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a day in the life of a nurse by meow48
"So like how long have you been a nurse?" Mr. Smith inquired looking at me.
"Ah, Mr. Smith, I think I met Florence Nightengale at least once in my long life.." making a small joke. Only to find it was smaller than I imagined.
Okay... try this one....
"How about the fact that I graduated nursing school in 1982..."
"Oh... that long. I guess you know what you are doing then." small laugh.
"Mr. Smith, I am going to need to restart this iv. I promise you I will do my best and will not poke you numerous times for my pride... Okay?"
"It it's j j just that I hate needles."
"Good. I would hate to think you love them."
"Kay. Now try to relax. Which I know you won't do, so instead just try not to move okay? I would hate to become blood brothers and sisiterwith you. Okay?"
Another smile. and line started before he could frown. Wheww....
"Jan, could you help me for a minute?"
"Sure, Gotta wash my hands first."
Scrub, scrub, scrub, humming the abcs in my head.....
"Okay, What's up?"
"I gotta change and turn Mrs. Ortega."
"Okay. Got everything?"
Mrs. Ortega... colon ca, scheduled for a test in the morning, and well... has developed intractable diarrhea from the prep... only forty, family is in the room.
"Um, if you will excuse us, this should only take ten minutes..."
"Mama... do you want us to leave?"
Please let them leave, I pray silently. NO ONE needs to see their mama like this.
"Yes. Just go get me something to drink..."
"Your mother is on clear liquids. So anything that you can see thru is fine."
Mrs. Ortega bursts into tears.
"I am sooooo embarassed."
"Ah, Mrs. Ortega. Hang in there. This... it is just one awful moment in your life... and besides even the president has to go thru this kinda test...."
"Okay. Now roll over on your side?"
Scrub scrub scrub.... abcdefghijil.....
"Jan, I was wondering if you could draw this blood for me.."
"Is it stat?"
"No. It is a now order and I have already missed twice."
"No problem, just let me get this one medicine hung now...."
Grabs Vancomycin and quickly enters Louis's room. What the hell? He is gone..... Damn...
"Here is your blood." Handing the labled specimens in the hands of my comrade.
"Jan, you are a miracle worker."
"Naw, I am just on a roll today." Smiling, heading back to my group of patients that haven't been taken care of for a while now....
"This is your blood pressure pill. I will check your pressure before you take this, Mr. Johnson. This one is your stool softener. This one is your stomach pill."
Cuff around arm, press button....
"Um, why do I have a stomach pill?"
"Oh, I am sorry for not explaining,.. this is a pill that cuts the acid on your stomach. It will keep you from getting ulcers while you are here at the hospital."
"Stress... it is real. Mr. Johnson. The doctors believe an ounce of prevention will is worth a pound of cure. Kay?"
Please just take the pill....
"Oh, and your blood pressre is 88/40... I won't be giving you this pill after all. I need to call the doctor to let him know."
"Is that bad?"
"It will be okay. We also put people on blood pressure medicines so that the stress won't make their blood pressure go up... You just don't need this pill right now."
Page Doctor on Call....
"Jan, here are your blood sugars."
Great tech... don't have to hound him.
Ring...Ring...Ring... Ring... I am coming, please don't hang up. As I quickly hand my patient a new gown, after finishing cleaning them up from vomiting...
"I will be right back, Okay?"
Picks up phone... dead....Damn.
Heads back to the room.
"You.. YOU left me."
"I am sorry Ms. Black. I had paged a doctor and..."
"You left me."
There is nothing wrong with your arms...i say to myself.
"Here. I am available to help you now. And the bed is all cleaned up. Here. All I have to do is tiethe back up. See all done."
Settles patient in the bed, fluffs pillow.
"Now, I am going to see if you have anything to help with this nausea."
"Don't leave me..."
"Ms. Black... Okay, I will keep the door open and your room is just across from my cubby. okay?"
"I know." Thinking I have three blood glucoses to cover and two more sets of nine meds to give... and it is already 2130....
"Just let me help you. Oh, our chaplains are here at night... would you like a visit from one of them?"
"I don't believe in God."
sighs, kay. Sits down beside patient.
"They don't spew God. They are nice people who like to visit those in need of visiting... Kay?"
"Fine." Note to self... patient is now angry.
Ms. Black, nearly diagnosed with HIV, single, and only twenty... Would I believe in God, if I were her? Walks to phone, page chaplain, repage md for holding med order, page ortho for non covered blood glucose.... Plan... to sit here and chart ...
