I am a PREOP nurse. Four days per week between Monday-Friday, I rise at 0430, put on the scrubs and drive my jeep at warp speed so I can begin my 0600-1530 work day. I prepare patients for surgery.
Two weeks ago, my hospital opened up a surgical unit for Orthopedics. All of the Orthopedic surgeries now go through PREOP/OR/PACU on their own floor. Today I got pulled to the Orthopedic Surgical Unit. It was my first shift there. I had a wtf moment when I saw my assignment: 0830, 0840, 0850, 0910, 1140, 1250. These patients had multiple health problems, were on a ton of medications, could barely walk and a few were hard IV sticks. The surgeon I worked with often moves fast and runs ahead. The orthopedic OR staff is also a little impatient. I felt like I’d been hit by a train. On top of it, here I was getting used to a new unit for the first time. Different geography, newer equipment and a different unit flow. At one point one of my charts fell apart because I was so frazzled I forgot to close the three ring binder before I closed the chart. I felt like a new grad today. Somehow I managed to get through it all without being removed in a straight jacket. My patients went to surgery safely and on time. The surgeon didn’t yell at me and after my first four patients I could finally exhale. I did it because I am a nurse and that’s what I do.
My husband is not a nurse but today he had to report to work at 0600, two and a half hours earlier than usual because of an extremely busy day for his department. Today at 2;46PM my husband sent me a text stating that he needed a nap. I told him to welcome to my Monday-Friday weekly sleep deprived trance. He said he didn’t know how I managed to get up at 0430 every day. My answer is simple. I am a nurse and that’s that I do.
On July 20, in my Social Media post, I mentioned a dying coworker. Four days later on July 24, she passed away in the early evening. Less than 12 hours later, I was back at work at 0600. I went through the motions of my work day, double checking my work because it was difficult to concentrate. I took good care of my patients. I reassured them their surgeries would turn out fine. I smiled. Behind my smile though was a broken heart for the loss of a good nurse that I’d worked closely with when she and I worked together in the Emergency Room. I had less than 12 hours after her death to get to bed, have a terrible night’s sleep and get to work to take care of my patients without any free time to take a moment to reflect upon her life and the purpose she had in mine. Nurses don’t get the luxury of putting our work on pause. We get a grip and just keep moving. All the time. I am a nurse and that is what I do.