“Be sure to call me when you are ready to give it,” my nursing instructor ordered.
It was going to be my first buttock injection and she wanted to be there to insure that I would perform the technique properly.
A year had passed since I had done my first deltoid injection. As I prepped the patient’s upper arm, he had said, “Boy, you are shaking. This your first shot?” I told him, in partial truth, “No, it’s not my first.” After all, I had given an injection before…to an orange. Despite my anxiety and tremulous hand, that injection had gone well enough.
Next, I had performed my first thigh injection. The poor woman was emaciated, she had a severe case of tuberculosis. I felt her thigh before I went in with the needle. The depth of her muscle tissue must have been less than an inch. With the syringe in my right hand, held like a dart, I entered the muscle and instantly felt the needle hit a very hard surface. “You hit my bone!” she exclaimed.
Indeed I had. I felt horrible. Looking back, I resent the nurse who had ordered me to give that particular patient an injection. Even an experienced nurse would have found it challenging, plus she had known it was my first. Another salty ol' nurse, eating her young.
Before I go any farther, I want to let you know am joining
Having made the call for my nursing instructor to return to the unit, I picked up the cylindrical glass medication vial and read the label. Then, I drew the medication into the 3 milliliter syringe, leaving the needle in place, inside of the drug bottle. My teacher showed up a moment later and did a double check of the vial and syringe.
Walking briskly down the hall, everything was going well. I didn’t trip or anything.
Swinging the heavy wooden door of the semi-private patient room open, we proceeded in, side by side. Two burn patients lay in their beds, wrapped like mummies in white gauze bandages. The man in the far bed near the window was Mr. Johnson. He was moaning and writhing in pain. “Mr. Johnson, this is my nursing instructor,” I said in introduction. “We are here to give you your Demerol, it will help you with your pain,” I continued, “Please roll to your side, I am going to need to give this near your hip.” Rolling to his side, he asked in a pained voice, “This your first time?” I replied, “No, sir. No, it’s not.” My words, again, a partial truth.
The patient's Ventral Gluteal was my muscle of choice. Manipulating my hand, I located the landmarks for this muscle, to the side of the buttocks, towards the hip. Pointing at the exact spot I planned to give the shot, I looked up at my instructor. She nodded in approval.
After prepping the skin with alcohol, it was time to give the injection. My hand trembling, I bent my elbow and pulled the syringe back, toward my shoulder. Then, thrusting my hand forward, I slipped the needle smoothly into the muscle.
Immediately, I pulled the needle back out and looked up at my instructor. On my face was a huge smile. Sweet success. My eyes quickly shifted back to the syringe.
My smile dropped and joy turned to panic. At that same moment,seeing the, ehem, problem with my technique, my instructor’s jaw dropped and here eyes bulged in extreme surprise.
Turning the needle away from my instructor, I tried to hand her the syringe. “You do it,” I mouthed silently. In a scolding gesture, she firmly waved her index finger at me. She sternly mouthed in return,“Do it again. Now!”
Only seconds had passed at this point, when the patient started crying out in anger, “She hit my burn, she hit my burn!” In quick rebuttal, my teacher said, “No she did not hit your burn, but that muscle is not going to work for this shot, she is going to need to do it again.”
Quickly, I chose a new site, prepped the skin, and adeptly inserted the needle deep into the tissue below. My thumb depressed the plunger and injected the much needed pain medication, perfectly.
“Sir, you are going to feel better soon,” my instructor told him. “We will be back shortly to check on you.”
Shoulders slumped and head hung in shame, I walked to the door. Dread was filling my mind, anticipating the discipline coming.
My teacher opened the door and we exited to the hall. As soon as the door was closed tightly, she put her hand to her mouth. She was laughing hysterically! “I have never, ever, seen anything like that!” she managed to get out between her belly laughs. “Go take a break. We'll talk when you get back.”
I am sure that she rolled with laughter again at lunch, as she shared the story of my “perfect injection” with her colleagues.