Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adults Welcome

Working in a Pediatric ICU, we don't tend to care for adults much. Its just the nature of the game : )

But lately, we've seen an influx in adult patients for the weirdest reasons!!

Some of us were talking about putting a "NO adults allowed" sign of the door. You know, like when you were little you put the "No boys allowed" on your tree house door???

Ok, well I didn't do that either. I didn't have a tree house. And for that matter, when I was in elementary school, the 2 friends that lived closest to me (AKA: the ones that I played with the most) were boys!!

But I digress...

Taking care of adults is just another world all together!!! On Tuesday, not one, but BOTH of my patients were adults!!! It was like I was in PICU twilight zone!!

The one patient was a 20 year old with a very weird medical disorder that she has had since birth. She came back to our PICU because she hasn't transitioned her care to an adult team of physicians yet and was having a crisis requiring some very specific IV fluids.

This girl, ahem, woman is in college. She can sign consent forms for herself. I don't have to tell her mom if I am doing something to her. But I DO have to tell HER when I am giving her a medication, or doing something different in her care! Such a change!!

The attitudes of adult patients are so different too! We have parents complain about different things, but it's a whole different ball game when the patient herself is the one complaining! And it's interesting to hear the patient herself complain about her care to her girlfriend on the phone.

"OMG- You have NO idea how exhausted I am! I can't sleep at all in this place. And the stupid respiratory therapist came and just woke me up! Ugh, I know! He just woke me up to give me my albuterol treatment!"

I wanted to laugh. We don't tend to have patients that are well enough to talk on the phone, let alone ones with such adult opinions (or college aged ones!).

My second patient was a 32 year old woman (with 2 children at home) who has cancer. Now what in the world would a newly diagnosed ADULT cancer patient be doing in a pediatric unit!??
She has what's called a Wilms tumor which is typically a cancer that 3-5 year olds get! Since most adult oncologists do not deal with this type of cancer, she was referred to us. And she was in the PICU because she had a severe anaphylactic reaction to her chemotherapy the day before.

Let me tell you, this woman was amazing. She was so sweet, and had such a great attitude, despite being bald from her therapies, and feeling exhausted from not sleeping for almost 30 hours!

I have ALWAYS said that I never want to work with adults! Adults are bigger babies than kids most times. And adults have such strong, adamant opinions about most things that kids don't! Dont' get me wrong...parents of the kids that I take care of certainly have their strong opininos too, but it's just different!

But I must say, this this woman may have changed my opinion...slightly. Instead of cringing when I'm told the age of my non-child patient, I may just wait to see what they are like!

That being said, I am a PICU nurse through and through!! If I never take care of an adult again, I'd be ok with it. But it is nice to know, that when those strangers do come through our PICU doors every once and awhile, it doesn't have to be a bad experience! In fact, it may even make me laugh, smile, and truly feel appreciated by my patient!

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