So this is what it feels like to be on top of the world, huh? I like it! I like it a lot! Yes, this means I finally heard from the hospital back home in Oregon and it was better news than I hoped for. The nurse recruiter told me that three different nurse managers want to interview me for positions I applied for. I had wondered about the logistics of job hunting long distance and hoped I would be allowed to do a phone interview. Well, it turned out I got more than I hoped for. The hospital is paying for a plane ticket for me and hotel to fly me home for four days next month to interview me! Wow. I was floored. And I must say, it was great for my ego to know someone wants me to work for them badly enough that they’re willing to do this. It’s going to be great to see my sister and her family. And a few old friends. And go shopping at my favorite bookstore! I know it will be a quick trip, but the bookstore is only half a block away from the hospital. It’s going to be great just to get make a trip home, even if it is only a quick one. I’m really thankful for this opportunity and excited and just all around happy!
I’ve applied for three different nursing jobs now at the hospital home in Oregon. It’s been three full business days and I’ve yet to hear anything back from their nursing recruiter or human resources office. Ok, I know three days isn’t all that long. It’s entirely possible the person who needs to contact me is out of the office or busy with other work. They have over a hundred open positions when I search online at the hospital’s web site for open positions in the nursing category. This same hospital already hired me once, five years ago, on the spot. I was actually told I had the job at the end of the interview then. I left the hospital on good terms, eligible for rehire. So realistically, I know my chances of being hired again are good. But I’m not cocky or stupid enough to take that for granted. I’ve been praying lately that if I really am supposed to move home… if it’s really what He has planned for me… I will get a job. And I know it will be in His time, not mine. I’ve given it into God’s hands. But the problem is, I can’t stop worrying about it… I can’t seem to just leave it in God’s hands. Mom pointed out to me once a few years ago that if you ask a friend to drive you somewhere and they say yes, they will do it, you don’t keep calling them every five minutes to ask them again and again if they’re going to do it. Right? Well, when you give something to God, you shouldn’t keep asking Him over and over and over for that same thing. The analogy made perfect sense to me, and in theory I totally agree with her. It’s just the putting that concept into practice thing I’m having some trouble with. I suppose this is what I get for being impatient, yeah? :)
As some of you know, I’m actively making plans to move from Ohio back home to Oregon. Well, this evening I spent two hours updating, typing out, and polishing my resume. In general, making it as perfect as I can while still being honest. Anyway, after I finished that I applied online for two nursing positions at the hospital where I worked when I lived there before. I really liked this hospital, and am looking forward to going back. I very much want either one of these positions. Sure I would prefer one over the other, but I’d be happy with either. So what I want from you, my dear friends and family, is to wish me lots of luck! Cross your fingers, pray for me, send good vibes my way… whatever you’re comfortable with… ‘k? Thanks! And I’ll keep ya posted as I hear anything.
We are spoiled. And by “we” I mean Americans. I know that’s a gross over-generalization, and I know there are certainly exceptions to that statement. With that said, I do think that as a culture, as a group of people, we are pretty damn spoiled in comparison to some other cultures. There was a discussion about this at work just last night amongst myself and two other nurses I was working with. One of them had spent a considerable amount of time in Bolivia and I’ve spent some time in Guatemala. Granted, not a lot of time in Guatemala, but two trips each approximately two weeks in length. Enough time to begin to get a feel for the culture. We agreed that we both came back to the United States feeling very blessed and spoiled and no longer taking things for granted we had taken for granted before. Things like clean drinking water, enough money to put a roof over your head or afford basic transportation, things like that.
Two examples from my trips to Guatemala stand out in my mind to make my point. During the first trip I was speaking through an interpreter to an older woman and she was telling me that she had pain in her neck often (most likely from carrying heavy baskets on her head frequently) and approximately two years earlier there had been an American medical team there in town and they had given her some small white pills that really helped the pain. She was hoping this American medical team could give her some more. I found out that those little white pills she’d been waiting approximately two years for were ibuprofen. Yes, just ibuprofen. She didn’t have any money or transportation to the pharmacy to buy them. Even if she’d been able to get the pharmacy, she wouldn’t have had the money to buy them. Ibuprofen. Something most of us give no thought to picking up on a quick trip to the store while you’re out running errands. But to this woman, it was a big deal to get these pills.
