Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I Am a Nurse...

Becoming a nurse is something that was a long time coming for me. Sometimes I think about going to med school, or becoming something higher up the clinical chain, but then realize I need to be a Nurse. Yes, I have rough nights...rough moments. The job is physically demanding, as I expected, yet I never realized I'd be so sick while starting out my career.

But something happened Saturday morning that put everything in perspective for a moment...all my nausea, aching shoulder...vomit soaked scrubs I had changed earlier (from a patient)...the infuriating patients & the ones who are golden...

I ran into the daughter of a former patient in the lobby. She saw me, called my name. Her mother is dying in our ICU. I knew, from taking care of her a month ago, that she was on a downhill course, but to hear about her code in the hospital (on a different floor) & transfer to ICU was still sad.

The daughter had accepted that it was just a matter of time before her mother slipped away. It was good to see her accept that. She talked about how scary the code was, what happened, about the Nurses on that floor before the code.

Then she said that she just couldn't let me walk by without telling me that she appreciated my care for her Mom...& her family...previously. She said I was the only Nurse who had taken time out to explain the whys of what was being done, not to mention listen to the family.

I was holding back tears. I said, "No, thank you for letting me take care of your Mother. I can tell she's a special lady." With that, we hugged & parted ways. In the elevator I let a few of those tears go.

Yes, I love the technical stuff. I enjoy wound care, complicated pathophysiology, seeing the body & medicine in action.

But, truth be told...the connection I make with patients & their families & my desire to help in the darkest hour is why I do this.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wouldn't you know....

...I start this blog, then get freaking sick for a month!

I have a stomach issue of unknown origin. Nope, not pregnant. Not Helicobacter pylori. Not C-diff.

Work has been a struggle, simply because my bad days stomach-wise make work virtual torture.

I still love my job, but feeling like puking 24/7 makes NOTHING fun. Heck, even wedding planning as been a chore. It's rather sad when your nurse is sicker than some of the patients. Still, I soldier on, working 5 of the next 6 nights. I have a diet of broth & french fries...the 2 things that don't upset my stomach.

I see the GI specialist on Valentine's Day. Yay. I'm actually looking forward to it & hope he gives me a nice endoscope for the "holiday." When the Zofran ain't helping, you know it's bad.

More to come....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

...and She's Down!!!

Feeling under the weather for a while...finally came to a head the last 2 shifts at work, so I'm taking a few days off & trying to get this under control. Blah. It's amazing that a condition I've had for 3 years that I tolerated now becomes intolerable when I have a demanding job. Yeah...Homey don't play that.

I do love my job, though, & I abhor calling in sick. So, you know I can't take it anymore when I finally do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Non-Resolution Resolution

After doing battle with chronic, yet acute gastritis for the zillionth time in the past 3 years, I decided, as 2011 came closer, to do away with the biggest trigger for me...alcohol.

Now, this is going to be a battle in of itself. It's not the buzz, per se, that I enjoy about my occasional glass(es) of alcohol. I actually enjoy the taste...except for beer. Ick.

I can do without beer, of course, & cocktails, but I adore wine. So, I'm discovering the small, yet growing, market of non-alcoholic wine. It's so small that there are only about 5 brands available worldwide.

Only one is available at my local supermarket, the "Fre" line of wines manufactured by Sutter Home. Sutter Home isn't my favorite, even WITH alcohol in it, so when I picked up a bottle of their unleaded (so to speak) white zinfandel yesterday, I was expecting the worst. Thankfully, it was a palatable alternative. Was it awesome? No, but it satisfied my yen for a glass of wine for the time being. More varieties are available.

I also ordered a sampler case from Ariel (aka J. Lohr) in Napa, CA. These alcohol-free wines have allegedly won awards over fine wines WITH alcohol. So, we shall see. The full report will be posted here.

This is gonna suck in many ways, but at least I have an alternative to the "why are you only drinking water" question at parties. I'll just bring my OWN bottle of wine.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Decade, Same Crap...

When I say "same crap" I'm alluding to my penchant for craptacular holidays. I worked Christmas Eve, Christmas & day after Christmas nights. These were my first holidays as a nurse, & I learned, the hard way, that only the most sick, most mentally disoriented, or most asswipey people are in the hospital at that time.

I also happened to work last night, on New Year's Eve.

