Monday, June 8, 2009

night shift= babysitting drunks?

Oh. my. god. I never had any idea how much manpower hospitals ended up devoting to people who can't handle their booze. Last week we got the girl with an "asthma attack", who came in via ambulance in nothing but a bikini satting 100. She was a melancholy drunk, though, so it took at least one nurse at all times to stay in the room with her to convince her that she could, in fact breathe, and no, she wasn't dying.
Last night was oddly slow- each nurse had about one patient. Unfortunately, the one that I ended up with was an overdose, apparently a suicide attempt, which consisted of her taking a few OTC sleeping pills and drinking a whole shit ton of alcohol. She was medically stable, but an incredibly belligerent drunk. The charge nurse took her straight back because no one knew how many pills she had actually taken, and by the time she got back to my room she had already started screaming and swearing at him. It took me and another nurse about 15 minutes just to get her to sit still for a blood pressure reading, she spent the whole time screaming and hitting herself in the face and the like. I gave her two doses of valium, which did absolutely nothing but make her yell at me more about how I was just giving her water and I better give her something to calm her down or she was going to cut her wrists. I would have felt bad for her if she hadn't been so damn manipulative- any time she didn't get her way she just screamed at me about how she wanted to die and didn't I understand that. At one point I walked in to hear her talking to her family members about how when her husband called that they just shouldn't answer the phone and they should just let him wonder what happened, since apparently something he had done had precipitated her "suicide attempt". Ugh. Whatever dude.
I was in her good graces-well, at least about half the time- she alternated between telling me how wonderful I was and that I was taking such good care of her and that God was gonna bless me for that, etc. The other half, she would scream and swear at me about why did she have to use the damn bedside commode like an fucking 65-year-old child (I didn't type that wrong, she actually said that), why the hell couldn't she go outside and smoke an fucking cigarette, don't we have any food in this damn place other than crackers, don't we have any mother fucking cheeseburgers? It took all my power at that point not to say, "No M'am, this is an emergency room, not a Mc Donald's. I'm sorry, but we don't have any motherfucking cheeseburgers. Is there anything else I can get you?"
Finally the doctor took mercy on my soul and prescribed some Haldol. I had never given that drug before, but it worked like a charm. She went right to sleep, but unfortunately, her blood pressure completely went to hell, even though she was hypertensive when she came in. So by the time I finally got her behavior under control, I was getting calls from our Tele tech every 5 minutes about my patient's 80/40 blood pressure. She was fine and her sats were still great, but it still made me super nervous and I had to keep giving fluid boluses. Luckily by the time the psych consult came she had woken up a little and her pressure had made it's way slightly out of the toilet.
We finally got her out of there right at shift change. She ended up going to a facility where I had actually started applying right before I got the job I have now. I'm glad things worked out the way they did, because I'm pretty positive I am not equipped to deal with that every day.


  1. I wish we had a place similar to prison/hard labor conditions where these fake suicide types can spend like 6 months or hopes the constant need for drama will disappear. Only in my dreams I suppose. Such a waste of time & money. Sorry you had to deal with her!

  2. The first gal must have taken mushrooms as well as alcohol...from the verbalized paranoia with breathing probs. :)
    As for the verbal abuse...I am glad that I don't have to deal with that anymore...once 911 has been ruled out..if someone is verbally abusive..we get to hang up on them.....nice. ;)