Overheard- charge nurse discussion with an irate patient who was offended that, after curing her pseudo seizure with an ammonia cap, her nurse told her boyfriend "some people do things like this for attention".
Patient: "And when I was unresponsive, I heard that nurse say 'some people'. What's he mean some people, that shit is racist!"
Charge:"Okay ma'am, can you tell me which nurse said that?"
Patient: "Yeah, it was that Mexican son-bitch right there!"
And all I have to say is YUP. Working at a trauma center has really opened my eyes to the depths of stupidity to which the human race is capable of going. I really thought I had seen it all working at Hood Hospital, what with some of the insane complaints people used to check in with, but obviously I wasn't anticipating taking care of those same people on Friday night, after they'd been at the club and had a beer or six and ended up in some kind of unfortunate situation requiring trauma services.
I still don't agree with it, but it almost makes me understand the attitudes people up here have a little bit better. There's about an equal amount of stupidity, but since alcohol seems to be involved more often here, it's kind of like a more aggressive variety of stupidity with less of the redeeming human element. Although the worst cases aren't the ones with people operating automobiles/motorcycles/bikes/motorized wheelchairs/whatever under the influence of some unadvisable substance, which could be somewhat attributed to impaired judgement related to said substances. Nope, I'm talking pure, organic, unaltered poor decision making skills and what we in the medical community refer to as being really, really dumb.
For example, I took care of a guy a couple weeks ago who wrecked his car into a stationary object, and like so many others before him, came to the ER back boarded, c-collared and acting a complete fool. Just by the nature of the accident, we all assumed he was on something to be acting this way and to, you know, have a collision with something incapable of swerving into his lane, but the tox screen was negative for everything. We were all confused and thinking about calling in Dr. House or whatever until I heard him talking on the phone while I was walking by the room.
"Huh? Haha, yeah bro, you know what happened? So like, I was tweeting, right, and then like BOOM! I like, ran into this pole, yo! HAHAHA I know, right! Yeah, it's fuckin' crazy man! So like, hey, do you think you can pick me up from the hospital? HAHA yeah dude, and like, my nurse, she's pretty hot, I think I'm gonna try and get her number bro. Ha. Yeah man, Twitter. It's like, so crazy."
The scary part is, I'm sure he operates a condom probably about as well as he operates an automobile, so I'm sure he's out there. In the gene pool. Tell your descendants I'm sorry when the world become the movie Idiocracy but in real life.
No one can do this alone. At any given point, one of us is going to have more on our plate than we can handle, patient-wise. My attitude tends to be that I should help whenever I can, because just maybe that favor will be returned when I really need it later. Plus, the time passes a lot faster when you're working hard. A couple of people out there tend to abuse this mentality, though.
I distinctly remember the first time it happened to me as a new nurse. I had just been released from my internship at Hood Hospital. Super awesome preceptor number #2 had instilled in me the importance of teamwork from the first day she worked with me, so when I noticed my partner got an ambulance, I hopped up to help him start it. He hopped up, got a cup of coffee, and sat back down at the nurses' station. At that point, I was already in his room getting report from EMS. I was utterly shocked and appalled by the whole situation and recounted it to ER BFF in the break room later that night. She nodded knowingly. "Yup. Some people like to play that tag you're it game. Oh! You're in the room? You're it! Your ambulance now! Nope. I don't play that shit. I don't help those people unless they're drowning." And after that day, I became a slightly wiser nurse and learned to let the lazy people screw themselves.
I've pretty already much figured out who is and isn't safe to help out at the new place. If you're on your iPhone dicking around on Facebook at any point during the shift unless the place is just dead, you're pretty much on your own. However, I picked up a mid shift the other day to bail out a friend, and they apparently decided to pair the night shift girl with the tag champion. I've taken report from this guy enough times to know that he's lazy, but I found out that day that he is a special brand of ballsy lazy. Most run-of-the-mill lazy people will at least make themselves scarce and hide out in the break room or the bathroom by CT or some shit, but ballsy lazy people will straight up stare at you with their feet on the desk and watch you do single-rescuer CPR.
