Last night was a bitch.
I've had root canals that were less painful.
It started out bad.
The department was full to the brim, people were in the waiting room, our tech went home sick at 2200 and two hospitals in the county were on ambulance diversion. Okay, business as usual.....
.... but then my glasses broke. Not the nice break that can be fixed with a tiny screw at the earpiece. The frame itself actually broke in the middle of nowhere. It was like my glasses had osteoporosis and spotaneously fractured, with the lens falling out. Now realize, I am as blind as you can be without needing a cane. So here were my options:
- Function for eight hours with my glasses held together with plastic tape that covered
50% of my left visual field, making me look like an extra in "Revenge of the Nerds", needing only a pocket protector to complete the look.
- Wear my prescription sunglasses all night, bathing the ER in a brown tint and making me look like an extra from "Miami Vice" or someone with a chronic migraine, which, by 0800, would have been an appropriate diagnosis.
- Call my loving husband of 26 years and ask him to run my contacts down to me, allowing me to at least hear report and allow the PM shift to leave on time.
- Run home and back going 80 mph down the freeway to retrieve my contacts myself, with only 3/4 vision, in the dark, having one co-worker go overtime one hour and ten minutes while I made the trip (I have the timing down to the second). Oh, and by the way, the contacts are not progressives so while I can read the monitor a mile away, I will be charting in an absolute blur, not to mention starting IVs by sticking the angiocath into the depths of the bluish haze running up a forearm.
I chose option number four because hubby would not participate in option number three.
(I am pretty sure that is grounds for divorce in California, but I've invested too much time in the marriage and anyway, I kicked his ass when I got home. It will be a cold day in hell before I get him
ibuprofen or Sudafed the next time he's sick. Sorry honey, this nurse is off duty!
But I digress.....)
So I run breathlessly back into the unit with my contacts in, my vision worse but my looks enhanced by the absence of frames and high-five my colleagues who are breathlessly running out the door they are so happy to escape.
And for the next eight hours I am running.
No breaks. No lunch. No food. No coffee.
Just Diet Pepsi (my addiction always
gets fed) and I barely got in a third of that.
For six of those hours, I took care of a patient who had chronic pain exacerbated by a fall earlier in the day.
We are talking agony
here, folks. Serious pain. 50/10 on the pain scale. Just the slightest
movement set off additional spasms.
Because of various other problems discovered in addition to the pain issue, this patient was a 1:1 for almost my entire shift. The emanations of pain that came from her room were heartwrenching. A family member was present, knowledgable regarding their relative's health issues and an absolute saint in the bargain.
I developed an even deeper respect for my sole co-worker that night, an RN who remembers when she would have 14 patients and would cover the LVN's
14 patients on the floors.
She makes me look like a baby nurse.
She took every other patient
that came in that night after our 0330 nurse left. Believe me, they didn't stop coming just because one nurse was busy.
And they were sick
, no clinic stuff last night.
Just as we were ready to transfer my patient, the family member expressed concern over a possible need for some respiratory medications and the ER doc added an additional medication for pain, which I gave at that time, so the patient remained with me for another half an hour.
And then it happened.
We were able to stabilize my patient and by the time the patient left the unit, they were smiling and comfortable. They were telling jokes!
We had found the medication combo that stopped the overwhelming aspects of the pain.
The metabolic issue would be addressed after admission, but for now the pain was minimal. I told the patient that it was worth the additional half hour in the ER just to see her looking so good after so much suffering.
to see that.
Maybe it is a selfish thing, but I felt like all the ministrations, medications, repositionings, revitalizing and compassion had made a difference.
I was overtime, finishing the shift with a zombie-like numbness. I checked the glucometer. I ordered the drugs - all night shift duties - while my colleague finished her charting and as I left, the day shift began dealing with the five patients that arrived between 0800 and 0810.
I drove home, took the ibuprofen and valium that I take for the back spasms and body aches that I never seem to feel while
I'm working and fell into a sleep so deep my husband woke me up at 1800.
I never even heard the phone when my daughter called for me to pick her up after track practice, so I guess I gotta give the hubby a few
props for picking her up when it was my turn to do so....