Allie Sanford is used to a little chaos. As an emergency room nurse in a small town hospital, she enjoys the challenge of never knowing what might come through the doors on any given day. From cowboys to toddlers, Allie cares for a range of patients who always keep her on her toes. But on the day she receives a phone call from her mother, Allie is suddenly propelled into the kind of chaos that shakes her to her core.
After Allie’s father is rushed to the hospital suffering from a heart attack, she views the hospital in a different way. Determined to be a support for her mom and sister while watching her father endure a life-changing operation, Allie’s must rely on her inner-strength and patience to survive. But just when it seems that life is about return to normal, the situation takes a turn for the worse. Allie has to face her biggest struggle yet, both as a daughter and a nurse.
Heart Full of Trouble is the poignant tale of a nurse’s journey through personal tragedy. She learns it is the little things in life that mean the most and ultimately discovers a new professional perspective that will change her forever.
As a kid, my mother was very kind and nurturing for the most part, but she passed out at the sight of blood. As an accident-prone child, this left me to tend to my own injuries on a regular basis. Maybe that’s why I ended up going in to nursing. I had experience in treating injuries and I wasn’t squeamish about blood and body parts.
It was a good thing I wasn’t squeamish about blood, because right now I was trying to wrestle down a 3-yr-old with a huge gash on his head, and there was blood everywhere. His mom had carried him in to the ER a few minutes earlier, saying he had fallen off the porch and hit his head on the corner of a concrete planter. I’m sure his head hurt, but I think he was mostly just mad at being held down. We were trying to wash out the wound before the doctor sutured it up.
“Ow!” he screamed and kicked out randomly, barely missing the doctor’s leg. He was squirming and twisting his head side to side, making the task quite difficult.
“Logan, we need to cooperate with the nurse,” his mother stated in a calm, meditative voice from her chair in the corner. “They are trying to help you and you should appreciate that.” Logan was having none of it. He let out another howl and swung at my arm. I managed to avoid the hit without losing my grip on the kid. We had him on the counter with his head over the sink. His thrashing around was spraying blood, soap and water all over the counter, the floor and me.
“Logan, let’s think of a happy place and go there in our mind” his mother said. At least, I think that’s what she said. It was tough to hear anything over the yelling. I thought that a stern “Hold still!” would have been more effective on a 3-yr-old, but I knew better than to say that. Besides, most kids in that condition aren’t listening to anything we’re saying. It doesn’t matter if it’s soothing or commanding.
Lacey came in the room with the supplies for suturing and saw that Dr. Robbins and I were losing our battle with Logan. She slid in beside me and got a good grip on either side of his head, so he stopped twisting it around. I got his arms down by his side and used part of my body weight to hold him in place on the counter so the doc could wash out the wound. Logan was not happy about being pinned down and let out a howl. Ok, pinning down little kids isn’t the funnest part of the job. I reminded myself that it was necessary and for his good. The angry, hurt glare he was giving me told me that he didn’t agree.
Dr Robbins finally managed to get the wound clean and determined that it was good to suture. This was going to be even trickier than the washing was. We wrapped Logan in a blanket and carried him over to the gurney, laying him down under the bright overhead lights. I glanced over my shoulder at his mom and asked, “Do you want to come over here and try to keep him calm for this?”
“Oh no!” she cried. “I can’t see that stuff! I hate the sight of blood.” That brings back memories. I guess I’ll have to be comforting to Logan as I’m pinning him down. I don’t think I’ll be very successful. I burrito-wrapped him in a blanket while Dr. Robbins set up his supplies. He looked up at me to see if I was ready and I gave him a nod.
“Ok, Logan, we’re going to put some numbing medicine on here,” the doc explained to the boy. He was still crying half-heartedly and his eyes were wide with fear. This is where it gets tricky. The doctor injects lidocaine into the area to numb it, and I have to make sure the kid doesn’t move his head at all while the doctor has a needle in his scalp. I smiled down at him reassuringly.
“Logan, we’re gonna hold really, really still for just a minute”, I said. “I’m going to help you and you help me, ok?” Logan didn’t reply. I hadn’t won him over yet. I usually didn’t win them over until I gave them the popsicle after it was all done. I gently placed my hands on either side of his head to hold it in place. “Should we sing a song?”
He didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no, and I knew we needed a distraction. I started with the first song I could think of, ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’. Dr. Robbins was smiling amusedly at me over the top of Logan’s head. The song is more fun if you can do the hand motions, but my hands were busy. Logan had stopped crying and was just staring at me. Then Dr Robbins picked up the syringe and I tightened my grip on Logan’s head. He started injecting the numbing medication, which, ironically, burns when you put it in. Logan screamed and tried to squirm but I had him well-secured. The doc finished up the numbing quickly and without incident. I relaxed my grip on Logan’s head, since we had to wait a few minutes for it to work. After this part, the kid doesn’t feel the stitching, but they are usually scared enough that they cry and squirm anyway.
The spider had completed his journey up the water spout, so I moved on to ‘I’m a Little Teapot.’ For some reason, I could only think of songs that involved gestures. Since I couldn’t let my hands free to make a handle and spout, I just hammed up the melody to entertain the kid. Luckily, the door to the room was closed to muffle the sound of a screaming child, so no one in the hall could hear me. I hoped.