Yeah, well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but only a little bit. I'm charting when I see an ambulance roll into his room- this patient is obviously FUBAR. Like, look of impending doom on his face, diaphoretic, pale, no IV, oh, and covered in some really c-diff-y smelling poo just for good measure. At this point it's about an hour from shift change. I immediately go to work looking for IV access while EMS gives me a report I'm taking down in my head. I grab a frightened EMT student walking by to start vitals and an EKG. Monitor shows an OMG WTF looking rhythm, alarms are dinging all over the place, this dude has crap for veins, and demanding family member shows up making demands about us getting the patient water and cleaning up the poo immediately, as if it hasn't been there since yesterday. Tag king walks back and forth several times throughout this fun process, watching the madness unfold. He looks at the monitor, looks down to avoid eye contact with me, and keeps going. In any other case, I would probably walk out and tell him off, but I was legitimately worried that this patient was going to die. Luckily for everyone, one of the medics walked by, saw the chaos, grabbed a doctor and we all collectively got the dude somewhat stabilized.
I walk out of the room sweating to find tag king giving report and texting. I immediately walk back into the room, grab two packs of wipes, drop them on the desk in front of him, and say, "C'mon tag king! I've got your ambulance started, but I'm gonna need some help cleaning him up!" Homeboy sure did end up staying about 20 minutes after his shift to clean up the c-diff assplosion, too. I helpfully turned the patient and made sure he didn't miss any spots. Tag, bitch.
I feel like a broken record apologizing for being gone so much. I'm just having a hard time lately. Work has been shenanigans heavy. It's frustrating, because on one level it's funny stuff and good blog material, if I was somewhere else in my head. My eyes are just wide open these days, to the debauchery and the awfulness and the misery of what I do. Of the sadness of laughing at things that aren't really funny. I can put on a brave face at work, but at home I stew over what the hell I'm actually doing here. Most of my coworkers, even the nice ones, have given up on people a long time ago. I somehow still haven't, and I almost think it makes it harder for me sometimes. I pray, I push myself to be kind and open-minded, even when my brain and gut are sending me all these signals that I should just put my guard up and shut down. I'm still getting burned after all this time, but I still don't want to change. In fact, I'm beating myself up about not being better. About having to think about being nice. Making myself sick over the times that I'm not perfect.
It's basically the same old struggle that I find myself more or less aware of from day to day. I've always had insanely high standards for everyone around me and even higher standards for myself to the point that I'm usually at least a little bit disappointed. Usually it just means I try incredibly hard and take pleasure in little accomplishments while constantly pushing to do more. Usually I can see the the good through the ugliness in the world and accept it for what it is. But occasionally I just get so overwhelmed by it all that it just seems pointless. How can I be more than a drop in the bucket when everything is already so wrong? I alternate between feeling like part of the problem and feeling so alienated from everyone and everything that I question whether there is anything I can do to help.
I grapple with this every few months at least- teetering between maintaining my borderline unsustainably idealistic worldview and going completely over the edge into frustration and hopelessness. Taking an honest inventory of myself and questioning whether I really have what it takes to make anything better. So far adulthood has meant that I don't allow myself to constantly get overwhelmed and saddened by the challenge at hand like I did when I was younger, but the expectations stay the same. With age I've gotten tough enough deal with it, to push the critical narrative out of my head long enough to get things done, but it's still easy to get stuck inside my own head sometimes.
Anyway. I think and I hope that I will push through the other side of this soon. I have in the past. I just wonder now if this is something that I'll always be dealing with, or if at some point I'll start seeing things like everyone else seems to. I'm really not sure which one I want.
Okay, I shouldn't say this is my pet peeve, because I think a lot of things qualify, but specifically, OMG you guys I just cannot deal with screaming. I try really, really hard. It's mostly not my fault- when I was little, my parents and doctor thought I was maybe autistic there for a little while, partially because excessive auditory input stresses me out hardcore. So, yeah, obviously this issue has not been resolved in adulthood and whenever I am around someone who is screaming constantly I pretty much want to either lose my shit and scream back or run far, far away.