On my second trip there was another example of things we take for granted. A boy and his grandparents traveled for two full days to get 100 miles from their home to where we were setting up a clinic and doing some surgeries because the boy needed an eye surgery. They spent most of the two days walking. That was the only way they could get to us. A 100 mile trip is not a big deal to most of us. A two hour trip, roughly. But to this family it was a real ordeal.
We really are a pretty spoiled culture. As are most citizens of “industrialized” countries. But we sometimes forget about millions of citizens of third world countries who fight for things we take for granted. There are so many things we see as necessities that they see only as luxuries.
I had to work last night… New Year’s Eve night. But it was actually fun! I didn’t mind being there at all. There were three staff members on the floor I was working on. Myself and two other women I always enjoy working with. Just before midnight we all three put on gaudy fun gold colored tiaras to wear in our hair and broke out the sparkling grape juice. We included a patient who was awake and another patient’s family member in the celebration and rang in the New Year in a most festive and fun manner. The patient who was awake and we were involving in the celebration asked each of us to come clink her plastic champagne glass… she wanted a real toast to the New Year. This woman later said to me “You look so cute with the tiara! But I bet you feel silly, huh?” All I could do, of course, was smile and reply “A little bit, yes.” But looking silly was worth the chuckles it got from other patients and even other staff when I wore it to the cafeteria for lunch later. Our patients got wonderful care last night… we were still taking our jobs very seriously. But we managed to make it a lot of fun, too.
Now, it seems common sense that no person is a punching bag… ever. Right? Well, we all know it does happen. What the general public may not know is just how often nurses are manhandled. And what little action is taken about.
In the past 10 years I have been kicked in the chin, bitten, punched, had my breasts grabbed, and had things thrown at me … all by patients. And each time it’s been a case of “Well, they’re confused, they don’t know what they’re doing.” So I’m expected to just take it. I’ve spoken with many other nurses and they’ve concurred that is always the attitude when they’re assaulted. (Yes, this kind of thing IS assault.) Not once have I spoken to a nurse who pressed charges against a patient for this or really in any way held them responsible for their actions. Virtually every nurse I’ve spoken to on this subject has said they would receive virtually no support from their hospital’s administration were they to do that.
Now, I’m not saying I think the 85 year old little woman who bit the hell out of my arm or the 75 year old man who kicked me in the chin should be arrested on assault charges and go to court and/or jail. I’m not saying that at all. But neither do I think I should be expected to sit back and just accept such behavior without any recourse. I don’t think any person should be expected to, yet nurses ARE. I don’t really know what the answer is to hold these people responsible for their actions. Or even just how much they should be held responsible when they truly are confused. I don’t believe confusion should excuse any violent behavior, but I do understand they’re not necessarily even aware of what they’re doing at the time. Neither is the person coming in for detox and coming off of coke or alcohol or meth. It’s a tough situation and I understand each side of it.
The closest I’ve ever come to charging someone at work with assault wasn’t a patient, but a physician. I had been going to answer a question for him and as I walked off to find the answer for some unknown reason he chose to grab my arm to stop me… hard enough that it left a bruise. I looked at his hand and then at his face and I have no idea what kind of expression I had on my face but he dropped his hand from my arm very, very quickly. (This particular physician had a reputation for being verbally abusive to the nursing staff, but had never done anything physical like that to me before.) I spoke to my nurse manager at length about it later that morning and she said she would support me should I choose to charge him with assault and agreed I would have every right to. I had the bruise on my arm and about 3 witnesses to this scene. Ultimately I chose not to, because I had to maintain a civil work relationship with him and he had realized he’d crossed a line. Maybe I wimped out and maybe I made the right decision… I ended up moving away a few months later and it didn’t matter any more.
I know we live in a violent world and voilent things happen … even close to home. But lately there have been some very sad, very violent things happening too close to home for comfort at work.
About a month ago a 22 year old girl was brought into the ER after a being shot. She died very soon after arriving there. Her injuries were so severe there wasn’t much the ER staff could do. They did try very hard, though, to save her life. And afterwards her family got violent with ER staff and began assaulting them. A nurse was hit with a lamp, the family members were picking up other pieces of furniture and throwing them, and the family waiting room in the ER was trashed when the ruckus ended. The entire ER was locked down for almost two hours.
Last night I arrived at work to be told to hurry to get report on my team of patients because the nurse I was following had been hit by a patient and needed to be seen in the ER. Well, when I saw the nurse I saw right away it wasn’t just a slap she’d received. The entire left right side of her face was red and swollen and painful. One of the orthopedic doctors in town was on the floor seeing a patient and told her he thought her cheek bone may be fractured. The patient delivered quite a punch. The nurse went downstairs to the ER and I haven’t heard any more yet about how she is doing.
