Get me through this traffic. My patient wants to get home.
I figured out that critical care nursing is like defensive driving. Defensive driving is defined as: driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.
We are nursing to save lives, time and money, in spite of the conditions around the patient, the reactions of a sick body, and others.
Getting the sick patient in an ICU bed is like merging a highway through a tollbooth. One lane is coming from the ER, one lane is trying to get in after decompensating on the floor, and one lane is trying to get in post-operatively from the recovery room.
The charge nurse is collecting tolls, and patient tracking is trying to direct traffic. The urge to move patients sometimes causes road rage.
The nurses are driving and we can’t give the middle finger to those blocking the box in the intersection when the light is green because we are too busy preventing a ten-car pile up on the side of the road.
It is not just about the movement for us. There are illnesses out there just waiting to cut us off. Sepsis is weaving in and out of traffic with it’s fast yellow car. It’s a high-speed chase and the bad guy ARDS is coming up on us in its blue sedan full of old school metal just waiting to ram us into the ditch. The dump truck filled with gastric content just flipped the bend and spilled the belly juice into the perforated bowel. The landscaper’s truck is spraying our windshield with the tiny rock clots of DVTs, and emboli are everywhere. The drunken sports car made out with the telephone pole and now we have a head on collision with bloody brains. Sometimes we get stuck in a bottleneck; this one-mile per minute stage two pressure ulcer is going to get worse.
We keep driving and nursing. We look ahead and see the crash before it happens. We drive to prevent accidents. Sometimes we have to take detours. Cruise control isn’t really an option. It’s a good thing we know our way around.
My Dad always used to tell me: Don’t crack my truck up.