Don't lecture me. I know it's wrong. I legitimately cannot help the feeling, and I've learned to override it for short periods and then I'm like "OMG I NEED TO GTFO OF HERE YESTERDAY" and then I basically just have to run away. One of the many reasons I could never work L&D.
But, I guess my point is, despite my intolerance, I want to understand. I've been in pain, but I guess in not enough pain? When I hurt, I just want to curl into a ball and try to breathe and just hope I pass out maybe. Screaming, at that point, seems like a lot of energy. Are there studies about this? Does this help anyone? Am I the only crazy person who literally cannot deal with this?
So, apparently when Hood Hospital 2 was like "we might give you an intern" the meant TOMORROW. So I have a baby nurse with me now guys, learning all my profanity laden hood rat ways. Oh man. I tried to be professional for like, 2 hours, and then the floor was giving my intern crap about taking report and I was like "put those bitches on the phone right now, I will go up there and cut them if I have to" and just like that, the facade was OVER. Luckily, my intern is amazingly super awesome. Like so much smarter than I was at that stage in my career. But she doesn't know how awesome she is, so she is still super cautious and humble, which makes her ever more awesome. And she has some life experience and isn't totally naive and dumb like I was when I started, so she doesn't mind the fact that I'm potty mouthed and ghetto. I almost feel like it's making precepting too easy for me.
But I get to teach her all the experienced RN type of nuggets. Like, we're working on doorway assessments, the right stuff to say to patients and docs to make them happy, and charting tricks to cover your butt. And I see the gears turning in her head and it makes me super happy. It helps that she actually has clinical experience, so I don't have to try to find the words to try to explain how to start an IV or something.
I was so stressed out about precepting a new grad after my own experience. My first preceptor gave up on me so fast, and she was so hardcore and so unhelpful that I worried I would swing the other direction with my own new grad and help too much and be a huge softie, and end up releasing somebody who wasn't ready or wasn't cut out for the ER. Although I may still be a bit of a softie, I have no doubts that this gal can handle it. And somehow I feel a little more confident in myself being able to verbalize what exactly to look for when dealing with a sick patient. I'm glad I've waited this long- I'm not sure I would've been ready when Hood Hospital 1 started throwing this out to me as an option. So yeah. Precepting is rad. And I'm making an effort to help out the on their own baby nurses, and another friend is coming over from Hood Hospital 1, so maybe we'll just take this bitch over.
I know my optimism may be silly, but it's how I do. I just miss the strange tough positivity and kindness that shaped my nursing career when I started. I'm gonna sneak in here and make it happen again.
Sorry I've been a neglectful blogger as of late, guys. I've had the experience- one that I occasionally get, of being slapped in the face by self-awareness to the point where I'm like, "Oh, yeah. Maybe I should just STFU for a while." I feel like I am perpetually just going on pointless profanity-laden rants about how everyone sucks- seriously, I was not aware of how much I actually swear until I saw multiple links to this blog with a disclaimer like, "hey, this stuff is funny but this girl swears like ALL THE TIME so be on the look out for that". Which, sorry. I should probably try and swear less but I find profanity funny so that's gonna be a challenge. Sorry. So, it seems like on any given week I oscillate between ragey days where I just want to punch everything but then I switch to a state where I'm sad and crying, a lot, for like, hardly any reason at all other than the fact that I care about everything a whole lot and I want to do everything and be way better than I am but I still manage to be kind of a shitty person a good portion of the time. I know there's probably meds for this but this is literally the only way I know how to be and who I am at this point. And, I mean, I have big chunks in between where I don't overanalyze everything and I'm a basically happy-I'm not that crazy- but anyway- I feel like the less-than-desirable aspects of my personality are reflected a little too much in my blogging at times. The truth is, though, this is kind of where I am right now.
