Self Health

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Last week I worked 6/7 days (which is not new to me because of the way my hours go), but of those 6 days, I worked 5- 12hr shift and one 9hr one. That, my friends, is such an old concept to me (like back to my first 3 months of nursing) that I’m not sure what part of my brain thought this was a good idea.

Needless to say, I made it through fine. My family wasn’t the happiest with me, considering 3 of those days were spring break so both kids were home. Husband made it through also; of course he did have to find babysitters for most of those days since he was helping a friend do construction as well. But even though we both “made it through”, it definitely took a toll on us both. So we took 3 days and just lived with our kids. We did fun things, we stayed up late, slept in, watched movies…the whole nine yards. It was great.

Today is the last of those 3 days as tomorrow is Monday and it’s a little bittersweet. I love being home with my family- we both do, but I also need some time away from the chaos. It’s a balance of self health. Mental health. Emotional Health. You have to decide what’s best for you and the people around you, and don’t stray from that mindset. Don’t agree to cover a shift if you know it’ll push you to a breaking point- if it will make you go home resenting work and yelling at your family. But don’t stay home so long that your family is driving you crazy and you just “need to get away”.

Take care of yourselves out there. It’s a hard role we’ve taken on…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t dilly daddle

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Today a friend called me asking if I was at work. Considering it was 1830, she was pretty sure I wasn’t, but wanted to make sure. The conversation started out with a bang while she explained that her husband was at the hospital after spending several hours at the MD’s office, stating their PCP thought it was either appendicitis or something wrong with his gallbladder. I instantly started asking questions, but calmed down once she told me who their doctor was. I assured her that he was a great guy, very smart, and very pleasant to deal with, while his brother (also a surgeon) wasn’t always that way. She laughed and said, are you sure you don’t have that backwards? This guy is being pretty rude and blunt to the nurse here.

I had automatically assumed they were in the ER, and when I said I didn’t think he worked in the ER often and was probably just out of sorts from it, she continued with her story. Then the room number came out…”Wait a minute, you’re in ICU??” was my response.

Holy shit, of course that’s why the surgeon was being a bit of a dick. Her husband had been a direct admit from his PCP’s office to ICU, with a direct doctor-to-doctor consult before his arrival, and Dr. N was expecting to do something quick after getting the CT results. Of COURSE he was pissed that her husband’s chart didn’t have the name on it yet, didn’t have stickers set. It had been almost an hour since he had arrived. They were waiting for radiology to get there. They wouldn’t have been able to take him if the chart wasn’t ready (even though they aren’t paper, radiology is still required to take the chart with them most times). That would have prolonged the results, prolonging the possible surgery he was going to need and running the risk of causing damage with whatever internal problems were going on. Then, after standing there listening to Dr. N tell them he may need surgery, the nurse said she would go get consent forms and the IV equipment. Upon returning, she said “Oh wait, you may need surgery…I don’t have the right stuff”. I can only assume she meant a proper IV size. I can only assume she’s a float nurse and doesn’t ALWAYS start with an 18 or 20g needle on the off chance someone needs blood. I can only assume…and hope…that this is what frustrated Dr. N and that it wasn’t something else.

My point? Don’t dilly daddle with your patients if you know it’s a STAT situation. Even if you get a shitty report on them, you know that a direct admit to an ICU bed is not something to just take your time on. I understand that it was dinner time. I understand that they get busy. I also understand that when I left this afternoon, there were only 6 patients in ICU. That conceivably gives them 3 nurses. Of course…who knows what was happening with the other patients at the time, and perhaps this nurse was just REALLY good at not showing her anxiety of having a patient crashing and another one with a pissed doctor…but what I assume is that it was just her not being familiar with what to do…At least that’s what I hope.

 

Now please don’t get me wrong. I am by no means saying that mistakes don’t happen. I am not saying that I would have had it all done and ready to go. What I am saying is that this serves as a friendly reminder of how important it is to have your ducks in a row at all times…just in case.

You never know who your next patient may be.

Old habits

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I read back through some of my first posts on this site just to see what I had been talking about and was surprised when in remembered every instance. I remember the cancer patient, the conversation with my boss, the aide I was having trouble with, the thoughts, feelings, emotions… and I still have many of the same concerns with Nursing now. The difference is that I know I belong and I know I’m needed and appreciated.