"There she is..."
I look up.
"So you are my mother's nurse. Tell me of her condition...?"
"Um, I am sorry. I can't."
"6 south. Jan the nurse speaking."
Looks at young woman standing there defiantly glaring at me.
"Hold on just a second Doctor."
"Maam, if you will wait in your mother's room, I will come and talk with the both of you in a few minutes."
Watches the woman turn and head to her mother's room. Whew....
"um, I am sorry, Doctor Sloan. I am calling about......"
"Thanks Chaplain. I would appreciate you coming up and talking with a patient of mine by the name of .... here are the circumstances.."
"So cover the four units of regular humulin insulin for a blood glucose of 270. Thankyou Dr. Munch."
Don't giggle... it is not nice.
Great. Orders are put in. Shoot. I forgot...
"Sorry to keep you waiting... I got busy."
"Busy? You were doing nothing but sitting on the phone and talking."
I think I am getting a headache.
"Iapologize. I was delayeddue to waiting on pages from some of the doctors. Now how may I assist you?"
Use more professional words... to those who are upset... make them have to stop and think.... make them have to take a breath...
"Mrs. Gomez, this is your daughter?"
"Well, I cannot tell what is going on with you because of the law. Do you want her to know about your illness?"
Woman's face has just turned pale. She is not ready for the family to know.
"Darn. It is 2150. I have to finish my med pass. Maam, it is after visiting hours... so you can stay and visit with your mom for a little while longer but..."
"Help!!! I need help!!!!"
"Um, Excuse me."
"Just wait a minute, nurse. I want your supervisor's name."
I am already out of the door. No one cries out for that unless it is...
Old body, don't fail me now.
"Toni, what's happening?"
"I don't know. He's not breathing."
okay, new nurse...
"What's his first name?"
I go up to patient. No chest rise.
I slap my flat hand on to his chest and yell, "TOM!!!"
No reponse. Ear over mouth, look for chest rise.... nothing. Feel for pulse... nothing.
"Call a code. Get him on the board."
Things become surreal....
Tom is now being assisted to breath, i am now kneeling on the bed and compressing Tom's chest.
Code team comes, takes over and i am excused.
Go to other side of hall.... angry daughter is now outside of room.
"I have never met anyone so rude. I will have your job."
My job? I would like you to try it.... i think to myself.
"I will call my supervisor, but right now she is busy.(in the code) Just stay in your mom's room. Thankyou."
Pass 2100 meds at 2230.... damn... can't wait to here from my manager about this.....Insulins given...
"Nurse... I need a blanket....
"Nurse.... I need water...
"Nurse .... i am hungry..."
Responses given automatically. Needs and requests, I knock them down one at a time.
I see the supervisor come out of the code room, the look on her face tells me he didn't make it. Toni is in tears... first death... i think to myself.
"Nurse I have been waiting to speak to your supervisor."
I nod in understanding.
"Peggy? Do you have a minute? A family member would like to talk with you."
sit down at desk looking at six charts to write on and a computer to chart on.... deep breath... you can do it. Hands still ache from cpr, feet are screaming in pain due to standing up so long giving meds from a computer....
Time for tylenol.... run to get a drink... come back.
I see my patient's daughter leave in a huff.
The supervisor rolls her eyes.
"HIPPA Law, you gotta love it."
"So like how much trouble am I in?"
"Oh... not much, actually the patient apologized for her daughter."
I sigh a breath of relief... with only four years to retirement.... I can't lose this job.
"I made her go to the breakroom and drink a pop."
"Good. I will go talk with her. Jan? Hang in there."
"Yeah. I always do."
2300... Time for midnight meds...
vital signs... turning patients... keeping them clean... stealing water from those who have procedures in the morning....
0100... take break... eat at desk and chart.
0300... draw am labs...
0500 ... Intakes, outputs... final touches on charting... chartchecks... lab result checks...call abnormals to mds... dressing changes if any... thinking to myself... patients heal inspite of us... after all, there is no rest in a hospital.
Report... done. Dayshift comes on and I drive home to face another day.
I laugh about the medical shows they have on tv. No actor or actress in their right mind would ever attempt to do what I do... for twelve hours a day, three days a week... but deep down inside... I love it.... DO YOU THINK THAT MAYBE... SOMEWHERE DEEP INSIDE, I AM A MASOCHIST? i think to myself.