Submitted by Kathleen Beyerman
“I’ve got a fainter here!” I call over my sister’s head to the flight attendant. My sister is sitting in the aisle seat, I am in the middle, and my new patient is sitting by the window. He has just announced to me that he doesn’t feel well and thinks he may faint. Sure enough I look at him and his color is similar to a Boston street after a snow storm before the plows are out – white as a sheet. At that point I had to put down the JONA I was reading and move into clinician gear.
So back goes his headrest. “Breathe slowly and deeply through your mouth” I gently admonish him. “What’s your name? I’m Kathleen.” Ever try to do a patient assessment while strapped into a seatbelt squished between 2 people miles in the air? That belt had to go so I could focus better on him. The flight attendant gives me a damp paper towel. A nice gesture, but not exactly what I wanted in a medical emergency. Just the same I apply it to Paul’s forehead like it was a piece of medical equipment – sure to help. I can’t get a radial pulse and his carotid pulse comes in around 50 beats per minute. I am thinking – are we the best this guy has got? My sister, Kristy, (also a nurse) and I are Paul’s healthcare team. The answer is – yep, under the circumstances we are. Kristy gets some orange juice from the flight attendant and I get him to drink it. Slowly he begins to look better.
After he seemingly recovers I point to the article that I had been reading. It had the word “nurses” in it. I tell Paul that Kristy and I are nurses. He smiles – “Ah, good passengers to have!”
As we leave the plane Kristy asks me “What is it with you?” I know what she means. She says “a man cardiac arrests in the Berkley Performance Center (1), a woman falls off a mule going down the Grand Canyon (2), a woman needs rescuing from a car fire by the side of the road (3), and a man has a heart attack in the flight to Florida (4).” All of these are situations in which I needed to go into “nursing drive.” She seems to think it is risky traveling with me. I’d say “the fainter” thinks otherwise.
(1) Beyerman, K. (1991). No, not now. In W.H. Hull (Ed). Nurse: Hearts and Hands (pp. 79-80). Edina, MN: William H. Hull.
(2) Beyerman, K. (2006). Bud, Betty and Black Jack. Advance for Nurses, 6 (3), 11
(3) Beyerman, K. (2004). Highway nursing. Nursing Spectrum, 8 (6), 22.
(4)Beyerman, K. (2005). In case I need you. Advance for Nurses, 5 (16), 11.