As you may or may not know, I am a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. That is just a huge mouthful of words that means that I do ultrasound. I have to admit to you, I used to be lucky enough to work in the field of my passion: Obstetrics… pregnant mommies. But since the birth of my child, and the overwhelming desire to stay at home with him as much as possible, I have taken a job as an Ultrasound Technologist in a busy hospital.
Ultrasound Resonates is a way for me to share stories of my experiences in ultrasound. Privacy and HIPAA will always be protected in these stories, but they are really a way for me to share an accounting of the people that touch my life through my work.
Last night was a busy shift. It had been slow nearly all day, but as soon as all of my day-time co-workers punched out, the Emergency Department punched in. Within fifteen minutes, there were several ultrasounds in the queue, and my evening help wasn’t scheduled to come in for another hour. I sent for a few of the patients, knowing that by the time transport got them to me, I would no longer be scanning solo, and I got to work.
When you’re busy and behind, it’s very easy to get frustrated by the exams that are ordered, and the people that you get used to seeing in the ED. We call them “Frequent Fliers.” Some of our most common customers are young pregnant women who are mistakenly told by their friends that if they go to the Emergency Room and say they are in pain, they will get an ultrasound and find out the gender of their child. We HIGHLY DISCOURAGE this practice, mostly by completing OB ultrasounds without ever showing or telling the mother what the results of her exam are. We point out very clearly from before we even touch her with a probe that we are not allowed to talk about the ultrasound, and that the doctor in the ER will tell her what the exam showed when she returns to her room.
One of the transporters dropped off an ER case for me, and left. I glanced up at the camera and saw a young woman in the hall with her husband waiting. A quick check of her ER chart told me that she was about 10 weeks pregnant with abdominal pain.
And then I did it.
I made a snap judgment.
I immediately assumed she was one of the young ladies that came to the ER to see her kid. I instantly found myself upset at her for wasting my time, and coming to the hospital when she could have just stayed home. I wasn’t rude or mean to her when I brought her into the room, but I wasn’t exactly warm and compassionate either. My snap judgment had made me curt, even cold towards her. When I had her prepped, I started asking her the routine questions.
“When was the first day of your last menstrual period?”
She told me.
“Which pregnancy is this for you?”
‘This is my tenth.”
SEE?! There, I was RIGHT. My snap judgment was RIGHT. She just cant stop having babies. I bet she does this every time. Just keeps coming back to the hospital. I bet she keeps having abortions. I see it all the time.
“And how many children do you have at home?”
Seven children? Holy crap. Who wants that many kids? How many of those are accidents?
“Ok. So you’ve had two miscarriages or abortions?”
She paused. “… No. I had a baby last year that died at 4 months old of SIDS, and 3 months ago I had a miscarriage at 18 weeks.”
Wow. Take a breath here, Mandy. That’s some heavy stuff to go through. No one deserves to have to deal with that.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how difficult that was.”
She then proceeded to tell me what was going on, how she’d been feeling pain for a few weeks, and assumed when she went to her OB appointment that they would tell her she had a urinary tract infection. When they didn’t find anything, she started to worry. With her recent history, her mind just wouldn’t rest. And I could completely empathize with her. I even had tears in my eyes as she spoke. Every night when I put Ronan to bed, I worry that he wont be there when I wake in the morning. It’s a very REAL fear that she has already lived. My worst nightmare has been her reality.
From that point out, things were different. We talked, we laughed, and I found out that she is actually an amazing person; a loving mom, a caring wife and a hard working nurse. She told me about her seven children at home, and how each one of them was planned and lovingly awaited. She told me how all of them got their names. She said how they have partners that they help take care of and get ready in the mornings, and about how when they go to the grocery store, people always come up to her and compliment her on her well behaved children. She could tell me things about every single one of them, each one as precious and amazing to her as the last.
Last night, I found out that she was the kind of mother that I want to be. When she left my department, I had nothing but respect for her. While I didn’t get to tell her anything, I let her go with the peace of mind knowing she was about to find out her baby was ok. And I found out that my snap judgment was dead wrong… as they almost always are.