It was another busy afternoon, chaos spilling out of each interrupted life like the charts toppling over the secretary’s desk. Call lights flashed above half a dozen patient rooms, the medics kept bringing full stretchers and departing with empty ones, and anxious family members swarmed the nurse’s station like angry bees.
Then there were the patients. A 17 year old strapped to the backboard in spinal immobilization after another driver plowed into the side of her vehicle. Broken glass scattered through her hair like sparkling confetti, adhering to the drying blood from her scalp laceration. Not quite the day she had planned.
A 52 year old man with a history of heart disease and a recent onset of chest pressure sat waiting for the lab results and a doctor’s scan of his EKG. His anxious wife held his hand underneath the tangle of wires attached to his chest. Waiting to see if her husband’s heart was going to keep beating. Not really the day she envisioned this morning.
My charge nurse pulled me aside. “I need you out in triage.”
Inwardly, I blanched. Triage was the hot seat, the buffer between an impatient populace and the controlled turbulence of the treatment rooms.
Everyone thinks their emergency is the most important. Tough calls need to be made, and it is the job of the triage nurse to evaluate and expedite. To calm the masses. To clearheadedly assess the situation and determine who needs what, when.
You might ask,
What does all this have to do with motherhood?
More than you know, my friend.
Motherhood is so much like the ER, because:
- It will overwhelm you if you let it. You know that chaos I mentioned? Yep, chaos. Life with little people is wonderful, beautiful, and filled with opportunities to be completely and totally overwhelmed.
- It will not go as you have planned. Bad attitudes, stomach viruses, and interrupted nights will crash into your beautifully color coordinated schedule, and this is okay. They will survive, and you will survive. Pinterest days are few and far between for mere mortals such as you and I.
- Evaluate. Yes, girlfriend, you get to triage. When you have to excavate the couch from the laundry and the sink is full of dishes, and the kids are acting like orangutans? Triage time, baby. This may not be your most popular moment. It will pass. In the ER, we follow the ABC’s (airway, breathing, circulation), and in motherhood, it’s Attitude, Behavior, Circumstances. That means you take the time to sort out the sulking kindergartener before addressing the two year old for throwing blocks, before loading the dishwasher and dryer. (Ask me how I know.)
- Calm your little patients. If they see Mama staying cool, they won’t even know how close you are to running into the bathroom to scream.
- Laugh if you can. Connect with the ones you serve. It will bless them and you.