Posted in health, Travel

Is there a nurse on board?

The lights were low and the background hum almost overrode the overhead announcement.  I had, as of yet, been no where near sleep and the following words instantly quickened my pulse rate.

“If there is a doctor or nurse on board please identify yourself to a flight attendant”  I could see, up ahead in the dark aisle, a couple of flight attendants. I sorted thru the screen options and found the one to use. Almost instantly a flight attendant appeared and I identified myself as a registered nurse. She asked if I could please come help.

Isn’t that every ones worst nightmare? Trans ocean flight with a health crisis half way there.

The female passenger was definitely unconscious.  I tried to rouse her while taking her pulse. Simaltaneously I asked the attendant if they had oxygen and any kind of monitors like a sat probe or even a stethoscope. I then asked the two passengers beside her to sort thru the backpack as they gave me what brief history they saw of the episode.

After I’ve given these “orders” (said softly but with an urgency), I once again tried to find the pulse and get a response. By this time the two flight attendants have returned, and once received, I got the oxygen mask on the patients/passengers face. The sat probe, to measure the oxygen levels, was familiar. The blood pressure cuff was not, but it didn’t take much to figure it out. Interestingly enough, it goes distal, just above the wrist. I wonder, deep in the back of my head, if this will give a slightly higher or lower reading.

The second flight attendant had an IPad and reached out to Mediflight (?) while I got readings. The numbers were satisfactory.  Blood pressure low but not crazy low, pulse high but not crazy high. Saturation is 100. She is very diaphoertic (sweaty), so I use the water from her neighbour’s glass and spread it on her neck and face.

I try again to rouse her, the regular methods failing. So this time, I use deep sternal pain, and it works. She responds weakly. Her eye lids flutter when I call her name. By now, her neighbours have found some medication; one an inhaler and the other thyroid medication. There is nothing to note here, I think, although I’d be the first to say my grasp on regular meds is a little light. The stewardess knows her name, so I use it and start questioning her. She fades in and out quite regularly as I work my way thru the obvious questions. Chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, numbness. She squeezes both my hands and states no to most questions.  It is hard to hear her because of the O2 mask, the faintness of her voice and that background hum.

She seems sluggish but slightly more aware. I continue to ask questions, some directed by the ?doctor? at the other end of the Ipad and some of them seem logical to me . 

I ask if this has ever happened before, and finally, I have a question with a yes. She went on to state it happens if she sits too long. Previous investigations turned up no cause, but apparently, the solution is for her to lie down. We make a plan.

So, as weak as she is, I get her to stand and lean into me. Sounds easy when it is written in a sentence, but it wasn’t. The other two people squish out of the space after grabbing their belongings.  I thank them for their help, and they thank me for mine. We get her positioned on her left side as by now, she says she feels like throwing up. Oxygen is still on, and she’s still diaphoertic.

I have continued to take sporadic readings of her blood pressure, and the sat monitor has stayed steady. The flight attendants and the iPad person want my assessment of whether or not we need to make an unscheduled stop ASAP. The patient/passenger hears this and says no. They did last time it happened and she doesn’t want to go off by ambulance. 

I suggest we reasses in 5 minutes after she has been lying down. Meanwhile, they found some Gravol for the nausea. After making sure she had no allergies, I gave her that.

The flight attendants grab me some water to drink as I am running on empty and am parched. We chat about where we are and where we would do an Emergency landing. They ask what kind of nurse I am. I mention I feel woefully inept as I have so little experience with this sort of situation. They, on the other hand, seem almost too impressed with my help. We talk about oyzgen tanks and how many they have. Basically killing time.

Times up, and I give the patient/passenger the total once over. She comes through with flying colours and asks to have the O2 removed. Tells me she is off to the Lake District to go walking. 45 mins ago, I would not have guessed this. I also thought she looked 75 or 80, but with her colour back, she now looks 64 again.

Mediflight stands down, we let her sleep with a condition  that she will put her light on right away if she feels it change to the negative.

I walk all the way to the back of the plane to stand and stretch. A different flight attendant gives me heck because I am in my barefoot. I said I hadn’t even noticed that when I rose to help with the medical emergency.  All of a sudden, she can’t be helpful enough and grabs me wipes to clean my feet before I put my shoes on. After I sit down, the first flight attendant shows up with 2 packages of every snack they have on board. Secretly, I was hoping they would flag my name and  upgrade my next flight to business class.

I checked on the patient/passenger a couple of times. The last time, we actually had a real conversation, and I stress to her that she MUST tell a flight attendant when she boards her next long flight what happens. Then I wish her well. She thanks me for taking good care of her.

My mom, also a nurse, always said that when off duty if anyone needed a nurse she would say she was a hairdresser. But she also said, and I quote, if you are stupid enough to ne a nurse be a good one. So I ignored her off duty advice but used my slim out of the OR nursing skills and helped someone in need.

At least it filled an hour of a long long flight. I still managed to read a 1250 page book.


Posted in photography, Travel

Timeless Cesky Krumlov

The rumble of tires on the cobblestone has faded away. The last straggling tourists are disappearing  for the night, and the streets are a peaceful oasis. The castle is shrouded in gold, and the streetscapes seem ancient. The only sound is a workman a few buildings down. The occasional tap tap tap of his chisel and the chiming of the church clock punctuate the silence. It’s time for a stroll.

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