Thursday, October 7, 2010


Things like this reinforce my belief in a higher power. It was the middle of the night in Recovery . We had 2 nurses tending to a patient who had just come out of a complicated emergency bowel resection and was going south very quickly. She was feverish and having respiratory distress. Of course not being able to breathe well was scaring the patient. Adding to the anxiety was the fact that she did not understand the English being spoken to her. She was a native of Haiti and spoke only Creole. No one could locate a patient rep who spoke Creole. Her family had gone home to rest. She was crying, making her struggle to breathe even worse. The Respiratory Therapist was setting up a ventilator. The anesthesiologist was preparing to start a central line.
 A housekeeping supervisor interrupted the chaos, politely asking if we would be there much longer- the floor needed waxing- and if we had any additional needs for housekeeping to address. This man had light brown skin but no trace of any accent. One of the nurses looked up from the gasping patient.
“You don’t happen to speak Creole, do you?” she asked in a semi sarcastic tone.
“As a matter of fact, I do” he replied.
Holy crap! We had a translator dropped into our laps. He spoke to the patient in soothing tones. She lit up upon hearing her native language. He explained to her what we were doing and why. She immediately calmed down and her oxygen saturation went up several points. When her anxiety lessened, her breathing improved. No vent needed after all. The central line was put in, and she was taken to the ICU.

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