Measuring muscles with hugging machines

Stories - Carla Dino ScrubsFor the past five years, I’ve had the opportunity to have a profession in pediatric nursing.

People often say, “How can you work with sick little kids?” in response to me telling them I work in the pediatric and pediatric ICU settings as an rn.

I often think that people assume pediatric nursing is “just nursing” but on people of a smaller scale.

I’ll never forget the day a peds surgeon told us, a group of peds nurses, at an informational meeting, that “children are NOT just small adults.” They are not small adults, not anatomically, not physically, and most definitely not developmentally!

So, how do you know you’re a pediatric nurse beyond the typical “you know you’re a nurse when” lines. You know, 5 minute bathroom escapes being your morning break, excelling at getting and eating your lunch (often while on the phone) in only 15 minutes, wishing you could take just one sip of the ice water you’re bringing to your patient and considering yourself lucky if your shift stays under the 13 hour mark.

I mean beyond that, how do you know you’re a pediatric nurse? There are some very different and rewarding ways that you know you’re a pediatric nurse.

You know you’re a pediatric nurse when…..

You obsess about your patient’s urine and stool. Yes, as peds nurses, we count urine output in increments of 0.5ccs at times and we pray for poop! I don’t know any profession who is more obsessive about stools, their color, amount, consistency, etc., than pediatric nursing.

You don’t take blood pressures on your patients, but instead you “measure their muscles” with “hugging machines.” Don’t get me wrong, there are still times where it can take multiple attempts or sneaking a BP cuff onto a sleeping child to get an acceptable reading, but often the “let’s see how big your muscles are today” ploy proves to be helpful.

You look forward to giving stickers and prizes as much, if not more, than your patients look forward to getting them. I’ve been known to empty out not only pens, alcohol wipes and saline flushes  out of my pockets at the end of my shifts, but also Dora, Diego, Spider Man, and Princess stickers and tattoos!

You see a giant fire-truck looking machine coming down the hallway and it means it’s time for your patient’s morning chest x-ray. Yes, our portable x-ray machine is a giant fire truck known for taking amazing pictures of precious smiles… oh yeah, and lung fields, tummies and more.

You can easily go through an entire roll of tape in your 2 year old patient’s room in one shift only as an attempt to keep O2 sat probes, Oxygen tubing and EKG patches  on your patient! Again, this is usually only an attempt at success, because those toddler age patients win many battles!

You go into the procedure room with an army of 5 of more people to start an IV on a patient who weighs a measly 8kg! The procedure room often looks like a party prior to the IV start, with child life specialists, nurses, parents and toys and not uncommonly looks like a massacre after an IV start.

You listen for “bears and drums” instead of abdominal and heart sounds, often only after letting your patient first listen for those same bears and drums in your heart and chest.

Most importantly, you know you’re a pediatric nurse when you believe in magic and miracles.

Children are so resilient and forgiving, their innocence and strength is enough to bring a smile to almost anyone’s face, their hugs make your heart feel as though it’s melting, and their desire to “get better and go home” is something to be learned by all of us.

My passion for nursing is in pediatrics, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon!

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