How different would my life have been had I left rehab back then? How different would their lives have been? I got them off paper charting. I became a charge nurse, have been in several codes, put orders in with my eyes closed and audit the whole damn thing. It’s unreal how much has changed in the last 4 years.

My boss recanted to me the other day that a retiring nurse had said lovely things about me and that she was incredibly proud of how I’d grown and who I’d become (she had been a preceptor of mine). He said he guessed he was proud, too. And I guess, I am as well.

What’s something you’re proud of?

Here’s to more years of growth. For all of us.

Back to school and other shanigans…

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A few weeks ago I had an epiphany-

Let’s go back to school!

Yeah, I don’t know what drugs I was on, either.

Not that continuing your education is a bad thing. In many cases it’s exactly what I would suggest for anyone who feels stagnant or feels like they have more potential than what they’re doing right now. In my case, that wasn’t the situation by any means. Now yes, I do feel stagnant at times…and yes, I do feel like I have more potential than what I’m doing…BUT…what the “unless…” is that I usually use for people is the following: “Go back to school UNLESS you are already working more than you ought to be or feel like you’re already doing more than you ought to be doing…”

Needless to say, I can be very spontaneous. I can also be very over the top. I can also fail to stop and think before I jump on a solution. Knowing these facts, I can assume you know exactly what happened.

Yep…I enrolled.

You see, what I forgot about school was all the prep work that goes into it. I don’t mind the actual work of school- especially when you tell me I only have to take one class at a time. What I mind is “hurry up and do this” and then “now you have to wait for that to process, just hold on”- rinse and repeat. I just want to fill out a paper and be done. Let’s move on already. Send me a bill. Let’s GO people!

So now we play the waiting game. Which again, isn’t a bad thing. It forces me to have patience, which I obviously don’t have much of to begin with these days. And meanwhile it allows me to concentrate on all the other stuff I’m doing at work.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do a lot of auditing these days. It’s not a bad job and in fact I enjoy it- but don’t tell my bosses that. I also chair our UBC (unit based council for Shared Governance) which is fun. Time consuming, but fun…another thing I enjoy. I love being a part of UBC, trust me. The problem is that sometimes I feel like I love it a little too much. I’m very overzealous compared to my counterpart members. This results in me having a lot of ideas with not a lot of participation. I have some that are just as involved as I am, and then we have others that are not so much…which is okay! I just need to be reminded sometimes that not everyone is as passionate about the same things that I am.

For example…we’ve started something called a “Level 2 Fall Risk”. I LOVE it, by the way. We basically are admitting that every one of our patients is a fall risk, but that SOME of them are a HIGHER fall risk than others. Some know how to turn off their bed alarms. Some are very impulsive. And to be honest, some are just too damn fast and beat us out of the bed before we can even run to their room. With a level 2 risk, we increase the zone on their alarms. Boom, baby. It’s a great idea in theory. It’s a great idea overall…if the alarm is turned on to begin with or if the team knows they are a level 2 risk. I have faith it will be great…eventually. Meanwhile I’ll keep doing audits and keep telling my boss the problems and keep shaking my head when I find a level 2 patient with no bed alarm on at all.

3 years and 6 months later

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Since it’s what I’m good at, let’s be honest. I completely forgot about this blog. As you could imagine, life as a new RN was over taken by home, family, work, etc. All of a sudden, getting my feelings out just wasn’t as important.

So let me fill you in on a few things.

Nursing can ruin your marriage. I’m not saying that’s what did it, but I’m not saying it helped much. In fact, nurses have one of the highest divorce rates- which would probably be a surprise to anyone who isn’t a nurse (or their spouse). It’s not complicated, if you think of it though. As a nurse, you spend more time with someone else’s family than you do your own. You work long, hard hours where you are underappreciated, tired, and all around emotionally drained. You can rattle off the last EKG strip, the last vitals and lab results, and the diets of 3 of your 5 patients without a second thought…but you can’t remember the last thing you ate with your family. You can’t remember the last school project you helped work on- and if you do, I praise you because I know it’s not easy. I had 2 days off this last month. And although I chose that decision because of my current job position, you can imagine how thrilled my family was.

