Remember when I spent my last semester of nursing school binge-watching Breaking Bad? Then there was Downton Abby (and then Matthew died and I couldn’t move on). A few weeks ago I stumbled on this number ‘Jane The Virgin’ thinking it would be a re-make of ‘Secret Life of the American Teenager’ (yes…I watched that too..) and it basically is. Except for it knows that it’s a crazy show and totally plays it up so it works! Anyways, a few weeks ago I found out that the newest episodes aren’t on Netflix. Shoot. So while waiting for J.T.V to get updated on the streaming service I’m willing to pay for, I resorted to test-tasting ‘Orange Is The New Black’. Ever heard of it? Probably. I’d heard of it but really wasn’t planning on watching it because watching a story about a gal in a ladies prison just didn’t appeal to me (…and a high school science teacher becoming a methamphetamine drug lord did….?). After 2 episodes before working a nightshift I couldn’t keep going. Not because I wasn’t getting into the storyline a bit, but because all the emotions it was swimming through (and some of the character/environmental set-up) was totally giving me deja-vu to working in a womens hospital. Not the way to walk into night shift eh? Oh yeah, and I’m not saying that my workplace is a prison. Just that is shares a lot of the same emotional waves and colleague relations that are portrayed in this particular drama that takes place in a womens prison! (but without the lesbian sex), and we have a ton of sharp things everywhere that we aren’t strip-searched for. Thank goodness because I’d be incarcerated for the rest of my life for the number of times I find packages of needles in my washing machine…oops.
I can’t figure out if I like this show or not. It depends how close I am to my next shift. But for real this so reminds me of learning the ropes of bedside nursing (especially womens health!!) Not so much about patient-nurse relations but more of nurse-nurse relations. It’s a total jungle out there. If you work in a hospital you know what I mean. As a new nurse you are the Piper Chapman of your environment and you will probably meet a Miss Claudette, a Red, a Nicky, and maybe a Yoga Jones. You will most definitely have a Crazy Eyes on your unit. A lot of people won’t be able to recall her name but they definitely know who she is by some notable feature . Nothing labels you as the unit ‘Crazy Eyes’ quite like running into a resident in a public restroom outside of work and staring at them for about 30 seconds before saying:
Me: “you work at Magee right? So do I.”
Resident: “oh! yeah. I know you…” *looks confused*
Me: “it’s the hair.”
Resident: “It really is.”
So here’s the scuttle at work and life:
When your preceptor surveys your face after saying you’re going to do something solo…
When the physician points out the stupid thing you did, and another nurse looks at you with the “What The Heck Is She Even Doing?..Look” (the answer is: I DO NOT KNOW! I’ll let you know when that changes, but if you’ve got a minute to spare I could really use another set of hands to help me slap a band-aid over whatever this nutzo situation is! K. Thanks.)
But you still manage to behave accordingly:
Angrily shoving your scrubs into the scrub machine’s mouth after a bad day:
…but when you get into your shower:
When you catch a nosy family member looking at the computer chart in the patient’s room and deciding they can interpret the fetal heart rate tracing/contraction pattern to the patient instead of you.
Postpartum Throwback: When it’s 30 min before shift change and you have a mag patient who just lost BOTH IV access sites, and a patient being ruled out for a PE all the sudden:
How I actually spend my off days:
When your admission is kinda bossy/defensive and says she’s going to have a natural birth…
What the Mother-Baby unit looks like between 10am and 1pm and everyone is trying to leave. (Doctors, nurses, patients, discharges, students, and visitors all trying to move at the same time in the same place. Oh, plus babies.)
When a (rather bossy-self-important-slightly-too-well-read) patient says that her pain isn’t under control because we’re giving her Motrin and her doctor said to take ibuprofen.
LDR vs. Postpartum on a Bad Day:
**This is for funny sake, we all have bad days and sometimes the nature of our positions sort of pits us up for frustration towards other departments even when it really isn’t anything the other did. You’re just a tired grump who doesn’t want a 6:50pm admission.
Being asked to do skin-to-skin in the OR when you have 5 scheduled and 2 surprise c-sections back to back:
Trying to use the new online scheduling system:
When you’re about to go into a room to NAN a baby and a provider (whom you’ve never seen before in your life) pulls you aside and says “I know she’s planning on bottlefeeding but can you just get her to breastfeed? Tell her the baby looks like he wants to breastfeed.” You:
*I will never guilt-convert a mom to breastfeeding. I will offer/explain and if she seems curious I’ll help her, encourage her etc… BUT if she flat out says she’s bottlefeeding, has 1+ other kids I’m not even going there.
Charge nurses making assignments for the next shift:
When parents watch you do anything in the nursery:
When your patient tells you she’ll never send her baby to the nursery because “they hit the babies down there!”…ok so I’ll make a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ crib card for your kid…
When you see the next shift come on and you’re team is exploding with deliveries, security has been called several times for crazy family members and a then there’s a Code Blue:
So I tried to find more nice-not-irritated GIFs and funnies to share with you about how many super cool patient and nurse interactions I’ve had recently too and then I got tired of making my computer over-heat with all the animations on it’s desktop. In case I never told you (because I never talk to you anymore..) I had a little work-shift recently. I transferred from the Mother-Baby Unit to Labor & Delivery. You know what is funny? (and kind of sad) for the time I was feeling the itch to do something else the only thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want to do L&D. I was 100% positive that it was the last place on nursey earth I would willingly sell myself too and so now I’m there…makes total sense. No really, for me it kinda does! Lately my life trend has been “Everything happening out of the blue and all at once or not at all”. So I guess this fits.
