Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike Day 2 & 3

Though I'm writing this over a week after the events depicted, I've backdated the post so the correct chronology holds.

The brunt of the storm finally hit the Medical Center in the wee hours. Rain lashed everything and the wind was strong enough to uproot young trees. The lights flickered when the generators came on, but otherwise there was no sign that power lines had failed. Through it all, a news crew van parked out front barely moved. It must have been heavily weighted. Never did find out if anyone stayed in the van. We heard that a few windows broke in the tower, though no patients were affected.

I left the desk a few times to assist others with baths and dressing changes, and of course to bust out some morale-boosting karaoke. One of the other nurses brought a karaoke machine and we hooked it up to a TV in a room. I sang John Denver's "Annie's Song," Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You," and The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry". Sadly, no one else took up the mic when I returned to the desk. In a post-apocalyptic world, I'd be useful. I can't bow hunt or fix cars, but I can patch up minor injuries, organize resources, and keep spirits up.

By first grey light, Ike was still over us though waning. Moving at only 10-15 mph and as large as it was it took a while for it to completely pass. The day crew came on shift reporting that the sound of the wind had interfered with a restless night's sleep. Seeking to avoid the travesty of trying to sleep on cots in an auditorium, our unit went en masse up to an ICU where most of the day crew had spent the night. In less than an hour, we were booted out. The PACU had developed leaks and patients needed to be moved back to the unit we were occupying. We scattered, most to empty consult rooms. I ended up in an office bedding down in a reclining chair. After a fitful couple hours, I moved to the linoleum floor. It was hard, but at least I could stretch out.

After a total of 5 hours sleep, I grabbed a quick shower and a meal before heading outside. A friend working at Texas Children's Hospital across the street had inviting me to drop by. We hung out and chatted for a bit before she got busy. Now that the storm had passed, there was a trickle of people bringing their kids in to the ER. After a semi-successful attempt at a nap, I went to work again pairing up with my former preceptor to care for a busy transplant patient. I can't take transplants yet, but I can pair with another qualified nurse to assist. She did all the charting and oversaw the care, I administered all the medications and changed out the fluids on the dialysis machine.

The mood was grim Saturday night. The storm was behind us, but no one had slept well and energy was low. The karaoke machine stayed in its bag. Sunday morning the managers sent the night crew to breakfast after we reported to the oncoming crew. Executive discussions occurred and we returned from eating to find out that we could leave. Friends took me home with only one detour around high water. Electricity was back in patches, but not at my apartment. The area of town where I live isn't low-lying so flooding wasn't a problem. Tree limbs were down everywhere you looked though. One had busted through the roof of my building causing a slow leak in the apartment above mine. The guy living there put a bucket under the leak and went back to his girlfriend's place.

I'd noticed the $1 store down the street was open so I walked to it looking to pick up the extra water and candles I'd forgotten to buy pre-storm. The store owners had a small generator powering one cash register. They handed out flashlights and let five people at a time roam the store. It seemed like some people lined up just as something to do. On the way home I noticed standing water all over the place so I cleared brush and leaves from a couple storm drains feeling particularly useful. When I got home I fell into bed. When I woke up around 8 PM, the power was back on. No cable & internet, but I wasn't going to complain.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting read! You are a captivating writer!