Chaos

From yesterday’s Daily Prompt.

As I write this, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem is playing on my Pandora Radio. It reminds me of the chaos that was in my mind and in my heart this morning when I started work. On days like this I ask myself the same questions. Did I really choose the right profession? Has my burn out returned? Have I become desensitized? Why can’t I win the Powerball and retire?

I am a peri-operative nurse. My day begins at 0430 when I wake up feeling sorry for myself because it’s the ass crack of dawn and no one else is awake at that time but me. I get ready for work and my jeep/broom takes flight to get me to my 0600-1530 shift four days per week. My job is to prepare patients for the Operating Room. I review their history and physical, labs and diagnostics searching for red flags to alert anesthesia providers and surgeons about that may prevent the patient from getting into the operative room safely. I do a physical assessment, a care plan and a preoperative check list. I also initiate IV access and infuse Lactated Ringers and medications while they wait. On a rare occasions I’ve transfused blood before sending the patient to surgery. There is much critical thinking and hustle involved in this type of nursing and my time as an Emergency Room nurse prepared me well. My department opens at 0600 and we hit the ground running. By the time the first cases go in the OR at 0730, all twenty nine rooms in our area are full.

Chaos is inevitable when there are sixty OR cases in a day and two RNs called out. Of course I didn’t realize we had the call outs and I saw how badly my assignment sucked. It’s really fun being pissed off ten minutes into the shift and then try to put on a happy face so your patients don’t think your crazy said no nurse ever. I started my morning with two patients to get ready by 0730. One of them was not told the right time by the surgeon’s office and arrived way later than she should of. Put your foot on the clutch, drop the gears and move your ass nurse. My other patient was febrile, very sick and most likely septic. After much ado her surgery was cancelled and we took her to my old stomping grounds, the Emergency Department.These two patients were very kind and for that I was thankful. I took it one task at a time with each patient, expressed gratitude for everything that went right and drudged through it.

The two surgeons I worked today with are nice but not my favorites to pre-op for. They can be irrational, unrealistic and pushy when they change the order of who gets surgery first and all of their patients are train wrecks and take forever to get ready. Their lack of understanding for exactly what we have to do to get these patients ready safely puts me on edge as does everything I have to say to explain this to them. Sometimes I feel like I’m Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wa wa, the patient arrived late doctor.  Wa wa the patient has 20 medications to reconcile and they were not put in the computer by Pre Admission Testing doctor. Wa wa. I’m having trouble establishing IV access doctor.  Wa wa. I’m moving as fast as I can and trying to bite my tongue because I’m about ready to tell you to get off my ass and then I’ll get in trouble for my mouth. Wa wa wa doctor I know you are not listening to me trying to tell you I’m trying to get your patient ready safely. Yes doctor I’ll hurry.

My patients were sick today and I fought an uphill battle getting my patients ready until I got all of my patients into the operating room ,went to lunch and carried out the rest of my crap assignment. No wonder why I had heartburn when I left work today. Through the course of the day I realized that all of my coworkers were equally as miserable. Not that I like misery loves company, I felt justified because my feelings were not alone.

Days like this happen to every nurse on the planet and sometimes I want to punch that little girl who decided to become a nurse when she was four right in the back of the head. Other days I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do for a living. Very rarely do I tell my family exactly what happened during my work day because I leave it at the door of the hospital and don’t bring it into my house. When asked by my family how my day was, my answers are either, good, bad or busy. We all somehow find a way to survive and keep up with the flow to get through the day. Sometimes I wonder how I managed to get through days like this. The answer is simple. I am a nurse. I can do it.

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One thought on “Chaos”

  1. This is your best piece yet. The details take me back to the day I met you and the masterful job you did of preparing me–body and spirit–for a lifechanging procedure. I was so frightened in that clinical setting filled with machines and bustle. Then you shifted the whole experience by helping me remember who I was beyond my role as patient. You asked real questions and then responded to me personally. You stopped and made eye contact with me. I will always be grateful for the compassion you brought to our encounter. You balanced kindness and competence. Never doubt that you entered the right profession: healer.

    Like

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