I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve driven home with a head full of stories I’ve wanted to blog – meaningful stories, sad stories, ones that make you realize what matters, ones that make you want to run home and hug those you love, or get on the phone and tell someone you love them, and often times ones that just make you laugh out loud! And yes, there are even some that really and truly make you go “Huh?” I literally have hundreds of them – and so does every other nurse I work with.
Writing them is one of my most favorite things to do. Some people like to fish. Some like to climb mountains, or hunt, or swim, or run marathons. Not me. I like to write.
Recently, however, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of being too busy. Too busy to do what I love. And in the past couple of days I’ve thought over and over about many issues I’m mulling around in my head lately – and tonight I just decided I’m all done being too busy to do the things I love to do and decided – ALL DONE!
Not even half my shift was over today when I’d collected at least a half dozen things I could turn into a story, a laugh, a life’s lesson, or just a lighthearted joke. But then came the insult – the insult that turned into the joke of the day, not just for me – for everyone.
Let’s start at the very beginning…….
I have three separate alarm times set on my phone, and I hit snooze for each of them at least five times – maybe even ten once I am coherent enough to realize it’s Sunday. There’s no traffic at 5:30 a.m. on Metro Parkway on a Sunday morning. The walk is shorter into the hospital too. I can park in the basement and go through the tunnel. Yeah, it’s Sunday, so I hit snooze a couple of more times.
It’s dark on my way in, and it will be dark on my way out. That’s life for the next six months. This is Michigan. My shifts are long.
Coffee’s fresh. Awesome.
New assignment. Not so awesome.
It’s okay. It’s only 12 hours. I can do anything for 12 hours. (I can).
Feisty little old lady is lying in a lake – a brown lake. She needed a complete bed change, AND gown, and she screamed at us and swatted at us during the entire bath. She even pulled out her IV which sprayed all over the person who volunteered to help me. She didn’t care. She just kept yelling at us to stop cleaning her, and before I had gotten a fresh new gown on her (the 1st of 5 more changes to come this shift), someone poked their head in the room and hollered, “your other patient’s wife is asking why you are not in HER room.”
I sigh and remind myself that I can do anything for 12 hours. I can.
“Hi! I’m Rita. I’ll be your husband’s nurse today.”
The questions begin. “Why weren’t you in here when I got here? When was my husband bathed last? I tried to shave him, but your razors are horrible! Why can’t you get me a sharper razor? It doesn’t look as though you’ve put any vaseline on my husband’s lips yet this morning. Have you rubbed lotion on his feet? He loves to have lotion rubbed on his feet.”
“Maam, I haven’t even finished getting report on your husband yet.”
I returned to the desk where the night nurse shared with me the insults thrown her way for being a young nurse. The older, protective Mom instincts in me want to go school my patient’s wife, but I can’t. Little old lady pooped again – Yep, another lake.
I finished complete bed change #2 before 9 a.m., and was soon called back into my other room where apparently my patient’s wife believes it is a good time to do wound care. She insists that the baseball sized gaping stage 4 wound on her husband’s sacrum is due to the “new, younger nurse” not knowing how to gently remove tape. Ummm, yeah, okay. Then adds that the same young nurse had a difficult time turning her husband because she was pregnant, and remarks, “It’s not MY fault she’s pregnant.” Finally, I tell her to stop talking badly about my colleagues. We have an amazing team, and I’m not listening to any more of it.
Suddenly the code light goes off and I hear my friends screaming for help. We all run to the room. Ten physicians and nurses are trying to hold down a frighteningly strong man who is withdrawing from……. well, every street drug imaginable. It’s quite the scene. There are other rooms with family members watching – they’re scared. So are we. I chose the job of calling security. Three weeks ago, I was kicked, punched, scratched, and gouged by a patient for 12 hours – cuts and scratches on my stomach I’m still actually treating – so I’m glad to man the phone and call 911.
I return to my side and the Mom of a patient I cared for last week comes out. The patient wants to see me. She’s soooo sweet. I rubbed her hair and her head, and she squeezed my hand. She’s young, and really, really sick. Sure doesn’t seem fair.
It sucks, actually.
Ut oh. Wife of patient #2 wants me back in the room immediately. “His feet look dry. Rub lotion on them.” (But to be honest, I just want to go hold the young gal’s hand.)
“Rita! Your patient is lying in a lake again!” I’ll be right back……..
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth……..
“So when are you going to retire?” she asks. “My plan is to retire in five years, and I really hope I can make that happen!”
And then my patient’s wife looks me square in the face and says, “Why? What will you do when you retire? Sit around eating bonbon’s and get fatter than you already are?”
Yeah. I was feeling feisty at this point. “Will you excuse me while I go heat up my LUNCH?!!!” I said.
Now, it’s been a rough week for me personally. And I’ve been insulted more than once and have had my heart bruised by one purposeful insult in particular. So this one was like the straw that broke the camel’s back, and all I could do was walk away – AND heat up my lunch – AND share that insult with my friends so we could laugh.
Do you know what is pretty cool about nurses? If you tick off one of them, you tick off all of them. If you insult one of them, you insult all of them. And we can take any insult thrown at us and turn it into a joke AND a party, and we did just that – bonbon’s and all!
I know it’s only 12 hours. I can do anything. I can!
So I ended my day with no patients, and had time to go hold the hand of that sweet young gal. I thought it was the best part of my whole day until it got 100 times better on my way out the door. Her grandparents stopped me. They said thanks. They hugged me. One of our residents walked by and saw us. I turned to him and said, “You know what? Hugs are the best damn part of being a nurse.”
That’s it. That was my day. It was nothing but ordinary, yet, as usual – quite extraordinary.
Now, will you excuse me? It’s almost bedtime, and I’ve got a few bonbons I’d like to throw down.