Thursday, June 2, 2011

The best perk ever

The place I work has some perks for employees which are really nice but haven't been useful to me at all. Discounts on childcare? Cool, but I don't have kids. Free meal on Fridays and very cheap meals anytime one is working? Great, but the food there is never vegan. 

But yesterday I got to go drag Mr. Polly in after my shift to check his vitals and most importantly, his oxygen saturation. And that was a gigantic perk for me.

Background: the Mr. has cystic fibrosis (google it) and the only time he's been hospitalized in the 9 years we've been together was about a year after we were married. I didn't yet work in healthcare & found the whole thing terrifying. All that the hospital staff could tell us is that he was experiencing an "exacerbation" of the CF. He spent a short while on oxygen and IV antibiotics, then got to come home. If I had understood things more clearly, it wouldn't have been as scary, but I really had no clue what was going on and was very frightened.

So when Mr. casually mentioned that he was feeling unusually tired and icky and might be having a exacerbation, I started freaking out. When I got up for work the next morning & he didn't stir, I immediately got in his face and checked for respirations and pulse. Oops. Turns out I don't like "the E-word" very much.  

Anyway, satisfiedthat he was (duh) not dead, I went to work & got permission to bring him in and check his vitals after my shift.

And they were just fine.  WHEW!

His oxygen saturation was a bit low ( 93-94%) but totally liveable. Some regular antibiotics should do the trick.

And I absolutely love working somewhere that will let me do that. I bet my charge nurses would even listen to his lungs if I asked them.  I love my facility & my management.

PS for the few non-nurses/nursing students that read this: oxygen saturation is important because that's what your blood does; brings oxygen to every part of your body so that it works. No oxygen, no working. A pulse oximiter is what I used to check Mr' s saturation. Normal is 95% and above. That means the air you're breathing in is making it from your lungs into your blood. Anything below 90% is not good, and that person should be on oxygen. If it goes too low, your organs don't get enough oxygen & stop working, which would mean you die.  If it gets scary-low even with the patient on oxygen, the only thing left to do is sedate & intubate them; just like on TV, they run a tube right down the throat to let a machine breathe for you. I hope to never have that happen to Mr. Polly or myself. Which is why I freaked out & brought him to work.  And he is fine, whew!  That concludes our lesson, boys & girls.

PPS Hey nurses, what's considered a dangerously low sat? 85%? Is that when organ failure is a distinct possibility?

1 comment:

  1. I am glad to hear Mr. PollyAnna is okay. I would be nervous too if it seemed like someone I loved was having even the slightest health problem.

    While most textbooks say oxygen saturation for a healthy adult should be somewhere between 95-100% on 'room air', it is a personal heart rate or blood pressure [example: athletes tend to have both low heart rate that would normally be considered bradycarda (<60 bpm)]. We have these ranges and limits that we look at to see what is 'normal' but sometime nurses tend to assess the monitors more than they assess the patient. Some people just run low or high and they function fine with that.
    For example, some chronic COPD patients function perfectly adequately with an O2 sat of 90-95%.