Before the doctor could say "balloon," on my right I could hear a drawer opening and the sound of a package being unsealed. To my left, the doctor spoke.
“Susan, strip the wire."
Then, I took a step back and gave the circulating nurse a pleading look.
Her transition over to the physician’s side was almost ballet-like and I did my best to watch her hand movements with the guide-wire and the balloon in the dimly lit room.
Contrast made it easy to see the inflation of the balloon in the duct above the stone, and after a couple of “drags" I watched the brownish-black calculi emerge from the stretched papillotomy. Seeing it, I had a child-like joy, as if we had grasped a carnival prize with the metal claws and the prize was now coming down the shoot.
As for the nurse with me, she said, "You’ll get it. It takes a while. Took me a good year or so."
It’s been almost a year and I am okay with ERCPs unless the team wants to use the Spy glass. When they ask for that I am going to holler. And my coworkers, they are going to do what they always do: teach, reassure, and stay close by in case I need help.
I’ve worked in several different areas of nursing over the last 25 years and was partial to my prior experience in endoscopy. I didn’t know it could get any better. But, it has.
My coworkers have made all the difference.
Susan Bartlett is a registered nurse from Florida. She started working at Orlando Regional Medical Center in 1986 and worked in high-risk obstetrics and medical/surgical nursing before her introduction to endoscopy. Her plan is to stay in clinical nursing for as long as possible and use writing to share her experiences.