Just another day at the office.

One of the hardest parts of working at the hospital is when patients become violent. Like tonight. I just got off of an eight-hour shift at the doctor’s office and then another four hours at the hospital, and it certainly was not the way I would have chosen to end my long day.

The patient was already visibly agitated when I came on shift. He was wandering and seemed to be pacing by the nurses’ station, and since this patient had been violent towards staff in the past, I tried my best to keep an eye on him.

Of course, that doesn’t always work out because as I often do, I get swamped with charts and I can’t always keep one eye on my work and one on a pacing patient.

He seemed to have been triggered by the beeping of his neighbour’s IV pole. That’s how the RN thought it started, and I agreed with her. He began wandering into the nursing station, clenching his fists and grinding his teeth. We managed to get him redirected and sitting in a chair, but he was still using very aggressive body language and tone of voice.

It happened very quickly. He escalated to the point where he struck several of the nurses. Our facility uses a team response, so once the code was called, nurses from other departments came to the floor to create a presence, and the patient was what they call “contained.” I had the pleasure of calling 9-1-1. The RCMP were very quick to respond, which I was extremely grateful for. It took six of them to restrain the patient which the nurses got him sedated and onto the stretcher where he was able to be properly restrained. I was able to page the “all clear” once the patient was taken off the floor.

Overall, I can admit now that I was terrified. It is true what they say, that in situations of extreme danger or duress, the training does kick in. My pulse didn’t rise, my anxiety didn’t trigger. I was a little bit flushed, but I kept it together. I was able to keep my voice clear and calm when I spoke with the 9-1-1 operator, and I was able to stick to protocol and not deviate. I kept myself safe. I’m proud of myself, really and truly.

It didn’t really strike me what had happened, and the potential of what could have happened, until my shift was over and I walked out the front doors. I didn’t shake, but I did get a bit teary. My adrenaline sort of kept me steady. Once I coasted off of that on the way home, I did get a bit of a headache.

My only thoughts now are just… how difficult it was to not get right in there and do something. I love the people I work with, I care about them deeply, and it’s very difficult for me to just stand there and watch them be assaulted. I know there was nothing that I could have done, no more than I did, but I find it really difficult. And I realize that at the root of it all, the patient in this situation was not completely at fault. Strokes do terrible things to good people. It can turn a lovely, docile man, into an unreasonable, violent one who can’t be reasoned with. And it’s really sad.

I don’t know where I was going with. To make a long story short… I had a very intense night at work and am in dire need of a hot chocolate and a bubble bath.

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