On nurse grabbing and surviving those belly laugh days.

img_5279One thing I love about nursing is the autonomy. Although we obviously have to work within certain parameters and protocols, nurses have the freedom to organize and prioritize our days using our own clinical judgment. I just love this.

And as a hardcore, stuck-in-her-ways, hyper-organized person in my everyday life, I find great comfort in the list-making and planning aspect of this profession. And, honestly, when you’re given multiple patients to care for at once, it’s crucial to take the time to get the day somewhat organized in your mind before you get started.

I call this my “think time”.

This is where you prioritize your patient care, but it also moves you from thinking about each patient INDIVIDUALLY, into how to best balance the team COLLECTIVELY for the entire 12-hour shift.

Believe me, this is a very delicate dance.

So, this “think time” not only benefits the patients, but this is also where I personally grab hold of the day, before it literally grabs hold of me.

But, then there are those days that just laugh at the idea of “think time”.

And this is not just a quick little chuckle at the idea, mind you. I’m talking serious, crack-up belly laughing because you actually thought you’d have the gift of those precious few moments to gather yourself very early on this new morning.

These are the days that just reach out and grab hold of you with no respect to the fact that it’s only 0700, you’ve just had 6 patients’ worth of information heaved at you, and you are seriously already regretting that giant glass of water you drank when you woke up that morning.

These days you’re not even finished getting report yet when your phone rings with the call that nobody wants. These are the days where everything has to absolutely stop before it even has the chance to start because you have a patient who’s already struggling.

No “think time” is needed to prioritize who gets your attention first on these days.

It’s going to be that one whose blood pressure is bottoming out.

Or their glucose level.

Or both.

The one who needs a fast bolus, but they lost their IV. You know … that one with no decent veins left.

That’s who it’ll be.

Or that one who’s rolling around on the bed with the chest pain, all sweaty and grey-tinged.

Or the one who can’t breathe. Have you ever watched someone truly struggling for air? Believe me, you’ll never stop seeing it once you have.

These are the patients that those belly-laugh days point you to real quick. These are the ones you’re probably going to be spending your entire morning with.

You’ll be right there with them as you wait for the room to fill up with all the extra help and equipment that’s on its way. In fact, you won’t leave this patient’s side until that ICU bed finally becomes available and you’re able to transfer them out of your care.

That’s when you’ll finally get to see your other patients. Maybe for the first time.

So, what about them? Those other sick people you’re in charge of who have had no idea what’s going on? The ones you can’t stop thinking about while you try to save another’s life? The ones who you know have been lying there waiting for you???

Well … this is where the autonomy of nursing quickly flows into the teamwork of nursing, my friends. And it’s a thing of true beauty.

Everyone quickly comes together as one – nurses, techs, managers, everybody – like God’s very own hedge of protection. We all step in and protect those other patients by watching over them until the crisis eases.

We’ve all had patients go bad – we all know how much is NOT getting done with our other patients while emergencies happen. Everyone of us have experienced that drowning sensation as things start spiraling downward.

We all know.

So even though we’re all still ultimately responsible for our own team of patients, during the rough times, we help each other. And there’s just no feeling like knowing that, no matter what’s going on inside this room, your team has your back outside that door.

We’re more than a team, actually. We’re a family – intentionally brought together by God for a very distinct purpose.

To help heal the sick, yes. But to also use our own very unique gifts to help lift the burden of weight on each other’s shoulders. To just offer each other a little wink of peace in the midst of all that chaos. It’s so beautiful.

I’ve personally felt the comfort of this multiple times as I’ve experienced many of these belly-laugh days myself – one just this very week.

And, honestly, I’m still feeling wrapped in that comfort today as I sit here and share all this with you. I can actually see all the beautiful faces of my colleagues (both past and present) who have stepped up to help me through those many stressful, (and not funny at all) belly-laugh days. You should all consider yourselves thoroughly hugged right now, by the way.

I couldn’t have done even a minute of these last six years without you.

So yes … while autonomy certainly may have its charms, it’s the teamwork of nursing that is truly, truly beautiful. And I’m just so very thankful.

Thanks for growing with me. ❤

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  (Galatians 6:2)

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