Kicking Ass & Taking Names

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Photo by Natanael Melchor on Unsplash

Today I renewed my CPR certification. Muscle memory — it’s a real thing.

I was lucky enough to be paired with another surgical nurse. My own age. We had done the thing. This thing. On real people. So many times we ceased to keep track.

We told each other a tale or two. “I remember…” This time or that time. The scariest ones. The weirdest places. The ones who made it. The ones who broke our hearts when they didn’t. The ones which ran like clockwork. And the ones which were complete chaos.

Humans don’t feel like the mannequins. CPR on a human is easier. The adrenaline is real. You have to worry about holding back. You WILL break ribs if you do it right. You’ll feel them give way under your hands. Don’t overinflate the lungs and get air in the belly — it makes the compressions less effective. In a baby, you can blow out a lung.

You remember this all in a blink — in real time. Your body does it without your mind consciously ticking off the steps.

In the ICU where I used to work — “I need help in here!” were the magic words. Nurses, respiratory therapists, MDs would pour into the room. The team well rehearsed and the dance flawless.

In class today, I laid my hands on the mannequin and gave compressions. I was surprised at the upgraded equipment which gave us feedback. My teammate and I had the highest score in the room. We gave the highest quality CPR of the 30 or so people there. My CPR teammate was retired now, only working part-time. I’ve been a nurse for nearly 25 years.

Our patient had the best chance of survival because our muscle memory — even old chicks like us — was the best in that room. We smiled at each other. There are no prizes in nursing for doing a good job. Except that. Our patient would still be alive when EMS arrived. Or the code team. Or when we rolled them down to the cath lab.

In the end — Death always comes for who He comes for. But every once in a while — He just comes to dance a bit. For those times — you have to know the steps. You have to have the rhythm. You have to keep time to His chosen beat.

I haven’t had my hands on an unresponsive human in a few years now. But this afternoon — I knew — I still had It. I still had the skills to dance with Death and keep up.

Namaste.

Everyone knows — you do CPR in time to the Bee Gees. True Story. If you ever wonder how fast you need to go — sing this song in your head & you’ll be fine.

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