palspicYesterday was . . . difficult. I had worked a stretch of five shifts, four of which earned overtime of one to six hours. I was scheduled to renew my Pediatric Advanced Life Support credential. On just over three hours of sleep. I could have rescheduled, but chose to go ahead and get it done. Not my wisest decision. I stayed awake and paid attention. Ate the delicious snacks. All was well until the first megacode. It wasn’t a difficult scenario, but my imaginary patient and I crashed and burned. I took a wrong turn at the top of the algorithm that guaranteed failure no matter how well I performed from that point on (and I didn’t perform particularly well). I was flustered. Embarrassed. The instructor pointed out where I’d gone wrong and told me I could retest today (something called remediation) and still pass the course. He was kind. I was upset. And so very tired. It got worse. I, who stay calm leading real codes and cry (if I have to) in the car on the way home, cried. People could see I’d been crying. There was nowhere to hide. Another instructor pulled me aside, gave me a moment and told me to breathe. I did. I passed the next megacode. Did well on the written test (even though I had to read each question twice). I’d gotten the crying under control. While I turned in my test, I ran into the instructor who (righteously) flunked me. He glanced at my test paper and said, “See? You know this.” Then he said, “I felt so bad...” and gave me a hug that threatened to start the waterworks again. I passed the repeat megacode. Got my PALS credential. Went almost immediately to a call room bed and slept like the dead. Today I debriefed myself. It turns out I learned some things. Here are my takeaways: - I’m human. So are you. Humans make mistakes. Sometimes more than one (I made several yesterday alone). - This is not about me. The fact that I was embarrassed showed was my pride was bruised. I’m doing this to help people. Not to look good. - Rest. You are no good to anyone when you are exhausted. - Know your limitations. Work within them. - Prepare. I had read the book but could have reviewed the algorithms so they came to me, if not like second nature, at least more readily under stress. - Be grateful for simulations. Mistakes are best made in classrooms on plastic dummies. The instructor that failed me did me a favor. I reviewed those cardiac algorithms furiously while waiting for my retest. He also did my future potential patients a favor too. When I see that rhythm on the monitor in real life, I know what to do.

2 Responses to “What Becomes of our Failures?”

  1. NameShirley Horn says:

    I enjoy your meditations in “Moments With Jesus” I live in way Northern Wi. Lots of snow,am 86.Love to read. Comes in handy long Winter nites. But,Spring is coming and I can get outside to work in my floweA different kind of gardening up here I the North Woods{zone 3}. I work hard not to get depressed sometimes.The dogs help sometimes {2 Doxhounds{can’spell ths right name, Yours truly, Shirley Horn

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