Coffee and poop. One brings joy, and one brings relief. Well….they kinda both bring relief. Anyways, two very important feelings in life, joy and relief. Amen. Okay, so I really just wrote this to get your attention, but these are still very true! I have not blogged in quite some time. It’s been almost a year, and I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve said to myself, “ I should have blogged about that.” Those thoughts are all lost, but during this pivotal time in my career, I know that this stuff can benefit other nurses and I feel the need to let it out! To learn from my “young nurse” experiences and also learn from situations that I had no choice but to deal with right then and there. I hope and pray that you not only enjoy the humor and bluntness in my writing, but you see my heart for nursing, and the reason for writing about these experiences! We need more love in this world, and for us it can come in the form of nursing!
These patients and families are in such vulnerable situations. Being “sick” in the hospital ( what ever that definition is for that individual patient ), their bare butts exposed from hospital gowns that barely cover, and having 15+ different people walking in a room in a 12 hr shift, performing different duties and sometimes carrying conflicting information about their care. It’s scary, its frustrating, and it’s draining. Unfortunately, the nurse is the middle man for ALL of those people. We answer where they left off. Sometimes having those answers and sometimes having to be honest and tell the patient that we really don’t know and will do our best to find out. That can mean getting attitudes from physicians for calling, or getting yelled at from a family member for it not being quick enough. If I sound like I’m in all directions with this blog, it’s because this is how it is. Pure chaos. Trying to please. Trying to stabilize a patient in respiratory distress while another patient’s bathroom pipes are leaking, and the wife is calling pt relations because “ this is unacceptable” …and of course its all the nurses fault. Welcome to nurse life. The most beautiful, epic, draining, vulnerable, crazy, dysfunctional, foul smelling, dirty, and noisy job you could ever have. Now back to coffee. Coffee keeps me sane. I drink coffee for my patients protection. And I know many other nurses do too!
For those of you who don’t know me well, I have been a nurse for almost two and a half years. I started out my career on a Cardiac Step Down unit in 2013 dealing with almost every cardiac procedure that can be preformed today. We got multiple pre and post op PCI patients, Cardiac ablations, TAVR’s, Open heart, CEA’s….this list goes on. It was a huge learning curve for me. That is where my heart for cardiac nursing evolved. I got engaged to a handsome, bearded hawty in January of 2014 and moved to ATL where I took a job on a Cardiac Intervention and EP floor. We pulled sheaths from heart catheterizations and took a few others types of patients. Pulling sheaths was not my cup of tea and neither was working under poor management. I was kind of at a point where I wanted something new. Something more challenging. I didn’t know what that entailed. It was about 4 months ago that the idea of “Float Nursing” struck my eyes on a hospital website. I always viewed float nursing as a job for older, experienced nurses. I saw that the experience requirements were a 2 year minimum so I just decided to go for it. Three months later, I have been floating my heart out!
I’ve gotten experience on Oncology, Women’s surgery, GI, Neuro, Pulmonary/Thoracic, and of course Cardiology. It’s been a quick three months, but I have learned a ton already! I received a lot of opinion from friends and co-workers about going to Float Pool. “ I wouldn’t feel safe doing that.” “ You get the worst team assignments.”….the list goes on. The reality of it all is that you make what you make of it! Being a “safe” nurse consists of a lot of elements. The “nurse instinct” is one. The ability to recognize when a pt is going “downhill” early or something is just not right. This instinct comes with time and experience. I feel that I am continuously sharpening this instinct with every situation I encounter. Also, asking questions and asking for help. These floors you float to know that this isn’t your specialty. You HAVE to ask and not just go at things alone. Nursing is totally a team effort. As far as “crappy assignments” go, yes….there are days where you get all of the crazies. The crazy Xanax addict who grabs your arm like the Incredible Hulk, screaming to get the meds, or the patient smoking in the bathroom and when asked to stop, they put the cigarette in the sink and turn the water on. Yes….we do get those….but not always. Does it make me hate my job? Absolutely not. You kind of just have to come on to a shift with your game face. I always remind myself that this job is awesome. Three days a week, good benefits, good pay, and whether I see or feel it that day or not, I’m making a difference for someone. I would say all in all, I like this new gig. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s rewarding. And I’ve also gotten to meet a lot of awesome new friends who are truly passionate about what they do and understand the challenges that this job can bring! Nurses are amazing people!
Two more things before I end this blog. One is a tip I learned from the best teammate, the tech! My biggest challenge in nursing is someone else’s poop. Wether they are incontinent, they have to use a bed pan, or an ostomy, I struggle. My patients frequently ask me why I’m wearing a mask to do “doo-ties” that involve cleaning, scooping, or emptying poop. They proceed to tell me that other nurses don’t wear them. I politely tell them that I’m a little more sensitive than the average person to the smell of bowel contents. Bed pans get to me the most. Mostly having to empty them in the toilet and washing them out, having watered- poop spray everywhere from the pressure of the toilet sprayer!!! SO GROSS!
Well guess WHAT!? There is a solution. Before putting the bedpan under a patient who is going to have a BM, place a disposable absorbant chuck on top of the bed pan. Form the chuck to the pan itself, but make sure the chuck is centered. Place the patient on top of the pan with the chuck in place. When the patient is done, have them log roll off, and you then can wrap the chuck up with its “contents” and throw it in the garbage. Clean bed pan and no flying watered poop in the bathroom!!! GENIUS!!! Seriously…works wonders!
I just want to touch on something a little more serious before I come to an end. I lost a patient recently who ended up passing without family, friends, or anyone at their bedside other than the nurses. It was probably one of the most disturbing things that I have experienced in my nursing career thus far, because it provoked an array of emotion that I have never felt before. Sadness, hurt, sympathy, brokenness….I really can’t explain. It was extremely hard for me to care for this patient because they weren’t exactly “comfortable”, despite our nursing efforts to do so per our medical orders. A team of nurses and myself did our best to be those people at this patients bedside those last few hours. To be the consolers and hand holders, while having to go on with our care of other patients who had no clue that this was going on outside of their care. It was an extremely draining and hard day. You encounter things as a nurse that you don’t necessarily want to, but per your duties, you have to. I felt that I attempted to “assume the position” as best as I could, but I truly had the hardest time. I’m so thankful for the individuals that I worked with that day who were able to come through and support me in that endeavor. When it’s YOUR patient, you take on different emotions than others helping. I felt responsible to make this person comfortable, and it just seemed we couldn’t fully.We sang, held this patient’s hand, and I tried to do all that my body and spirit would allow me to. To say it was “hard” is an understatement. Did I think I was going to have to watch someone take their last breaths that day when I woke up that morning? Absolutely not. That day, I did the best I could. Not many jobs put you in the vulnerable positions that nursing does. We never know what we are in for in a day of work. Nurses are angels and I believe are called.
I know that this was a lot. A lot of funny, a lot of random, and a little sadness. That is nursing. It’s a job of emotions that you have to try your best to deal with in a way that works for you. I love what I do. I will do nursing my whole life. This IS my heart. I encourage anyone pursuing the profession or in the profession to just take a deep breath and know that everyday, we make a difference. Days are long. They can be hard and unexpected. We work our butts off 7 to 7. If a nurse passes off a simple task like hanging a new bag of fluids that is almost up, just pick up where they left off. It’s a 12 hr shift, yall. Report doesn’t necessarily make you understand the day that they had. Nurses need to all be on the same team! Just remember. Drink your coffee! And when you do, remind yourself it brings you joy! Get through those long hard days. Love on your patients and take that “down time” to talk with them.