I'm really in a conflicted and upsetting place in my head right now. I just- wanted things to be different than how they are. I just feel like I don't belong where I am right now, which is weird, because I'm finally being accepted here. But the better I get to know these people, the more it's evident to me that I don't really belong here. Hood Hospital was somewhat of an anomaly in that there was an overwhelming sense that you were all in it together. That place was so ridiculously horrible that you had no choice but to band together and treat everyone with some degree of love and respect- even if you didn't like them- because you almost had no other choice. It was what was best for everyone, and it was the culture there. This is your team, and if you weren't helping your team then something was wrong with you. People who normally weren't inclined to help learned to do it, because that was how it was. And either naturally, or as a result, everyone seemed to care. Not just about each other, but the patients. The gruffest and most zero-bullshit people still had kind, pure hearts underneath it all. They were solid people. Obviously, there were the outliers who could have cared less about any of it, but they weren't the ones in leadership positions. They weren't the ones that people looked to for advice. They weren't the people the young nurses looked to when they decided what kind of nurse they wanted to be. The core group-the ones who held that ER together- were all the type of people that I pray will be taking care of me or my loved ones should we ever need it.
It just isn't like that where I am now. The leadership here is really weird. The actual management is so far removed from everything that they are completely and utterly clueless, so the department is essentially run by a core group of girls. I say girls because not only is it all young women, but they act like high school mean girls. They take care of each other and the people they like, and everyone else is on their own. They all think of themselves as hard workers- I guess they are for one another- but they tolerate laziness among their friends at work and no one seems to have a problem with it. They talk about everyone-including one another-behind their backs. This is the kind of crap that I am old enough to ignore and rise above, but the real problem is their attitude towards the patients. In that it's gross and awful. Like, it actually makes me really, really sad to see. The population here is similar to Hood Hospital in the most of the patients are poor, uneducated, and on some kind of public assistance. It seems to me that to my current coworkers, this is somehow synonymous with being stupid, or lesser somehow, and that it's alright to completely dismiss them and treat them like shit. I was talking about a very sweet patient I was taking care of with one of these girls when another chimed in "I hate hearing you talk about these patients. You talk about them like they're people. They're animals." It's not that bad universally, but the overall approach is definitely not a kind or compassionate one. Which is unfortunate on it's own, but it's also the culture being taught to the new nurses here, which is even worse. They're being precepted by the people who call the patients animals. Obviously they aren't going to learn to try and preserve their compassion or keep themselves from burning out unless they're inclined to do so on their own. I'm seeing young nurses cynical way beyond their years- and this is coming from someone who's pretty cynical myself- and it makes me sad.
I feel self-righteous and judgmental coming out and talking about this, even on an anonymous blog. I feel like the judgments I'm passing on them are similar to the judgments passed on me by people who've read bits of what I have to say who have decided they know what kind of nurse I am. And maybe that's just how it is. I feel though, like I actually do see what kind of nurses these people are. And I don't like what I see. I haven't from the start, but I've tried for a while to give them the benefit of the doubt. My mind just hasn't changed. I've been here for a while now, and I'm really stumped on how to proceed.
I haven't gone unnoticed here. Even the mean girls seem to recognize I'm a decent nurse, and seem to like me as much as they're capable of liking other people. I've gotten enough positive feedback from patients that management wants me to start precepting new grads, which is something I've always wanted to do. They've also mentioned charging, which I'm obviously not ready for yet here, but it's an interesting proposition, because I feel like I'm in a position to bring some positivity to the culture here. Just as the team atmosphere at Hood Hospital was starting to crumble as I was leaving due to some apathetic charge nurses, I feel like I could help it to swing the other way here. A lot of these people, especially the new nurses, have lots of potential and haven't been changed by the culture here yet. Some part of me- maybe the stupidly idealistic part- really believes I can work to make this place how I want it to be. Another part of me feels like it's too much and I should just find somewhere else that won't drag me down.
I feel like it's Hood Hospital- and probably just a theme in my life- repeating itself. Do I try and save the world, or just try and save my sanity?