I’m at work right now and it’s about 2:30 am; the second of three back-to-back 12-hour shifts. It’s a med-surg floor with 16 patients, three nurses on the floor.
While this doesn’t sound too awful in light of the fact that I’ve had on average, about 20-30 patients by myself. However, it’s not the staffing ratio or raw census data that make this night so special. It’s the quality of patients they happen to have on this floor….
…On a night like this I’m always stuck with a lazy nurse who refuses to answer call lights. Every so often catch her out the corner of my eye playing on her phone I wanna scream: “how about getting off your ass and giving me a hand!?” However I realize that as an “overpaid” agency tech this is probably not prudent. I’d never hear the end of it from my boss.
So as I struggle to keep up with call lights and vitals find myself constantly running between 3 rooms. There 3 confused ladies at opposite ends of the unit with leaky bladders. As huge fall risks, we have them both on alarms. Naturally, they forget to use the call light so about every 30 minutes that familiar siren rings. I end up dropping what I’m doing so I can hopefully bolt down the hall quickly enough to catch them before they fall.
However, the real cherry ? on top of this fine sundae are my “special” patients. There’s the agitated and verbally abusive old man who likes to kick and put you when you change him. However I must say, there’s a special place in my heart for that old man with a leaky colostomy bag who requires hourly bed changes cause he won’t stop playing with it…
If I’ve offended you with my frankness I do apologize. I hate for you to get the wrong impression.
Over the course of my 15 years in this profession, I’ve had to learn some survival skills. FIRST, I work to find a deeper meaning & value in this line of work. I know I’m making a positive impact on those I care for – this does provide some comfort. THEN, there’s the advice of Brene Brown who urges us to lean into the discomfort….
As beneficial as these nuggets of advice have been. I occasionally find myself at the end of my rope. Ive been doing this for 15 years & for much of that time spend the majority of my hours caring for others. I do it at home as a wife & mother. I do it at work as a C.N.A. Finally, as a student therapist, I’m trying to launch a new career.
So what’s the problem you ask? (beyond the obvious fact that this job sucks donkey balls)…
I spend the majority of time caring for others & have no time to care for myself.
I spend the majority of my time tending to others’ need but nobody tends to mine.
Throughout my day, there’s rarely a time or place for me to just share how I feel with somebody who is willing and/or able to listen.
So I adapt in the best dissociative manner possible.