And then last night later in the shift I heard that one of the staff members of the hospital who I work with once in a while and think is just a really sweet woman was shot in the head by her 19 year old son a few days ago. At this point it’s unclear if she will survive. She is being kept chemically sedated and on a ventilator and was going to surgery today to have one of her eyes removed that the doctors weren’t able to save. I don’t know the details of the shooting, but the story is that it was intentional. Just a sad, sad situation.
I read an article recently that discussed the fact that the U.S. is now number 42 on the world ratings list for life expectancy. The big reasons believed to be behind this are the number of Americans who are obese and lead sedentary lifestyles. As a nurse, I have another idea of what’s behind this.
I think that the medical community, doctors and nurses, are doing a better job of educating our patients about quality of life issues. We’re helping patients and their families look at what kind of quality they would have as opposed to just blindly focusing on prolonging their lives and forget what the quality of that life may be like.
That isn’t meant to sound cold and heartless. It’s just a fact that there sometimes comes a time when it’s time to look at what the treatments we’re putting the patients through are costing them. Take for instance, chemotherapy. Being an oncology nurse, this is an example I see frequently. Take, for example, an older patient who has been fighting cancer for years and their body is frail and tired. They’re tired of fighting, both physically and emotionally. The side effects of the treatment for their cancer is making them miserable and unable to function and do anything they want to. There comes a time to discuss with them the option of stopping treatment and making them comfortable, allowing them some better quality time when we know that their time is limited. We can offer some pain free time without the miserable side effects of the chemo.
That’s not to say we ever suggest to a patient that they give up. It’s only when it’s really obvious that the treatment is only prolonging death and not going to offer a cure and equally obvious that the cost of that treatment is outweighing the benefit of it that we would discuss stopping aggressive treatment as an option.
I think it’s getting more common to discuss quality of life as a concept than in previous years. And that may lead to some patients dying just a bit sooner than they might otherwise with more aggressive treatment. So this could be skewing the life expectancy figures a bit. Or I could be wrong and the the difference could be so short as to not effect life expectancy figures at all. It’s just a thought.
I noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted an entry here and was wondering what I could talk about. My personal life isn’t all that interesting or exciting at the moment. I’m not very politically active. So I guess that leaves work.
Work is actually the one area of my life where I always feel competent and confident if the rest of my life feels out of control and chaotic. I can feel in control as I’m going about my shift taking care of patients and doing things for them I have done a thousand times before. I’m doing things I know I know how to do … and for the most part, do well.
I really like my job, too. One night recently I had a shift to rival no other. It was crazy-busy. No major problems, just a lot of small things all night long. There were 5 of us working that night and we got off work at 7:30 am. Not one of us left before 8 am because we all had so much left to do after the shift was over and we reported off to the day shift staff. Even in the middle of that busy, hectic, crazy night I couldn’t imagine any other career I would want. I’m in the exact career I’m supposed to be in. Even after nine years I am more sure of that than ever.
After that insanely busy night I was lucky enough to have two pretty calm shifts in a row with a great group of patients both nights. One of my patients one of those nights was a retired paramedic/firefighter. He was telling me some wonderful stories of things he’d seen and done during his career. Things most people wouldn’t really want to hear about … but I was loving the stories. And he was enjoying sharing them. It was really nice to have time to just talk with my patients and learn more about them personally as opposed to just their body parts.
I found an interesting benefit to being a nurse about a month ago. I was at work and about ready to end my shift that morning. I was planning on calling my doctor’s office later that afternoon to discuss the results of a radiology test he’d ordered for me. I had seen the results myself but needed to call him to discuss the next best step regarding those results. But he happened to show up on the floor where I was working to see a patient of his, doing his rounds before office hours. So as he was sitting at the desk perusing this patient’s chart, I asked if I could speak with him for a moment when he was finished. He looked up and saw who it was and said “Oh, hey Brooke. Sure, sit down, I have time.”
So we talked. He pulled up the radiology test results in the computer and we went over them together and discussed some options and agreed on his final recommendation. The talk took less than 10 minutes and saved me a phone call to his office and the time to wait for a return call and he said it saved him the time of getting the message and returning my call so he was pleased, as well. I also didn’t have to go to his office to see the test results or discuss them. It saved both of us a phone call and time and money, so it really did work out well.