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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I said that.

I wasn't always the seasoned nurse that I am today.

Okay, I'm really not all that "seasoned" now either, but I have a little experience under my belt after 15 years.  Let's just forget the whole "seasoned" thing.

When people hear that I'm a RN, they always seem to assume that means I have a CLUE about how to be a fully functioning pancreas for my daughter 24/7/365.

Well...I don't.  I don't mean to disappoint them, and I'm totally honored that they would think all my hard work in nursing school could POSSIBLY equip me for such a role (because I worked REALLY hard, you know!)....but....I've been pretty much winging it for the past 6-ish, almost 7, years.

Sorry Dudes. a long, long time ago....

I was working as the Triage nurse in an ER.  I think I had been a nurse for, like, 3 years or something.  I had never seen, heard, or learned about what an insulin pump was.  I had no idea that such a thing existed.

Until this guy came in throwing up.

So there he was, puking all over my desk, while I was trying to complete his triage assessment.

"Do you have any history of medical problems?"


"Are you taking any medications?"


"Do you have any allergies?"


At this point it was clear that our conversation wasn't going anywhere.  I was trying not to take it personally, but he could have at least TRIED to answer me.  I mean, COME ON!

Sheesh!  Some people!

I figured I might as well go dig up a room somewhere.  I had no idea where I was going to put his poor puking soul, but got him a clean bucket and a wheelchair anyway.

We were rolling down the main hallway, when he said something like "I have diabetes and I'm wearing an insulin pump."


My first reaction was to ignore what he had just said.  I made no sense to me at all.

But I knew I'd need to clarify what he was trying to tell me.  I WAS the triage nurse.  HELLO?  It was my JOB to document his medical history.

So...I asked him to repeat himself.

And, again, he told me that he was wearing an insulin pump.

To which I replied:

(I kid you not.)

"Um.  You'll have to take that off."

I KNOW!  I can't believe I said it either!!!!!

He looked up at me -- pale with dry lips and heavy breathing -- and said:

"Over my dead body.  I'll decided IF my pump needs to be removed, not YOU.  Now go find that doctor."

On that day, I was thinking what a "difficult" patient he was being.  I mean, really!!!  No need to get so huffy about it.

For the record, I don't feel that way anymore. Follow Me on Pinterest


  1. Oh, my!
    But honestly how many of us now functioning as a pacreas knew about stuff like that before?

  2. Oh, my!
    But honestly how many of us now functioning as a pacreas knew about stuff like that before?

  3. life is so incredibly ironic.
    I am often amazed at what I said to my husband, how shallow my understanding of diabetes was...until Isaac was diagnosed. Having your child diagnosed changes so much.
    No matter what we said in the past, the best part is that we've now learned from it.

  4. Great story Wendy! The things God has taught us over the years.......

  5. Thank God the guy was not unconscious. Is that standard procedure.... cause that's scarey; the opposite probably of what needed to be done. ER nurses need to know how to proceed.... if low, remove pump; if puking or ketones not to. Why don't they instruct or warn ER personnel. There are a lot of diabetics out there; not an uncommon disease. You are in a unique position to get proper procedures in place. I'm sure you have done your best. Very ironic. Also ironic how many nurses seem to have diabetic kids... Don't know the stats but it is a personal observation of mine. Love the feistiness of your previous patient and hope our kids have the same spirit and common sense.

    1. This happened 12 or 13 years ago, when insulin pumps were significantly less prevalent. I wasn't even married yet, let alone a mother of a child with diabetes. I also didn't know that he was a PWD -- or that he used insulin -- for the first 15 minutes of our interaction, and he wasn't wearing any obvious medical ID jewelry to give me a hint that I should look deeper.

      I live on the other side of the country now, and can't do anything about the procedures from more than a decade ago at my former place of employment. But I can advocate, blog, and raise awareness to the best of my ability in the here and now.

      I hope my daughter will grow up to be a feisty advocate for herself one day ;) Gotta love those feisty diabetics!

  6. That IS ironic! Something that continues to bother me...that people in the medical field don't seem to be trained on type 1 diabetes. I wonder why that is? The nurse at our own pediatrician's office told me to give Ally some juice (just hours before we were admitted to ICU) when I was on the phone with her describing her symptoms. I realize that all medical personnel cannot be experts on every medical condition, but certainly it seems important for the ones in a pediatrician's office or an ER to know about it.

    Thank you for sharing this story, because even though it was many years ago and hopefully medical training and hospital procedures have changed, it is something that I want to make sure my daughter is aware of. One day, she could find herself in a situation where people around her do not know about T1 (and may need to!) Bring on the feisty!

  7. TOTALLY ironic! How crazy! Sometimes on the more difficult diabetes days I completely miss my naive self of years ago...not a clue about diabetes or any of the tools. Thank you for sharing this memory!


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While I'm happy to share our experiences with what works, and what doesn't work, for the management of Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease in our house, please do not mistake anything you read here for medical advice. Decisions regarding your/your child's health care should be made only with the assistance of your medical care team. Use any information from this blog at your own risk.