Friday, 14 May 2010

The Daily Grind

I went to bed last night dreading today's work shift...I woke up in the exact same state of mind...still dreading the next twelve hours to follow. So I have decided to chronicle my twelve hour work shift, with a little hope that it will cause the day to fly by.

8:30-9:30: I arrive with a medium, extra-hot, no foam, latte attached to my hand, and definitely dispirited. I had no time to wash my hair and somehow cut my hand while digging around in my make up box. Dried blood on my middle phalange, and feeling like something the cat dragged in, my co-worker seems happy to see me. We sit and talk for a few minutes about a certain doctor (that shall not be named for my own safety), while I put a band-aid on my finger. I've wandered back to my side and started doing doctors' orders, while two of the nurses sit and talk about mortgages and lines of credit with the pharmacist.

9:30-1030: More doctors' orders, and more nurses not knowing what they're doing or what condition their patient is in. My eyes are starting to burn and feel itchy for some reason, and my little scapula is aching. I feel as though I'm in fluorescent hell today. John Mayer is relentlessly crooning "don't hold your love over my head", and I'm slowly starting to settle into today's pace, though I still feel a bit suicidal. I've decided that the worst thing about today is the incessant phone calls and call bells going off. I just engaged in a spirited discussion about tampon brands with one of my favourite nurses, and now am off to deal with more patient issues.

10:30-11:30: Unsuccessfully attempted to book appointment for patient; the surgeon's secretary didn't pick up the phone, which means she's probably at Second Cup enjoying a toasty tea. Although why the deuce anyone would want a toasty tea's raining/grey out, but there's that humidity that we live with in Hamilton, so the air feels thick and still. I don't think they have the "chillers" (air conditioning) on in the hospital yet, because it's crazy warm in here. That's probably the reason my eyes are burning.

I'm trying to decide whether to go on a break at 11 or 11:30. If I go at 11, I can skip any annoying co-workers, but I often start feeling lonely, so maybe 11:15, to get the best of both worlds? These are the dilemmas that I have to sort through...heh, it certainly puts my job into perspective. Nothing important going on here.

I'm attempting to file something, but the patients chart is missing, and has been for a while. I wonder...if it was left downstairs in x-ray, or if the patient is still down there with it. Oh...look at that...chart has made its way back, avec patient. Whee.

11:30-12:30: Ended up going to break late (11:30ish) and munched my way through some low fat strawberry yogurt, old cheddar cheese, tuna, and a bun thing. One of the doctors brought in a bunch of high fat/high sugar/high cal snacks for the nurses (it's Nursing Appreciation Week), so I indulged in a teeny tiny square of brownie. Sitting in the lounge with the bright sunshine warming the sofa and entire room, I could feel myself drooping and drifting off to a nap. Shook myself awake, went back into the nursing station and talked to my co-worker (other clerk) for a few minutes, and am currently back at my desk, drinking ice water, and about to run through my list of tasks I have yet to do.

12:30-13:30: Shenanigans are afoot. The doctor is trying to send a patient home...a patient who is clearly not ready to be sent home. The nurses are attempting to keep the patient in a bit longer. No one is fighting, but I'm not sure how everything is going to go down. I guess it depends on what the RT (respiratory therapist) thinks of the patients breathing/SATs. In the meantime, my nurse manager is on the phone about six feet away from me, making calls and arranging a taxi for herself. This bandaged finger is making it rather hard to type and do other such duties.
Frustrating phone call from a pharmacist, whose first language clearly isn't English, and who babbled on about a certain drug and restrictions? colour? role something? I couldn't make out half of what he was saying and felt bad asking him to repeat himself, so I gave him our fax number and told him to fax me the information. Hopefully he knows how to write English. The patients got lasagna for lunch, and it actually smells rather appetizing.
Side note: It's almost 13:30, and there's lidocaine on my desk. I thought one of the residents wanted it for pulling a chest tube, but no one has come for it so far. Obviously it's not a narcotic as it was tubed (we have a pneumatic tube system that runs through the hospital), but anyone going to come claim it? In the meantime, I'm keeping my beady eyes on the four vials...

13:30-14:30: A conversation about the lidocaine has since ensued, and I handed the four vials off to another nurse. I called a different surgeon's office to book a follow up for a patient, and the secretary was so nice. It's always pleasant to speak to someone who isn't suffering from anger and rage issues.
Holy fast time batman! It's already 14:15, and I've barely looked at the clock. I just had a discussion with a couple other nurses about what we plan on bringing to work tomorrow to snack on. We've settled on fruit, veggies, and chips with salsa. Tomorrow looks promising.
And on the work front: I sorted the pharmacy issue about the LU CODE (limited use code, it turns out) and we've faxed back the information. One of the biggest struggles with working on this unit is the follow work that we consistently have to do, because things don't seem to be done right the first time. It's also extra difficult here because of shift work...some people go home when another line is working, and then we have to sort out ensuing problems, which is difficult when you're not involved in the sitch from the beginning.