Let me preface this by saying that I do love my job, i.e. being a nurse. Am I in love with acute medicine? No. I don't see myself working on that floor, or a related one, a year from now. I knew I'd get a huge amount of experience with a wide variety of patients in a short time by taking the job. Of course, I didn't know how severely understaffed the floor really was when I took it over any other position at the hospital. Granted, nursing in general is understaffed, but taking care of 6 or 7 hot messes at a time can sometimes be too much to offer the best patient care.

So, that was the dilemma last night, or at least the one that led off the night. We had no patient care tech. I love techs! I truly miss them when we don't have one. From 7 until midnight, we had no tech, which proved to be problematic.

A patient I had cared for before was now under the care of a nurse pulled from another floor. He wouldn't wake up for her to take some medication by mouth. She asked me if I was familiar with him, & I said I was. I also happen to have a booming voice. I spoke loudly to ask him to wake up, kinda shook him....nada. Next came ye olde sternal rub. Nada. She took his blood pressure. EEK! 74/57. Yep, time to call the doctor. 2 hours & some Narcan later, he started to at least open his eyes & look at us after rubbing his sternum. Then the pull nurse had to go, since we only had her until 11pm. I took over the care of this barely conscious patient...& 4 others whom I had largely ignored for 2 hours. They were stable & this gentleman was not. But, he was stable enough to check on regularly while I caught up with my other patients, who were thankfully understanding of why I had been gone for so long (a small blessing).

Thankfully, I did catch up...until we got slammed (down to only 3 nurses for now 18 patients, most of whom were either incontinent or hot messes who were too big to do anything for themselves). Several new admissions from the ED took us to capacity.

This was fine, as my new one wasn't too messy...simple nausea & vomiting. However, after I did her assessment & patient profile, I had to go clean up a patient who was basically one big, oozing, infected wound who had been patiently waiting for me to rescue him from drowning in his own ooze for the past 2 hours.

So, I spent an hour cleaning him up & changing his wound dressings (I love wound care!). By this time, it was time for shift change & report. The minute I left the patient room, the day nurses asked for report. Okie Dokie!

The problem was that the doctor had come in to see nausea girl sometime in the hour I was doing wound care. I didn't know this until the day nurse pretty much acted like I had 3 heads when she asked why her fluids were running yet. Well, I'm a new nurse, so many times the more experienced & less positive nurses make me feel totally stupid. I don't know why I had to defend myself by blabbering that I had been changing wounds for an hour & hadn't even looked at the orders for this patient yet. Excuse me for caring! This was a no-win situation, as if I had pushed off the wound care to the day nurse of the other patient, I would have likely gotten a death stare like, "how could you leave him for me laying in his own infection?" So, either way, I just ran out of time & did what I thought was most important. After all, I had no idea when the doctor for the new admit would actually make it up to see her, & I wasn't going to just sit around doing nothing, hoping they would show up before shift change.

Anyway, this bitchy nurse also had by previous lethargic patient who had been on close observation by me all night. Whereas he started 2011 without being able to tell us his name, by 7:30 in the morning he was full A&Ox3. I joked with him a little bit. Bitchy nurse just kind of rolled her eyes. I knew he had some anxiety about the narcotic fog he had been in for a few days. He asked me if he was going to die. I told him he wouldn't if we had anything to say about it. During this exchange, Bitchy nurse just walked out of the room. Really? Dude is afraid to die & pretty much almost did last night...& you just walk out?

Yes, I'm a new nurse. I'm slower & less cynical, I suppose. But, even as I develop that "crust" that comes with experience, our patients are still people. Heck, I had a shiteous shift, & I managed to never take it out on anyone I worked with, or gave report to. Maybe actually giving a crap about my patients makes me a little slower (along with my inexperience), but it still makes a difference for someone suffering. THAT is why I became a nurse.

Sometimes it's hard to find the compassion, but if you can NEVER seem to find it, or have lost all sense of humor, maybe it's time to take a break or find a new vocation. The funny thing is that in every dealing with Bitchy nurse, she really gives off that "I could care less" vibe. Her skills may be awesome, but that doesn't make her a good nurse.

I never, EVER want to be like her.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Once upon a bedpan...

...was a graduate RN, working on a medicine floor in a Midwestern hospital. This is her second career, so she's older than most of the other newbies with which she works. She likes to discuss adventures in nursing, while changing some details & no names or identifying info, so as to not rile the HIPAA gods.

Sometimes this blog will be about nursing, or medicine, or human behavior, or maybe just the minutiae of my personal life. Either way, I hope you find it to be of some benefit to your reading pleasure.

Let's begin this journey...