So, as you can assume, that’s what has happened over the last few years. He and I divorced, although considering we only shared our dogs, it wasn’t a horrible thing. And, to be honest, it was probably best for us both. We have both remarried- he to another nurse with 3 beautiful children, and me to a man that He and I had known and been friends with for years. We now have 2 sons, one I gifted life to (A- 2yo) and one life gifted to me (B- 7yo). He and I are still friends, our children call him uncle, he threw Husband his bachelor party and walked with me at our wedding. We attended his wedding and all has been well.

Of course, life can’t be happily ever after without some work. Husband and I fought to get his son back from Ursula, and after 7 long months won full permanent custody. I’m not sure our hearts had ever been so full than on the day we stood in that court room and heard the Judge say to her “I don’t believe you’ll even follow my rules, so I’m awarding full permanent custody to the father.”

We moved, bought a new house, and started adding on back in October. It’s currently March and we successfully have a hole in the ground for a basement. Welcome to our weather. But as I sit here staring, holding A on my lap and listening to the sound of rain hit the windows and turn our basement hole into a pool again, what Husband is going to do for a job as he lost his 3 year stretch last week,  I’m reminded that it’s not that important. In the grand scheme of things, life is good.

And to come full circle, yes. Nursing can ruin a marriage. But you don’t have to let it. You can fight for it if it’s what you want. Nursing can ruin your life if you LET it. But it can also make your life whole. In the last 4 years I’ve been a floor nurse, a charge, floor educator, auditor, and all around anything they needed me to do. It hasn’t earned me much in the way of raises, but it has earned me the ability to make my own schedule. I go in when I want, I leave when I want, and I stay within my scope on all things. The same things that bothered me in 2015 still bother me today, but I work to change that every day. I spend my free time thinking about how to make things better for my fellow nurses- it’s why I’m good at my job. I look for the change and I push to make it. I do not do well with complacency. I am on the same floor I started on and I wouldn’t change it. I have earned the respect of my bosses (at least I feel I have) and the doctor I work with, and every day is a new day to make someone’s life better.

 

Your job title

Be honest. You know your job title. You know what it is. The real question is do you know what you’re supposed to do with that title??

Apparently, whatever the fuck you want. Let’s break this down, shall we? 

It is your job to do X. How do you handle this? You do job X. Now, if job Y falls under your title, but is not technically in your job description as  a blank, but you have the knowledge, skills, training, ability, and ultimately the responsibility to make sure that not only job X, but also job Y are done correctly—guess what…MAKE SURE JOB X & Y are done!!! Ugh. 

So, what I’m saying is: as nurses, people often think this means we don’t take vitals anymore, or get people out of bed, or take people to the bathroom. But, as a nurse, I know that regardless of whether or not those tasks fall under my title or even my description…they fall under the preset of “you still have to make sure this is done because it’s your license not theirs” and so Ill do them if need be. 

Don’t suck at being a decent human being. 

Time to Learn

or maybe not. 

It’s such a hard concept. Getting over something. As nurses we do it every day. We see people cry and laugh and move on, and we move on too– we have to, or it’ll ruin us. So why is it such a hard concept in the real world? As a human I fail at this idea. I can’t bring myself to do anything, making awful decisions along the way. One day I’ll learn.

Maybe. 

How

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How do you stop someone from throwing their life away? You can’t. We see it in nursing every day. Someone comes to the hospital with a recurring problem, and you want to stand up and just scream: what’s wrong with you?! But you can’t. And it’s the same in life. You can’t force someone to change, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that it’s done and either deal or move on. It’s a hard pill to swallow. 

Familiar sting

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It’s been 6 years since I’ve done any harm to myself. Six long, very proud, years. Today, I was sharpening a knife, and without thinking about it, I tested it on my hand as I would have years ago. It was sharp enough, that’s for sure.  The strange thing is that suddenly, I understood an addict’s drive for drugs- regardless of what they are. In that split instant when I felt the sting and saw the blood, I remembered all the pain I had endured for so long…and felt all the release that had came so easily. In that instant, I no longer felt the stress of the day or the anger I had previously. I was just free. It’s a crazy thing to imagine, and I understand it. It was tremendously scary to feel that rush and think “man, just one more”, and know that in that moment, there was nothing else that mattered to me.  No, I did not keep going. No, I did not sit and think about how much I wanted it. I moved on, and finished what I was doing. But that’s the difference between me and current addicts. I can say no. I might be addicted, but I can say no. And in the end, that’s what matters.