August, 2005 Archive

August 31, 2005, 4:47 am

Take This Job And…Well…Do It!

I think Nurse Cherry needs an update. What hasn’t she done? Hmmmm….

How about “Cherry Ames, Correctional Facility Nurse” or “Cherry Ames, Substance Abuse Nurse”. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so even “Cherry Ames, Transgender Nurse” would not be impossible.

She was never a critical care nurse, an ER nurse, an OR nurse, a transplant nurse, a nursing instructor or a clinical nurse specialist.

Good grief, what did the woman DO?? Besides sitting around smiling or standing around posing.

I bet she was never burnt out.

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Burn out.

It’s an empty gas tank.

Hitting the wall.

Going numb.

Losing compassion. Not caring. Going through the motions.

Dreading the next shift two days ahead. Being in tears the day of the shift.

Feeling like you should call in dead.

It’s having nothing of yourself left to give; it’s all you can do to lift one leg in front of the other.

It’s hell.

Been there, done that, wiped up body fluids with the T-shirt.

A few years ago I decided I had had enough.

It was night shift from hell at Inferior Medical Facility.

I had a demented, elderly AIDS patient who spent eight hours screaming every known cuss word in the universe and described me in ways I STILL haven’t figured out.

To sum it up, he thought I was a ‘ho.

And of course he needed an IV, a foley and an NG. After four hours of this, I actually got him to be quiet for an half-an-hour by telling him, complete with hand on hip and index finger rocking, that…ahem…”…don’ you be dissin’ me in my ‘hood. I don’ disrespect you, you don’ dis me. You in MY ‘hood now so shut yo mouth.”

This out of a middle aged woman who makes Wonder Bread look ethnic.

The poor man closed his mouth and shut right up.

I think he was shocked. I know I was. I could hear giggling at the nurses’ station.

Across the hall was a four-point-leather restrained drunk patient screaming vile obscenities that made the old man sound like Mr. Rogers.

The highlight of the night was looking over and seeing urine flowing from the bed, forming a puddle that made Lake Tahoe look miniscule by comparison.

I left the unit that morning with a mission.

I was done with nursing. I wanted a desk job. Nine-to-five. Monday through Friday. Weekends and holidays off. No more blood. No more tubes.

No more death.

******************************

I found the perfect job doing pediatric telephone triage.

My co-workers warned me that I was an ER nurse at heart and that I would be bored stiff in six months.

Yeah, right.

The job was fun, the people were fantastic, talking to the parents and guiding them through their kids’ illnesses was fulfilling.

I had my own desk, my own computer and I learned more about pediatrics in that first six months than I had in all the years before. I could wear street clothes if I wanted but after one week of nylons at 6:00 am, I was back in scrubs. I was living the life. And then it happened.

I got bored.

The slow summer season started and surfing the internet between calls just wasn’t cutting it.

All my certifications came up for renewal and working in a clinic meant I didn’t have to have my TNCC or my ACLS or my ENPC or my NRP……..but I couldn’t let them go.

I missed the ER. I wanted to go back.

Monday through Friday isn’t all it is cracked up to be. I was working a day shift when I’m a night owl so I had to make myself go to bed early. I gained 25 pounds because I was sitting on my derriere all day. There is no life working 9-5. You spend all your time on the weekend catching up on what you missed during the week.

I thought the grass would be greener on the other side, but it was more like astroturf.

Now I’m back in ER and loving it.

I’m glad I had the clinic experience; I gained a lot of pediatric knowledge.

I guess the nurse can leave the ER, but the ER never leaves the nurse.

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August 30, 2005, 4:27 pm

Taking What They’re Giving ‘Cos I’m Working For A Living…

Yes indeed, I’m working for a living.

Unfortunately, it is not on a cruise ship.

Oh, I would love to try that line of work but I get motion sickness just bending over to tie my shoes.

I have actually been on two cruises as a passenger and each time I lost at least one full day to sleeping in a meclizine-induced coma on what the family called the “Pooped Deck”.

A ship full of food and I get nausea. Go figure.

Then again, I never did see any white-uniformed nurses running around on deck with their medicine trays.

Does anyone still use medicine trays anymore?

Anyone remember pouring their meds for the entire shift in the morning, stacking them in tiny paper medicine cups with the medicine cards lined up in the order they were to be given?

God, I hope someone remembers that, otherwise that makes me a nurse of a “certain age”.

Someday I’ll put my teeth in, turn up my hearing aid and tell you young whipper-snappers about them old days ‘afore there was unit dosing.

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I love the fact that ER nursing is unpredictable.

I hate the fact that ER nursing is unpredictable.

I work a “dead-end’ shift (3pm – 3am), which means that I am not relieved by another nurse. If the unit is busy it is very difficult to disengage and leave. That’s what happened last weekend and I wound up doing a double shift.

Good lord, you would have thought I had been through a tackle exercise with the Oakland Raiders.

Then I went in to help for four hours the next night and one of the night nurses got sick! I stayed the whole shift.

It was like getting up off the mat at the count of eight and getting punched in the face again.

By Mohammed Ali.

In his prime.

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When did I become such a wimp?

I used to be able to do double shifts and then double back for another double (for the uninitiated, that is working 32 out of 40 hours) and have energy for two kids under six when I was done! I was WOMAN, did you hear me roar?

Now I look in the mirror after twelve hours and the hair is flat, the make-up is gone, the lumbar-sacral area is screaming and the feeling will return to the right hand as soon as the cramp from writing on 50 charts has subsided.

But I love my job. This is what I was put here to do. They say nursing is a calling. It began whispering almost 40 years ago and I still hear it clearly today.

There’s nothing better.

Every now and then I have to take a step back and remember that.

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August 29, 2005, 9:55 am

I Can See Clearly, Now…..

Here is what Nurse Cherry looks like in Norwegian! It’s also what Nurse Kim has looked like these past few days trying to fix the sudden onset of acute italics and alterations of font color in the old template. In response to my cries for help, blogger.com sent me two form-letters via email. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble. I think this template is easier on the eyes and I thank all of you who wrote to let me know what was happening. On my Mac, I was able to fix it, but when I went to a Windows computer at work, the blog was still suffering from an altered level of font -iousness. The only casualty was my Jeopardy parody post. I now know to back up everything I write. I’m picking up this html business like a person learning another language through immersion in the culture. I’ve decided it stands for Hopelessly Technical Miserable Luck. Who sat around and invented this form of torture? Anyway, thanks for bearing with me as Emergiblog gets its new bearings! I just finished three shifts in two days and the brain fog is setting in. To sleep, perchance to dream up a new post for later……..

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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