Wednesday, May 24, 2006

lost art forms

the laying on of hands is truly a lost art form. tonight, i was asked by one of the floor nurses to come evaluate a baby who was quite agitated and setting off her alarms. this baby has quite a complex past medical history and has plenty of scary reasons why she could be setting off alarms. so, with respectful trepidation, i walked in to her room (after washing my hands, of course...hey, we've got a pertussis outbreak here).
she was lying in the crib, exposed, mottled, crying. her sat was 78, she was breathing 60-70 times per minute. i listened to her chest, a cacophony of sound that is a testament to her cardiothoracic surgeon in Boston. no crackles, though. no heart failure. no pneumonia to explain why she is needing more oxygen. she's still crying. i look around for her mother, who is usually, tirelessly, present. however, she is not. she is hopefully home getting some much-needed rest.
i decide to stand-in, imperfect as i may be.
i rub her back, make soothing sounds. shhh. you're ok. shhh. i covered her cold little feet with a blanket.
i look at the monitors, still blinking red alarms, but numbers that are moving in the right direction. respiratory rate down, oxygen saturation up. crying stops. she sleeps again.
the laying on of hands. it may just be coincidence, but i'm going to delude myself and believe that it worked.


sister smile said...

When my dad was on a ventilator following a triple bypass. I made a point of touching his feet (his arms and hands were wrapped in padding to keep him from pulling out his tubes). They were very, very cold. He was barely conscious and on quite a lot of morphine at the time. I didn't know whether he realized we were there, so I felt that it was important to let him know. I also thought that it might help keep him from getting agitated. I've never asked if he remembers it or not.

Wrkinprogress said...

Just remember, sometimes it really is the SIMPLE solution that works. :) Good job, GirlMD.


jasy said...

how sweet and touching! sometimes some little things which seems doesn't matter to us do mean alot to others.

Louisa said...

It's all about touch. Don't think for an instant that you were deluding yourself. That baby wanted to be touched and loved and reassured that it's short little life wasn't all about alone-ness and cold air and tests and feeling crummy. Being patted and soothed as a mama would do is a powerful healing tool. One that even grownups don't grow out of. Isn't that why Kangaroo care is so successful in the NICU? Babies who don't get touched, who don't enjoy the physical expression of love from their caregivers (and that includes their physicians!), die much more frequently. Perhaps it's hard to quantify but every mother on the planet will tell you it's true. Love is good for humans. We should all remember that. I hope you try laying on your hands again. You'll probably find it helps more often than not. Well done.

stockingup99 said...

Why did mom have to go home to sleep? State of the art NICU runs everything with baby on moms chest, all the time. Kangaro care. That poor little baby needs its mommy. Forcing her to choose between sleep and being there is cruel.

Thanks for being there and caring. Please consider moving policy over the next decades to not separate baby and mom.