It has been a long, dark night. The ghosts of past sins have lingered like unwanted guests, and I’m waiting for the dawn to chase them back to their restless graves.
My life has been busy of late, but I want to give some shoutouts to blogs I’ve seen in the last few months but have yet to acknowledge:
If you dig my blog, you’ll probably like Nurse J’s more, though I’m loathe to direct you that way since he’s obviously much cooler than I am. He has MUCH better stories and his writing has a liveliness that I can only grit my teeth and envy. He’s also got way more style than I do. He seems like that badass nurse that sits in the back row of orientation with one foot cocked out in the aisle, not even bothering to contain his sneer over wasting time when he’s got shit to do.
I also recommend Nurse XY. XY’s writing is fantastic, and carries a surprising amount of emotional resonance for a dude who looks like he should be MMA fighting rather than nursing. At the time of this writing, the front page of his blog has: a very candid post about his personal life, a post about maintaining the proper sight picture for a 600m rifle shot, “It’s an ICU room, not a freaking clown car,” and a very poignant post about a patient’s death. Good stuff.
I have been following Bad Emma on Facebook for a long time, and am very glad to see that she’s finally gotten around to making her own blog. She’s been writing about her journey through the prereqs, and is about to start writing about her journey through nursing school (congrats.) She writes a lot about her personal fitness regimen. Emma has been very deliberate about running and eating well, and the results, even in her profile pics, have been remarkable. A word of caution, however, for those of us who like to drink and smoke and listen to Tom Waits and brood: her positive outlook is infectious.
I started my new Patient Care Tech job last night, when I walked onto a floor crowded with nurses changing shifts. It was pure chaos. It was incredible. The first night was a long night that flew by in a flash.
Some of it was familiar. There was a cramped break room, made more claustrophobic because every square inch is plastered with pictures of big-eyed kiddos, pictures of sad-eyed puppies, or lime-green clip-art reminders to wash the damned c. diff off your hands. Someone had brought in a box of supermarket chocolate chip cookies, as someone always does; half the cookies were eaten, but half were still visible through the omnipresent little plastic cookie-viewing window. There were single-serving bags of snacks left unopened and abandoned when one of the really important machines unexpectedly made one of the really important beeps. Nurse break rooms always have more sequins, animal-print fabric, and glittery pink crap than the back room of a strip joint. Getting unexpectedly blasted by the smell of old-people-pee was familiar. Fighting the gloves was familiar. The patter was familiar and comforting: “How are you tonight, ma’am? Let me see if I can’t get that for you. Is there anything I can do for you while I’m here? Okay; your call light is here. Give a holler’ if you need us.” You’re here. I’m here. People are people, no matter what floor or time or NANDA-approved nursing diagnosis.
Much of it was unfamiliar. Machines beeped in strange ways, for odd reasons. Casual conversations were all “v-tach this” and “a-fib that,” “she’s having pvc’s,” and “why the hell would he order that?” Who would have thought that a charted order for “COTS” does not mean “Cardiac Optimization Test Series” – it means have the janitor bring up a cot so a family member can sleep in the room. Having my own login to the computer was new. I wrote the first chart note of my career, and signed it with my own name and title. I discontinued an IV for the first time. I answered the phone. I did things. They were menial things, granted, but they were my things.
I know that, far too soon, it will all become commonplace. Answering the phone won’t be exciting forever, but I do so love starting something new. I can remember exactly how it felt to jump off the truck and walk into the breezeway of the barracks in Gitmo. I can remember everything about the first moment I pushed the slider up the soundboard, and all of a sudden the D.J. was me. I remember the smell of oil and gas and burned rubber and West Texas, and the glare of the sun on bright red paint as I walked up the stairs to the announcer’s booth at the drag strip. There’s nothing quite like the total-sensory-snapshot that gets stored in your head when you turn a page and, in a moment, you’re in another phase. This is real. This is happening. This is now.
When this moment is over, you will not be the same person you were before it happened.
I have no doubt that when I lie on my deathbed, I will still be able to lose myself in these indelible impressions – recollections whose immediacy makes them experiences, not mere memories.
Last night was one of those snapshots. For just a moment, I stood there on the edge of everything. I was like a kid on the first day of junior high. My brown paper lunch sack was clutched in my hand. I was awkward and uncomfortable in the wrong-color scrubs. I was grinning from ear to ear as the first moments of the next chapter of my life were seared forever into my brain.
I have seen the future, and the future is awesome.
For now, sleep. I get to do it again tonight.
The rest of my life is pretty rad, right now, though, so the blog will have to a wait a little bit longer.
I’m posting this for a friend who I think will appreciate it. I just got hipped to a new Goldfrapp video that is:
b) quite apropos.
Real updates soon, when I have a little less radness keeping me away from the computer.