A Morning in the Life of a Nurse and a Doctor
A nurse's day ends as a doctor's day begins. A snapshot of a morning exchange outside of the workplace. Who are we beyond our hospital personas? Grant me a glimpse, a small peek, into your life as it relates to your work.
She comes home livid.
She's glaring at the garage door as it cr-cr-creaks its way open, revealing an old, beat-up Subaru parked happily in the one-car space where she was gonna cram her relatively new SUV into. The sight of the vehicle's dull, green paint brings unspeakable, almost unbearable relief. She realizes he is still home and that's the best news she could have gotten after the horrible night she's trying so damn hard to shake.
She ignores the cheerful dog who greets her at the door. Instead, she kicks off her shoes, scales the stairs two steps at a time, and barges into their shared bedroom. She finds him nestled in their blankets, barely stirring, and promptly drops to the floor by his side like some forlorn heroine in scrubs. She's too gross for the bed, but she'll be damned if she'll stay on her feet one second longer.
"Good morning," he mutters, and that's all it takes.
"What is wrong with you doctors!" Begins her rant, but she takes it down a notch almost right away with a guilty apology. "Not all of you, I'm sorry. Just--" And he struggles to crack an eye open, knowing that the apology meant she was about to unleash a hurricane of a vent meant for one of the members of his profession who she could not give a piece of her mind to during her shift. "Is it necessary to be such a horrible human being all the damn time?" she asks in a voice too loud and too shrill for 0745. "Is it my fault you just got a patient admitted under your service? Is this news to you? Why are you acting like I'm inconveniencing you for doing my job and helping me do yours? Do you think it's fun for me to watch your patient cough, and wheeze, and panic because she can't breathe? Do I sound like I'm calling you just because I enjoy your fun personality? Oh, god forbid I actually care for the comfort of my patient and the sanity of her family members! They're in the hospital in the middle of the night thirty-six hours before Christmas for a reason! It's not a happy time for them either, you know."
He hasn't gotten a word in yet. In fact, he's still rubbing the sleep from his eyes with one hand while the other reaches out to soothe the head of the nurse who, in her utter frustration, has now taken to hiding her face in the sheets. "You're talking about B., aren't you?" was the second sentence the doctor manages to form today.
Of course it's Dr. B. It's almost always Dr. B. He's heard nothing but horrible things about that doctor from nurses and fellow physicians alike, but what can you do? The man desperately needs a good talking to, but none of the hospitals in this city seems to have the guts to say anything to him yet.
"Ugh, he's so horrible!" she groans into the blanket. "I'm sorry, baby. Good morning. What time do you have to work today?" In twenty minutes, actually, but he ignores the question, knowing it is just an intermission in the full-length opera that is his nurse wife's need to vent.
She sits there for a while, letting off steam while he tries his damned hardest not to seem uninterested while getting ready for his own work day.
Their one-sided conversation even reaches the bathroom AND the shower.
"Next time, I am not waiting for a convenient time to call that -insert a train of expletives here-!" she promises. "Patient has a little itch at 3am, I'm paging him. He's gonna be unprofessional and demeaning anyway, so why should I care if he has to wake up!"
He actually laughs at that and gives her a hug (since she's finally washed and showered the hospital ickies away). "That's why I don't mess with the nurses. You guys can really make or break a doctor."
And just like that, her rant ends. She sighs deeply, briefly buried in his arms, and realizes that the heavy feeling in her chest that almost resulted in a fender-bender in her own garage had dissipated.
This is what baffles him the most about the woman he had chosen to spend his life with. He does not understand how all that fury could suddenly be extinguished. It escapes his comprehension, but he takes advantage of it anyway. He leads her to bed and tucks her in. She's laughing now as she apologizes for the nth time for being ridiculous and waking him up the way she did. She then thanks him for some weird reason!
In her sudden exhaustion and his rush to get to work on time, they forget a lot of things. She manages a simple, "Have a good day today, doctor." before he's out the door.
She forgets to tell him that the gratitude is for honoring their agreement from many years ago: that she would be nice to doctors and he to nurses, in the hopes that, somewhere out there, a nurse will be good to him, and a doctor will be kind to her. They were only novices in their professions then, so young and naive. But while she slips occasionally in her frustration with the physicians around her, he continues to be good to the nurses he works with, and she loves him for that.
She forgets to explain that his little comment about nurses having the ability to make or break a doctor is the first acknowledgement she's received in months of her and her profession's ability to do anything, let alone affect someone else's life that drastically. But he empowered her with that innocent statement, pulling her straight out of her frustration, and he won't even realize it.
And, like an idiot, he forgets to tell her that he's driving to a thirty-six hour call and he won't be seeing her again till after her shift two days from now. He'll kick himself later for this little mistake, but, for now, the only thought occupying this hospitalist's head is a fervent, desperate hope that he won't get too many admits tonight.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 7, '14
Poll: Do you take work home with you, either literally or in the form of emotional stress?
Always in the form of stress.
Sometimes in the form of stress.
Sometimes, I have literal work to do when I get home.
I always have extra work to do when I get home.
I sometimes bring a little bit of both home.
I always bring both of those things home. =(
I am a Registered Nurse practicing in the Southeast United States. I still, and likely always will, identify myself as a bedside nurse.
From 'United States'; Joined Nov '13; Posts: 30; Likes: 68.Jan 6, '14 by FA2NSI CAN relate! I am a nurse and my boyfriend is a doctor. We live together and we often have THE same conversation! LOL! Very well written...Jan 8, '14 by Al.ginger, BSNmarried to a doctor. yes. He encourages me to go to medical school. Nooo. Love nursingJan 8, '14 by emarti19I am married to a doctor and can totally relate to this story. We both have similiar conversations about being nice to our fellow doctors and nurses. Even when they don't deserve to be treated nice. After being married for more than 5 years we both understand how hard our jobs are, and how when doctors and nurses work together the patient outcome is better.Jan 13, '14 by msn10Nice article and glad to see so many fellow nurses who are married to docs as well. I have been married for 17 years, we met over an (almost) dead body when he was a month out of medical school. When he gets a call at home, he knows I can hear him from the next room and I usually have a comment if I think he was too harsh. I think we balance each other out nicely. Obviously he has heard my perspective about doctors, but the flip side, I see how annoying we can be as well. We have respect for both professions which has always helped us in the long run.Jan 17, '14 by NightRN27This was nice to read. Its nice to know that the stresses of a nurse is universal. Although I am not married to a doctor I do have rough nights because of doctors and then I go home and rant, sometimes cry, to my husband. It feels good to know that I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes. Thank you.Jan 17, '14 by FA2NSI work taking care of my boyfriend's post op patients. He's an orthopedic surgeon and we live together. Before we started dating he was hell on wheels. I've heard horror stories! Nurses used to run when he came on the floor. He had awful nicknames the whole nine yards! Now, he is one of the most loved! I've also heard through the grapevine management has said they are thankful I came along and calmed him down! hahaha!!! Doctors can benefit from a change of perspective!