For a variety of reasons, I've worked a lot this week. We're getting ready to open a huge and drop dead gorgeous new Emergency Department and there's a lot to still finish up on. I've been filling in for some of the people who are on those tight deadlines to meet. I'm in the process of trying to add to my regular hours as well, although there are certainly lots of shifts to be picked up during times I really want to work - like school hours. Say what you will about nursing, but you can't beat the flexibility. It is a huge plus.
The extra work has been really interesting from another perspective, too. The last long shift I worked this week is a perfect example. On paper it was a nightmare. Two patients came in as Code Blues. One came in as a Code Red but immediately got upped to a Blue. Two emergent intubations, one of them practically in the hall. A young college student with one of those terrible flukey things that made all of our hearts hurt. We had to fly him out and I'm still wondering how he did. A spinal tap on an infant. A board that never cleared all day, a waiting room that was overflowing out into the parking lot, mental health beds that were never cold. None of us got lunch. No one got dinner. It should have been a disaster.
But instead it was one of the most satisfying shifts I've ever had in nursing. It was just one of those days where everything clicked. I was in the zone. Everything I did was effortlessly right. The first Code Blue was mine and I nailed it from start to finish. It was one of those television ER moments of people running down the hall with gurneys, holding bags of fluids and shouting orders to everyone they pass. And the whole thing, which should have had a terrible outcome, had a wonderful outcome. (It didn't start out wonderful, believe me. Every single person who saw this patient said some version of my favorite word (rhymes with truck) on first glance).
Part of my problem as a critical care nurse is that I overthink things. (Hell, part of my problem in life is that I overthink things). Sometimes you have to fly on gut reactions, which can be hard for me. But I did it all day, operating on pure instinct. And all day I was dead on. It was indescribable. I'd work every day if I could feel that way all the time.
I think so much of the camaraderie that is formed in hospitals is because of the day to day chaos that you survive together. This is true of any job. The more stress you live through and the more you depend on other people to watch your back, the more of a bond you create. Most of the time this bond shows up in little moments, moments where you realize that you're seeing a new facet to someone or understanding that a previously held opinion you had of a person is incorrect (and you're happy for it) or spot on (and you're happy for that, too). It's when the mask slips and the real person comes out. And you are thrilled to realize how much you like what you see.
Masks were slipping all over the place. All gloves were off. The black humor that this profession is so known for was out in full force. (I myself was as solemn as a judge, but some of the reprobates I work with got a little out of control). I found myself the target of a few inside jokes, had all manner of things thrown at me and received my traditional greeting from one of our docs of being body slammed into a wall. (In the nicest possible way, of course. Once the bones heal, that is). It was great.
When people are polite and formal and reserved, it may be business-like, but it's cold. To me, it says that they may not be totally comfortable with you in one way or another. In my (admittedly warped) opinion, if people like you enough to abuse you, you've got it made. You're part of the team. You're...an insider.
Every one of us took one for the team. And I loved it.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM