In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sink or Swim.


by Marites Avisado-Responte

Being an ICU nurse, I have been dealing with all the noise that is meant to help and save life. From monitor alarms, to call bell and up to code 99. The cardiac and breathing arrest or code 99 is the most nerve-racking call at all times. It comes when you least expect it, which in turn brings your timetable upside down. At the time the code button is pressed, noise inside the patient’s room is inevitable. Doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist who do the rescue attempts, can’t hold their voice down. Cues, prompts and order need to be within the hearing proximity of the team, not to mention, families peals of crying and the alarming heart monitor could contribute into it. Spending one hour or more in the code is a lengthy way of drowning yourself to a much-needed noise. But if saving one’s life necessitates to be as chaotic and noisy as this, so be it.

Call bell is another one. Nurses are most willing to drop anything they do at its single release. A call from the bathroom could mean that the caller is struggling to get up from the toilet seat. Some patients would use the call bell to bring the nurse around just to reach for them a cup sitting on the bedside table; although they are capable of doing so. Calling bell could, indeed,  blow our patience away or disturb our 20/20 work focus momentarily. Sometimes, its takes a while before nurses are able to get back to previous momentum. But it is always advisable to go and check the patients promptly, before they are found on the floor.

The incessant alarms which are predominant in our waking moments, especially in the workplace, do not only keep us on our toes. They also haunt us. In ordinary days, when sleep is so elusive to get by, I call this noise my lullabies, like bees buzzing in and out of my pillow lulling me to sleep. When I am taking my shower, the high pitch shrill sound of the alarm follows me, droning inside my brain, audibly blending together with the pattering sound of the water dripping against my scalp.

The sound from alarms keeps playing in our senses, although we are no longer in the workplace. Is it because we just privately groan and bury our frustrations within the depth of our being? Or it is it because noise suggests something of stark significance? Whether the call is to save life or to annoy us, we must be alert to respond to alarms and act responsibly.

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