Alright, let's start with Monday.
The shift started with almost half the unit full. This isn't typical, but the night hadn't been typical in any way. The ER was virtually empty the entire time the Super Bowl was on, but within minutes of it ending, the unit was packed. Evidently, everyone sat at home ignoring whatever was bothering them until the post-game show, and then BAM. The precedent for the day was set. Every single room was full all day, including the trauma rooms. The waiting room was overflowing into the parking lot. It turned into one of our highest number of patients seen days ever.
It wasn't just the numbers. It was the timing. For some reason, I kept discharging or admitting my patients at the same time, which meant that I would then get slammed with all new patients at the same time. At one point, I admitted three ambulances with unstable patients into my newly opened rooms within a five minute period. One of my patients had a full-blown psychotic break at exactly the same time. We were all too busy to even help each other, so it was every nurse for themselves. When we thought we were as stretched as we could possibly be, one of our patients coded. Halfway through that, with everyone either in on the code or watching additional patients to cover for the staff in the code, cardiac monitors started blaring in another corner to announce another patient who was in a full code situation. My patient with the psychotic break thought he was at a Bingo parlor with all the noise and started loudly calling numbers outside of his room, dodging people running down the hall at full speed pushing crash carts.
And Tuesday wasn't noticeably better.
Oh, it was slower for a while, but then we got slammed again. I got backed into a corner by a violent and intoxicated patient and it took three law enforcement officers to retrieve me. I hit my very own personal best in blood alcohol levels. Well, not mine. A patient's - almost nine times the legal limit. And breathing just fine on his own, how I don't have a clue. Soon before shift change, I got a trauma that kept me at work an hour late stabilizing her enough to ship out. By the time I got home, my legs were cramping and my vision was blurred. I was in bed by ten, where I thrashed and tossed all night.
And then there was Wednesday. It was the same exact story - all day long. Even down to the now obligatory code at shift change and an overflowing waiting room for twelve solid hours. As I sit in bed writing this, I can feel my pulse in both of my feet as they throb to the rhythm of my heartbeat. All I can think is four days off. I have four days off. And then it's back to the salt mines.
I just keep telling myself, it's job security, right??