At least when you’re new-nursing, anyway. I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 hours clocked in this week. It would have been 74, but Daylight Savings time scootched me over the edge. I clocked out this morning and drove immediately to an $11 breakfast that I ate while staring blankly into a room filled with Sunday morning dress clothes wrapped around happily chattering people.
My vascular space is now 74% filled with white gravy and black pepper.
I’m totally okay with that.
When I’ve spent 12 hours priming you with heart rhythm pills and carefully weaning you down off your cardizem, don’t flip immediately back into A-fib ten minutes after I stop the pump. Just… don’t do that.
The PCA bag is 100 mL of some kind of saline stuff with (this is important) 2 mL of actual dope added to it. If you don’t start your calculations with 102 mL total, you’ll spend way too much time you can’t afford snapping freshly-sharpened pencils in two and reworking the same dosage calculations over and over like a moron flunking a first-semester dosage calc test. There are some times when you’re going to lose that to priming your line, but this isn’t one of those times; I want to know where that 2 mL went, damnit. The universe demands order (in everything but the verb tense of multi-clause run-on sentences.)
Working five nights in a row will make you stupid. If you know that you’re going to be stupid, you will anticipate your own stupidity and compensate accordingly. You will double check everything, and then you will triple check it, and then you will ask your Charge just to be sure. What you won’t anticipate is the fact that your emotions start to get raw. If you are a low-life (like I am), you will curse viciously and audibly when the beeper goes off for your next admit. You will despise the call-bell. Your shoulders will tense and your nails will dig into your palms when the pulse-ox beeps. When you’re getting report and the day shift tells you that family in room 3 gushed about how much they appreciate the care you gave to their grandma, you will get misty eyed and have to clear your throat and you will hem and haw and look down at your brain sheet while you try to regain some measure of bearing and professional demeanor.
Frequently-Confused-Asshole-Who-Treats-Everyone-Like-Garbage: “Are you a man or a woman?”
Me: “I am a man. Another deep breath, please. Good; let it out.”
Lung sounds: clear in all fields. Good deal.
FCAWTELG: “Your hair looks like a woman’s. Why do you have a woman’s hairdo?”
Me: “I think it looks good on me. One more deep breath. Good. Let it out. Are you having any trouble going to the bathroom?”
Bowel sounds: present x4. Continuing my assessment, fully cognizant of leaning over the guy who took a swing at one of the kindest female nurses on our floor.
FCAWTELG: “You’ve never been in the service, have you?” Audible sneer in his voice.
Me: “I served four years in the United States Marine infantry. Did a year in Guantamo Bay, then deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, special operations capable. Just breathe normally – I’m listening to your heart.”
Apical pulse: regular. No murmurs or adventitious sounds noted.
FCAWTELG: Proceeds to tell me “war stories” of his time in the service, brags about his Marine son, and then becomes one of my easiest patients of the week.
Moral of the story: Semper Fi.
The picture on the Me Cam is what was going to be my Halloween costume. I made a paper mache cow skull. I was gonna carve some kind of creepy-looking glyph into its forehead and light it up with a red LED, but I ran out of time and just wore a Guy Fawkes mask and tuxedo jacket. Not sure what to do with it, now. I’m leaning toward painting it with a Day of the Dead motif and using it as a wall decoration.
Until then: blessed sleep.
(You know you’re a night shift nurse when you’ve put away three double Wild Turkey and Cokes by noon on a Sunday.)