My name is Sydney and I am a second year nursing student at Queen’s University. This past week I came very close to coming in contact with my allergens (peanuts and tree nuts) in a hospital. One day of every week we have a class in which we spend the entire day in a hospital. It was my first day so I had no idea what to expect! I arrived that morning at 6:30am – it wasn’t even light out yet!
The day started off well with each of the students being paired with a nurse in order to ‘shadow’ them and get a better idea of what to expect when working in a hospital setting. After giving all our patients’ their medications, it was time for breakfast. I was assigned to feeding a man who was unable to hold a fork or spoon by himself. As soon as the nurse passed me his tray, I noticed the package of peanut butter sitting beside the toast. This is where things got tricky.
I brought the tray to the patient and asked him if he wouldn’t mind substituting another spread for the peanut butter since I was allergic. Unfortunately he didn’t want to try anything else. This left me in the awkward position of going back to find the nurse and telling her that I couldn’t feed this patient. I felt terrible that I had to back out of the only task assigned to me. The nurse wasn’t so thrilled either, to be honest – she looked slightly annoyed. I stood outside the room while the nurse completed the task, which seemed like it took forever! At that point I was assigned to go retrieve a chart from the break room. I was excited to finally be able to help out. Once again, my excitement was short lived. As soon as I entered the break room, I saw (and smelled) one of the other nurses eating a peanut butter sandwich while reading my patients chart. When I stopped right in my tracks, everyone stared at me. I was so embarrassed that I turned around and quickly walked away. Luckily I remembered about the plentiful supply of gloves in the hospital, so I donned a pair and returned to retrieve the chart. Regardless of the silly looks, I felt safe, and that is what matters.
Next week, I am going to make sure I carry my auto-injector on me while working in case I get into a sticky situation again. I never would have thought before this year that I might need to use my own epinephrine in a hospital! Now I know, when I say I carry my auto-injector, I literally mean: EVERYWHERE!