Ah, don’t you just love tea break at work?
We just barely get a pee break, let alone a tea break!
Oh my, look how the cookies are placed just so on the tray.
In my ER, the food is strewn across the break table so we can graze like cows.
(Standing up, of course, because there is not enough time to sit down. Literally. Sitting down takes one second off the five seconds you’ve allowed yourself to scarf down processed carbohydrates and salt licks, also known as chips.)
That nurse in the middle is the unit gossip. The one on the left can hardly keep a straight face as she locks eyes with the one on the right. You just know they are going to talk about the old biddy when she leaves.
Little do they know that the old biddy intends to write them up for not extending their pinky fingers while they drink. Except they won’t be allowed to see the write-up or know who wrote it.
But they’ll know…
Don’t forget to send in your submissions for Change of Shift to beth at pixelrn dot com! She’ll be hosting this week at Pixel RN!
And I get to host Grand Rounds on the 29th! This will be my third hosting of the weekly collection of the best of the medical blogosphere, so get those keyboards a’flyin’!
I knew in an instant that this would be one patient I would not be addressing by his first name.
Mr. Smith was elderly, handsome, distinguished and well dressed. Even in the wheelchair I could tell he stood over six feet tall.
His piercing hazel eyes shot right through your soul.
Or so it seemed.
There was nothing in report that made me think this patient was different from the others. And there were many “others”. The unit was a zoo. Every room full, the waiting room occupied and five waiting for triage. Half the county on ambulance diversion. Every patient required a full work up, including Mr. Smith.
The orders for Mr. Smith had just been placed in the rack. I grabbed the chart and walked into the room.
Thank goodness his caretaker was with him. That would make things easier.
Mr. Smith was a victim of the disease that gradually steals your mind before it takes your life. Alert and aware, he was not ambulatory nor did he speak. He obviously recognized his caregiver. I was observed with suspicion. I think.
I could see it in his eyes.
I wrestled with Mr. Smith as I placed his IV and drew his labs and performed a few other actions that could be listed under “noxious stimuli”.
And I do mean wrestled.
This guy was strong. Hulk Hogan would have lost a match with this man!
He may not have known who he was or where he was, but he sure as hell knew what he didn’t want! And what he didn’t want was me messing with him in any way, shape or form. It wasn’t hard to tell. I’d look up to reassure him during the procedure.
Right into those eyes.
I had been in and out of the room with medications. I was talking with the caretaker, but I found myself addressing Mr. Smith. He had a way of commanding your attention. His face was expressionless.
His eyes were not.
The caretaker asked if I knew Mr. Smith’s history. I rattled off what I knew about his health.
No, she wanted to know if I knew who Mr. Smith was. What he had done, where he had been and who he had known during his life.
I admitted I did not.
She told me. I was floored.
Mr. Smith wasn’t famous. At least not in the way that we define “famous”. The average person would not know his name. Even at the apex of his career, the average citizen would not have been able to tell you who he was.
But long before the Beatles landed in New York, Mr. Smith had served his country at the highest levels. He worked with, socialized with and counted as friends people most of us know only from old newsreel footage and history books.
I’ll learn more when his book arrives in the mail. A book I’ll never be able to have autographed.
The stories he could have told, if only he could have spoken.
I sensed something when I walked into that room.
Maybe it was the sense of nearly a century of history, once lived and now residing,
Behind those hazel eyes.