Right at shift change I knew that something was wrong. My gut was screaming at me to start the day by checking her first. Things just didn’t seem right. Her labs looked terrible. SHE looked terrible.
Yesterday she sat in the chair talking. Today she just moaned.
Her blood pressure was dropping. Doctors were called. Extra help arrived. New eyes. Fresh ideas. She just kept dropping, though. Nothing would fix it. Nothing helped. She just looked terrible.
And still … she just moaned.
We moved her to ICU. Family had to be called. They needed to know. I told them about her pressure. The extra help, the fresh ideas. I told them that nothing was fixing it. Nothing. They told me, “she seemed great yesterday.”
I told them that today she just moans.
God, please. Help this sweet patient. Help this family.
Time to walk away. Shake it off. Move forward. Catch up. Press on. Four more waited for me back upstairs on my unit. Emergencies happen. My patients all knew. They understood. But time had ticked on. They were waiting. It was noon now. The morning was gone. They needed their meds. They needed their nurse.
And no matter what else had just happened – most importantly, they needed ME.
The chaos kept growing. There was no catching up. The phone kept ringing. It seriously would not stop. Doctors rounded. Alarms beeped. Patients coming. Patients going. Procedures. Surgeries. Discharges. Admissions. Incessant interruptions. Endless day.
Closing in on shift change. Finally. Night shift arriving. Hope beckons. Still haven’t had time to chart, but almost done with patient care. Pulling meds for one more. Just one more. Long list, but last patient. I can do this. Almost there.
Phone rings again. Another interruption. Doctor calling. I’m listening. I’m writing. Whoops … don’t let the Pyxis time out. Don’t want to start all over again. Keep pulling meds. Need a few more. Just keep listening. Just keep writing. Just keep pulling. I can do this. Almost there. Almost done.
Hang up phone. Put down pen. Grab last pill and start to shut drawer with one fluid movement of the right hand. Add some gusto! And a celebratory slam to end a very long day.
Phone rings yet again as you suddenly remember that you had actually needed TWO pills on that last med, not just one.
Split second, brain-fried thinking: “Left hand, be the hero! Lightning-fast reach and grab that drawer before it slams shut!”
Bad move. Didn’t work. Absolute, bloody fail. Literally. Ouch. Serious Ouch.
Do you know how hard it is to put a bandaid on when you’re bleeding from BOTH sides of your finger???
Where do you put the sticky part???
And what if your phone won’t stop ringing?
And the patient is waiting??
And shift change is looming???
And it really, really hurts?????
Later that night when I was finally finished, one of the night nurses asked me what I was planning to do on my day off. I told him I was going to stare. Just sit and stare. He laughed. He thought I was joking.
I was not joking.
The next day I sat in my “happy room” and just stared at this crazy bird print. I love this picture. It just makes me smile. Take a good look at it. It represents me. I love birds. I love orange and red and blues and greens. I love black and white. I love abstract. I love precision. I love music. I obviously love words.
Mostly, though, I love the attitude in this bird’s posture.
I want this for myself. I want this for my colleagues who serve in the trenches with me. I want this for my family and friends. I want this for anyone out there who is struggling. I want this for the family of that patient. She did not make it. They need our prayers. Yes, they do.
Some days are just ridiculously tough. No matter what you do. As nurses, I know we all feel the choke of the unending multi-tasking. We want to slow down, but we can’t.
People’s lives are depending on us.
We constantly struggle under that weight. We need defiance, energy, and strength to help us withstand that pressure. To help us keep all those plates spinning. To keep us coming back. To keep us WANTING to come back.
We can try all we want to find strength in a bottle, or a workout, or anywhere else. But those will all fail us at some point. Believe me. Believe HIM.
The only place to get this is from Jesus. Resting in Him. Truly. He is THE source of unending strength and energy. He is the one I can claim in defiance against the weariness that threatens. He is the only one who can fill my heart to the overflowing with His love.
And He is definitely the one who ordains that overflow back to his people every time I put my scrubs on in His beautiful name. And I can’t wait till the next time. Even if I have no idea what I’m walking into when I get there. And even if there’s a chance I’ll slam my hand in the Pyxis again. Ouch.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you.” (John 15:16)