"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Interesting Piece of History

Today was an amazing day at work.

It's going to be really hard to explain....truly.

Last night, I was lying in my bed, just waiting to fall asleep, staring at the moon, still sickly. And all of the sudden I felt this wave of.....joy? Relaxation? Serenity? Acceptance? Peace?

I swear I was not on any drugs!.....Well, other than Nyquil.

I think it was my Grandmother's spirit coming to say hello. Thats what I think.

All of the sudden, I just had all this confidence, all this warmth, that I was going to have an amazing day at work the next day. I could feel energy pouring calmly through me that would be used the next day (today). I could envision this energy being used to make my patients smile, to do those extra little things for every body. 

With my grandmother recently passing away in a hospital, and a couple of my relatives being with her there to experience it and tell me about it, it only made me remember again why I am in this profession. My aunt (my grandmothers oldest daughter) explained to me how much of a difference the care and love the nurses gave, how much the little things counted.

Some times at work I forget that. I do my job really well still- but I forget that who I am taking care of is someone's beloved grandma, grandpa, daughter, son, mom, dad, sister, brother, friend.... Just as my grandmother was to me, I would want absolutely nothing more than to have the best nurses take care of her and my family. In fact, if I had found out about what was going on while I was in Europe, in retrospect, my only wish would have been to pray that she did have good nurses.

So sometimes I forget, yes. I see my patients as individuals and forget that they are connected to so many others. But today I did not forget. I made it a point to treat every single patient as if they were my only, and as if they were my family. Of course this is hard to do when you have 23 patients, and I wanted desperately to stay on my shift longer, because I literally ran out of time to the very last second.

I worked day shift this weekend, which I do only on a rare blue moon. I have never been a huge fan of day shift, mainly because I usually find it rather painful and frightening to wake up before the sun, and function. However being on day shift this weekend helped me spend more time with my patients and do those 'little things'. Day shift is primarily responsible for getting everyone washed, ready for the day, teeth brushed, fed, washed again...so you get to spend a lot of 1:1 time with your patients. They get to know you, trust you.

Just like yesterday I shared the story of my 101 year old delightful patient that deserves all the respect in the world, today I encountered another type of patient that deserves all the respect. Veterans. 

I spent about 30 minutes just getting this one patient washed up, both yesterday and today. I really got to know him, and in just one day got to see him greatly progress in his health and effort. Through talking today he shared with me that he is used to being a patient in military hospitals, as he served for many years in his day.  He quotes, "Back in my day....back in the army hospitals, if you could walk, you were out there helping the nurses. There was no lying in bed all day like we have to do here. I'm getting sicker lying here. If I could I'd be out there helping you."

It was definitely an interesting piece of history that this man shared with me. History is great out of a textbook, but means so much more when coming from tales of personal experience. How interesting, to think that healing soldiers got back up and helped the nurses? To see that friendship, respect and camaraderie that must have been there....I would pay a million bucks.

Overall, it was an excellent day. I got to do little special things for a couple patients, and that makes all the difference to making or breaking your day.

I think I am probably going to fall into the early nurse burnout category...because I never want to stop. I know how many things I have to do, how many people need help, how many people need me at that moment and it never stops, and I have trouble leaving, even if its to pee or to go eat. If I weren't going to pass out from not eating for 12 hours, I would just work straight through and help every last patient with every last need. I eat my food quickly because I know I need to get back on the floor. I know this is not good. Thats how burnout happens....putting everyone else before yourself all the time... But, really, isn't that what I'm getting paid to do sort of? Shouldn't I?  Doesn't it sort of come in the job description?

I need to find the fine line and camp out on it. I need to find a balance of hard work, extra time with patients, making it to see all my patients, but also being fair to myself. Eat, pee, laugh, breathe.... I need to work on that.


PS- It has also been finalized that I have some definite odd case of OCD. After working 12 hours and not eating dinner (I ran out of money, lol) I was definitely looking forward to coming home to a homecooked dinner leftover for me. On the drive home I was starving. I envisioned how awesome it would be to finally sit down and eat some dinner at home, while watching tv.

Well, I got home, changed out of my gross scrubs, went downstairs and threw some food in the microwave. As I stood there waiting, I realized the sink had dishes in it. Too many dishes. You can't wash your hands. That bothered me. So I decided to do the dishes. But then the wash machine was full with clean dishes, so I emptied that first. But then my food beeped ready. But I couldnt ignore the dishes now that I had started, I just couldn't. So I put the dirty dishes in and started the cycle. But then I realized the countertop was wet and dirty around the previous dish infested area and had to clean that too, despite food still being ready. After that I figured I might as well clean the dining area, which I did, because how can I stop at the countertop?

Eventually though, I did get to eat. :-) The funny thing is if you saw my room you would never peg me as a neat OCD freak, but thats because i know where everything is in my room despite it being messy. But if there is dishes in the sink, I just can't look at them. Can't do it. Have to wash them. Go figure!

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