Thursday, December 12, 2013

I only get an eyelash in my eye if I'm in contact isolation.


You know I'm right. The only time on this green Earth when you get that stray eyelash poking your eyeball out is when you're gowned and gloved and elbow-deep in whatever assignment you've been thrown that day. Then you have two choices. You can finish your job with one eye jammed shut, streaking tears and mascara down your face, or you can rip everything off, leave the patient open to the wind, and run screaming down the hall going, "My eye! My eye!" 

Would you like to know what goes on for the other 11 hours and 15 minutes at work with five patients?

06:30 -- Drag myself down the block and up the stairs (or elevator. Okay, elevator.) Squint at night-shift coworkers and pray that one of them has been kind enough to make at least six gallons of strong coffee.

06:35 -- Thank anyone who's listening for making coffee. Slowly begin to chirp "Good morning" at fellow day-shifters as we straggle in. Claim a computer and attempt to write down room assignments, having to check the board at least twelve times to make sure I've written down the right rooms.

06:50 -- Begin looking up patients. The previous 15 minutes have been spent inhaling coffee at the speed of sound and ignoring the "holy God, how much sugar are you going to put in that" commentary.

07:00 -- Bedside report begins. The level of noise instantly goes from Lullaby League to NHL Sudden Death Overtime. Call lights and phones start ringing, and the Unit Clerk just about detonates from lack of sleep and sound overload.

07:25 -- Fourteenth cup of coffee.

(Phone begins ringing.)

07:40 -- I begin my assessments after jostling with 8 other nurses for Accu-Chek monitors. Some assessments take 10 minutes. Others take an hour. Once I didn't even have time to assess a patient before being waved frantically into the room where I found the patient was dying.

(Phone continues ringing.)

08:30 -- It's ON, yo! 10 nurses fighting over 2 Pyxis machines, one of which never has any medications in it, all trying to get our meds in and charted by 09:59. If we all have students with us, there are about nine-thousand people in the med-room. The noise level goes supersonic. All we need is a boombox and disco ball for a good time. And sequins.

(At the rate this phone is ringing, it's going to need a new battery.)

10:15 -- My phone rings. Again. "Make sure you do your acuities," drawls a pleasant voice that belongs to my charge nurse. "Sure boss," I say, knowing that we're supposed to have every-damn-thing charted by 10:00. Continue charging through meds and paperwork and charting.

10:17 -- Phone calls every 30 seconds to say, "Dr. _____ is here." "Dr. ______ would like to see you in room ___."  I've said, "If Dr. _____ can provide cloning services, I'll be there in a jif."

(Replace battery in phone.)

** Usually at this time, I've also sent one or more patients to the OR or other random areas in the hospital for tests/procedures/surgeries. This results in six-hundred more phone calls.**

***Also, because nobody ever has a spokesperson for their family, we also field another thousand phone calls from concerned family members. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to be in the patient's room and can hand off the phone to the patient or a present family member.***

12:30 -- LUNCHTIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

13:00 -- Check on my patients. Administer more meds. Check blood sugars if they weren't done already. Try to catch up on charting. Surgical patients return around this time. I try to remember my own name.

(Phone ringer is imprinted in my mind to where I'm answering it and it hasn't even rung.)

14:00 -- Get the inappropriately unstoppable giggles from too much caffeine.

15:00 -- Have another cup of coffee just because it's one of my favorite CNAs who always asks, "Hey, you want a cup of coffee baby?" ... just the way she has for the last 3 years. Lots of hugging occurs at this time, too, because the afternoon shift is cuddly.

17:00 -- The afternoon flow of phone calls and family visitors increases as people get off of work. I'm glad I've finished most of my charting by this time, because holy cow.

(Phone rings... it's the afternoon physician visitation hour.)

**One of my daily goals is to make at least one doctor laugh. I consider this playtime.**

18:50 -- My eyes are peeled for the arrival of night shift. Mouse button and keyboard are smoking from the intense, insane clicking as I try to finish charting on time and get out before I rack up any more overtime. Usually by this time, I'm trying to drink enough water to flush some of the sugar out of my system.

19:30 -- Hopefully, I've clocked out at this time and am rambling down the street to my home. Hopefully, it's been a good day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be even better.

20:45 -- Showered and passed out. That is, if I'm off on time.

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