Leaving my first nurse job was really hard because it’s hard to leave somewhere you finally feel somewhat comfortable/capable, and where you’re plugged into the social scuttle with friends and people who look out for you and help you survive the day. Entering a different unit in the same hospital doesn’t have all the difficulties of changing work environments entirely but it still has it’s share of transitional oddities. People can be familiar with you but not have the same connection and support that you built with your previous unit. That takes time and unfortunately you sort of have to prove yourself all over again 😦 And by that I mean you have to demonstrate that you are able to carry out safe patient care on that unit and contribute to your team effectively. I remember this from starting on postpartum too, it felt like everyone had to be my teacher and not my friend and I was drowning. This is not bad really, it is how it has to be while you are new until you can swim without arm floaties. Plus, it’s better to have more eyes on you than too few. But being the new kid on the playground is lonely, you know how that is.
So for now I’m helping birth the bebbies and living like anyone would live when they see a lot of concentrated glory and sin. Which is basically living to go home and sleep off your emotions. I am actually terrified of each shift I have yet to complete of my labor/delivery nurse life and my main coping mechanisms are melatonin, yoga and car crying. At this rate I’ll live till I’m 30. *JOKES GUYS,jokes.* I’m probably going to make it a few more years after that but the whole living in terror of not knowing how to handle a situation or doing something that might hurt a patient or kill their baby (not to mention the possibility of being torn in half by the law if they take you to court) is a little overwhelming when you think about it for more than 5 seconds…
The other day Jonathan was encouraging me after work by saying how if there was a situation in which I didn’t know what to do or was scared all I needed to do was call for help. My response was not my proudest moment but it was the eruption of a cold fact–help isn’t always a certainty. There are times when there is nobody available to come help. The charge nurse is in a delivery, your team is all having issues at once. The whole unit is trying to bail out the water but we feel the boat struggle to stay above water. And it’s true for all of medicine but so so much in birth—Minutes Matter. Each minute waiting for a baby’s heart rate to return to baseline is another minute of potential wasted time if it ends in going to the operating room. What if I wait too long? What if my slowness to act or know what to do causes permanent damage to a newborn or worse–permanent sorrow to a family? What if I act incorrectly and loose the respect of my coworkers and the confidence of my patient? What if I try to do the right thing and then I get an email in my inbox to have a conference with the manager over a bad situation? What if I get deposed and find out in that case I forgot to chart my interventions? So yes, in most cases I always have help at hand. But I have to think and prepare like I will have none. Maybe this isn’t the best way to think but for now it’s how I’m learning to cope with great responsibility and great fear of what can happen.
Aside from the gloom and doom of my catastrophic “chicken little” style thoughts up there I can’t not give great admiration and credit to the nurses I work with, both in my postpartum experience and now in labor & delivery. They are super and I love watching each individual nurses strengths. Someone is a toco wizard while another is awesome at IV’s and another can bring calm to any crazy meltdown, not to mention the charge nurses who make you feel like things are just gonna have to be O.K. no matter what. There’s nothing quite like needing help and the nurse who walks in the door saves your nursey butt! (or at least makes you look less dumb in front of the patient) Believe me, I know this feeling well 😉 When staffing is horrible and the expectations placed by management are insane, nurses protect their own. The nurses I watch in the labor suite survive on teamwork and maybe that’s part of why I fear the breakdown/lack of the team. In reality over the short time I’ve been learning how to do labor&delivery I have always had helpful teams and preceptors. I know that 99% of the time that is the case and it’ll be fine. But that doesn’t really make me feel less crazy.
I think the thing that keeps me level (at least while on the clock) is meditating on the belief that God goes before me in that next shift. He already knows the patients I will care for and he has predetermined that our paths will cross as part of his plan. Even when I am angry, fearful and don’t see a good reason for things to occur in the way they occur or when I feel extremely incompetent to deal with a patient or situation.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
The other day I was discussing the question of what make it ‘easier’ to believe in Heaven. My thoughts about Heaven and Hell have changed over my life and now Heaven to me is when God makes everything right, redeemed, and relationships whole again. Hell is a space without God and therefore void of relationship–which to a creature built for relationship is death. Seeing sin and sorrow doesn’t weaken my belief that there is a God or Heaven, it just heightens my need to see them. Listening to a man curse at the mother of his child, seeing fear in a man’s face as his wife is emergently whisked away to the operating room, looking at a mother’s face fall when the last bit of hope for a miracle is dashed and her stillborn is really dead. To zip a tiny body bag shut over small blue feet decorated with a yellow tag. Those are the moments when our souls simultaneously cry out “God, why!?” and “God…when?”. And after that surge, there can be a small peace. A small place of great calm and rest in the hope of Heaven. Not in a self-righteous place of reward for earthly living, but in the real dwelling place of a relational God who pursues us most fervently in the midst of our sin and our broken world. The Heaven he will build on earth in His own time, which is far beyond our comprehension. So I guess my real coping mechanism is just I have to believe that it won’t be this way someday, and that for now there is wonderful glory in even the darkest moments through the kind souls I work with and the souls we are privileged to care for.
As always, if all that I just said there isn’t your cup of tea that is all good and I just say those things because it’s my blog and I’ll theologically cry if I want too but am so happy you stuck around even if it was just for kicks. So much love to you!
Thanks for listening! Hope you’re day is rad.
Also, if the title of this post is confusing and irrelevant, you’re right. It was my weak attempt to referencing one of my favorite TV shows and the change from me wearing black&white scrubs to blue scrubs. Haha, thanks for indulging me..