and physical therapists were the main contributors to keeping our spirits high. See I know what it’s like to be on the other side, and now I hope to use this as an opportunity. This may be an unbearable place, but now I can bring that smile when spirits are low, and I can bring that hope when all seems lost. Well, at least I’ll do the best I can.

Tomorrow is another day, and I honestly hope to work again in the ICU soon. From a physical therapy student perspective, it is a challenging area, and I enjoy challenges. I know it would be a great learning opportunity. Those hallways may always be daunting to me, but it does bring me comfort to know my role has changed…and now I stand on the other side as a health care professional (well almost).

* Side note: So obviously I have issues finishing what I start, but hopefully I’ll get used to blogging somewhat consistently soon.