14:30-15:30: So far nothing eventful has happened. I did a few more doctors order, and I have this creeping feeling that I'm starting my period soon. Blegh, I feel crampy, although it's possible it might just be an upset stomach/indigestion. The twelve hour shifts feel very lame at this point. My co-worker is going home after eight hours, and now I'm jealous that I'm not the person going home. Right now there is just general confusion and chaos going on...we're not sure what patients we're admitting into what beds...the charge nurse seems a bit oblivious of the chaos we are going through, and I think everyone is going a little crazy at the moment. Blegh. I just wanna get outta here in the warm sunshine--which will be all gone by the time I leave at 8:30pm.
It feels like about time for a break. I'm going insane.

15:30-16:30: Just spent a half hour outside with my charge nurse, pleasant discussions all around. She smoked two cigarettes and I sat and perused a crossword from today's newspaper. It's warm out, for the first time in over a week. Also, super windy, so my hair is now quite wind swept, even though I've tried combing it out.
I took the band-aid off my cut finger and cleaned out the scratch/cut. A nurse reapplied a new band-aid for me, and I find myself quite cheerful, and pleased to be working with people who somewhat care about my well being. Let's see how this blogging goes in four hours...which is all the time I have left! I still have to sort through at least fifteen charts to make sure they are all up to date, and one of the units still needs to have their daily labs/diagnostic tests entered. On top of that, one of the patients that was supposed to go to another floor is staying, and so I have to figure out what to do about their daily ECG order.
I'm feeling the need for another coffee though. The warm fresh air has made me feel even more somnolent than before. The day isn't exactly dragging by, but it's not skipping anymore.
Off I go to convince another nurse to come down to the Second Cup with me.

16:30-17:30: Ran downstairs with my co-worker to grab that coffee. Just after we got back up to our floor, a Code Blue was called for the main lobby. We missed all the excitement. I just admitted a post-op into a bed, did their admission orders/charting, discharged two more patients, and feel ready for a little bit of food.

17:30-18:30: Brief and somewhat awkward supper (consisting of a low-fat muffin and yogurt) as a couple co-workers who dislike each other were in the same room. Conversation was a little stilted/forced, but there were enough extra people in the room to maintain the flow. Looking woefully through the windows outside, the sun is starting to slide down the sky, and the entire day has been wasted sitting indoors, breathing in recycled air (that's still stuffy btw), and working under fluorescent lights. Oh...another patient was admitted, so I'm off to do their orders/take care of their admission stuff. Busy busy busy!! I also planned to work on my resume at some point, but I don't realistically see that happening.

18:30-19:30: I'm getting there! Only two hours left of this godforsaken shift! I'm ready crawl under my desk and take a longgg nap. But back to work. I still have to finish up this admission, and then off to stock up the charts for the weekend. Everything else is basically done, which makes me'll leave me the final hour with not much to do. I prefer to have everything under control by 19:30. ...Military time...gotta love it.
Good news from another one of my co-workers! His wife is pregnant, 16 wks along. The joy erupting among the nurses for him and his wife is precious. When he told everyone sitting in the nursing station, they all started whooping and yelling with excitement. I know for a fact that it's been a struggle for the couple to procreate, so it's great news. Another moment that makes me look fondly at my co-workers. Much of the time I find myself frustrated with their occasional laziness or ignorance or even just plain rudeness, but then they go redeem themselves by being able to happy for other people's moments of joy and pure elation.

19:30-20:30: The last hour...just gotta push right through it. I'm off to stock the charts while the nurses do their shift change report. Grace Havnevik is temporarily replacing John Mayer on my music list, and my eyes are still burning, but maybe from anticipation at getting out of here so soon.
Heyyy...I just tried to open an old document on this computer that I locked, and I can't remember the password I used! I hate it when this happens. Too many accounts and too many passwords. And so much for working on a resume...I haven't had the time to select a style or font, let alone start thinking about references/previous jobs/job skills.
So this hasn't been the MOST accurate depiction of what a day in my job is like, because I didn't mention the hundreds of call bells that I picked up, or how the phone rang all afternoon with people asking stupid questions...Much of my time is spent answering the phones/tracking down nurses to talk to family members/redirecting visitors etc.
I'm thirsty, so off to the kitchen for some water, and now that I've done all my jobs for the day, I can rest easy. I even prepared some stuff for tomorrow morning, as I'll be the only clerk working tomorrow. Oh joy.

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