The other day I was at work, being the best CNA I could be. Truth be told, I'm probably not the best CNA around, I've got a lot to learn, but I think most of the Nurses enjoy me being around. One of my main responsibilities is to record the vital signs of all the patients. This is not all that hard, basically I walk from room to room and read the monitors for blood pressure, oxygen, respiration, heart rate and temp. I do this three times a day, and then make sure the numbers get recorded in the book.
Every patient's vitals are recorded at 8, 12, and 4. Every patient except those that are on comfort care, which unfortunately means that they are closing in on the last minutes of their life. At this point we are only concerned that the patient is comfortable and are allowed privacy with their family and friends, so we don't disturb them unless it's necessary.
So, as I said, the other day I was at work being the best CNA I could be. I arrived at a little before 7 am, got some small jobs out of the way and took a round of vitals. Everyone seemed ok, under their circumstances. One little lady, however, was alive, but hardly living. She was fully dependent. At some point during the morning the family decided to take her off all the machines. I assumed we were moving into comfort care. Around 12 I was getting ready to take another round of vitals, but before I got started I asked the nurse about vitals on the little lady to make sure I didn't need to take hers. Apparently, this was a dumb question, because I received a very sarcastic answer. "Yeah, John, why don't you go count respirations for a full minute so it's accurate." I picked up the tone, and realized that vitals weren't necessary, but here's the funny thing. It wasn't a comfort care situation at all, and had I taken a respiration count, I would have been standing there staring at my watch for a long while. Apparently, at some point after we took her off the machines she had passed away. I don't how, but I failed to pick up on this. Actually, I really didn't pick up on it, until about 45 minutes later, when the nurse asked me to get the bag so we could take care of her. I said, "Sure." Then I realized I didn't really know what she meant by "the bag". So, I asked "What bag are you talking about?" "The body bag." "Oh."
Finally, I linked the sarcastic comment to the situation, and asked the nurse if the little lady had already passed when I asked if I should take her vitals. "Yeah, John. Where have you been?"
At any rate, it served for a couple laughs in the midst of a less then funny situation.