"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, March 5, 2012

I Sincerely Hope this happens to other night shift nurses..

Okay. So, on night shift- every body reacts differently to the grueling demands the schedule puts on your body. Me, I don't get really tired over night . I'm naturally nocturnal. I drink one energy drink for the whole night and I'm fine. However, my brain is affected. I've begun to notice that by 4-6 am my brain gets noticeably slower...like if I had a timer to time my response times to a question asked at the beginning of my shift and the end, the end response time would be significantly longer. It's like I can literally feel the neurons in my brain moving slower. It's unreal. Other nurses have been known to call this phenomenon "brain pudding".

However, the following does concern me. There is a point in every shift where your nurse supervisor should (if they are a good supervisor) get report from you. All they want is a very simple report about the most important things about your patient (diagnosis, PICC or PAC line, do they have a foley catheter, when are they going home, is anything abnormal, is this patient going to cause any predictable problems or have they, do you -as the nurse-need help?)

Well wouldn't you like to know, that by 3 am, particularly when the nurse supervisor shows up at the worst time when you're running around like crazy, they ask, "have time for a quick report?"...and they ask, as described above, "what are they here for?"

...and suddenly, you realize. You have no.friggen.clue.

At this moment of pure brain pudding syndrome, you may be able to recall -

- your patients birthday
- your patients favorite flavored ice cream
- which way your patient prefers to roll when they are getting cleaned up
- exactly what time they prefer their sleeping pill
- exactly how many times you gave them dilaudid
- the life long story about your patients cat
- what your patient will probably want when they call the call bell
- how many times is normal/expected for your patient to call the call bell

And it goes on.


Let me tell you, there was one night I can remember where I didn't have my binder in front of me with all my patients information, and I literally sat there in front of my supervisor after she asked the epic question for at least FIVE WHOLE MINUTES. I stared at the board with my patients last name, thinking that would turn my brain from pure mush and blankness to actually something worthwhile and smart.

But no. Instead my supervisor took pity and was all like, "how about I come back?"

Yes. It was that bad. Complete blank.

Like I said, I remember the most ridiculous things. But the diagnosis? Pshh. Particularly when it's not something immediately obvious.

Sometimes it's easier to remember the patient is in with gastroenteritis when you have vomit on your shoe. Sometimes it easier to remember the patient is in with abdominal pain when you forget how many times you have pulled dilaudid out of the machine.

But something like pancytopenia? Not so much. That's all lab values. You don't see "pancytopenia" when you look at a patient. You see your patient. You remember all the things from the list above.

But that doesn't mean it's not important to always remember. It's just a demonstration of how much your brain goes to compete mush.

I hope this happens to other nurses and I'm not going into early dementia.


With mushy brain love,




LVCI said...

You may not remember everything about a patient, but you sure will recall the patient's relatives!

A Writer in a Nurse's Body said...

that is SO TRUE. Thank god at my hospital we kick out relatives at 8pm- one hour after I get on! I usually let people stay but its nice having the option to tell people to get out hahah. But you are so right.