Wednesday, August 31, 2005

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.

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 Brand X hospital.
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.


At 8/31/2005 11:45:00 AM, Blogger kenju said...

Ha! Astroturf - that's a good way to describe it. But think about it, if you had not walked on that astroturf, you wouldn't know how much you really appreciate the fresh green grass of the emergency room, would ya'?

At 8/31/2005 10:23:00 PM, Blogger Kim said...

That's absolutely true! And I got a lot of good experience out of the experience!

At 9/01/2005 08:52:00 PM, Blogger Gypsybobocowgirl said...

I've been lucky to do a little of both. I spend most of my time as a desk jockey, but then get called for fun today I got to teach the critical care nurse interns how to assist with a TEE and Cardioversion. I ended up teaching one of them the fine art of stealing anesthesia out from under the cath lab. Now that's a lesson he'll never forget.

At 9/10/2005 06:12:00 PM, Blogger ChiaLing81 said...

I'm a total night owl. I once said to my husband, "When I finally earn my RN license, I will be all over that night shift!" He looked at me with these puppy-dog eyes and said, "But when will I get to see you?" Sigh.

It's so refreshing and inspiring to read about nurses who love their jobs and do them well!

Btw, I'd love to see a "Cherry Ames, Transgender Nurse". :) I miss the Bay Area (went to college there).

At 10/02/2005 04:03:00 AM, Anonymous Holly said...

Have you ever thought of compiling your stories into a book? Think the Emergency Nurses Association would sell it in the ENA Marketplace!!! I really enjoy reading your postings and have forwarded your blog address to several ED Nurse Friends. By the way, I am a nurse manager (of 1.5 years after 16 years on the "frontlines" and I loved your nurse manager posting! Thanks and Keep writing.


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