This is one of my "stories". Thanks for reading....
The Big Move
"What a beautiful morning. It's going to be such a great spring day. Too bad I have to sleep all day." This was what I was thinking as I was leaving the hospital after working a 12 hour night shift. Just walking to my car, the Earthy smell of green growing things made me feel like I was on top of the world. In reality, I had just finished a shift from the utter and total depths of Hell. The kind of a shift they just don't teach you about in nursing school
. I was new at being a nurse and just wasn't ready to see death in all of it's horrifying glory. One of my patients showed me one good example that very night.
Let me start off by saying that things at this hospital hadn't been going well for a few years. The nurse manager was new and to my thinking didn't know her leadership style yet. "John, I need to talk to you." She says to me one morning with her glasses lying on the tip of her impossibly thin nose. "I've been getting reports from your coworkers that you don't seem to be happy here." "Really", I say, "well that may just be so. It's hard having 12 patients with an LPN on the night shift. Truthfully, I'm not happy here". "The staffing levels aren't going to change, I'm afraid. Your performance appraisals show the need for you to improve your attitude." She says. "I'll take that into consideration. Thank you." I walk off and decide that yes, indeed, things will need to change for me.
Later that week, I drag in to work at my usual 7 pm. I'm just exhausted from no sleep and doing chores all day. My eyes are glassy and have black lack-of-sleep bags under them. My assignment at work shows no mercy. It's like the powers that be are trying to make me miserable. At 11pm, I have to pick up 6 more patients when the evening shift goes home. I'm drawn to a room that is full of family members (six daughters I found out later) standing guard over their frail dying mother. She's getting numerous blood transfusions because she is having gastrointestinal bleeding that seems to just not want to stop. She's moving all over the bed. She moans, attempts to pull out her tubes that are trying to save her. She is incontinent of large amounts of malodorous bloody stool. I saw this going on and just knew this was going to be a busy room that night. And it was.
The daughters were understandably upset. Sometimes when this happens, it's the nurse that bears the brunt of their feelings of helplessness. We're supposed to be taught how to deal with it. For the life of me, I can't remember an instructor teaching me how to deal with such feelings of utter helplessness. "She's still bleeding, aren't you going to do anything about it?" "Why is she moaning so much?" "What are you going to do to make her more comfortable?" " Where is the doctor?" "Does she get more blood after this unit is done?" All of these questions are being thrown at me all at once all with a tone of complete desperation. I work the entire night trying to save this poor soul and trying to comfort the family. No matter how hard I tried, she died just before my shift was done.
I thought I had done the best I possibly could for this patient and her family. I concentrated so much on making her comfortable and reassuring the family that I forgot to chart a few things. The nurse manager was not happy with this and put me on probation. It was then and there that I decided that I would never again step foot into that hospital. And I haven't.
"I'm going to move to Portland and work at a different hospital." I told my parents. "Oh, you want to move all the way up there?" says my mother with a frown. You have to understand that my parents are country folks and the idea of living in the huge crime-ridden metropolis of Portland was just unacceptable to them. "I always wanted to move to a bigger city after I got my RN. I'll start with Portland and maybe then Seattle later". I say half-jokingly, knowing full well that Seattle was even more "too big for me" of a city for my parents. "Well, whatever you do, good luck." And off I went to the "big city".
I just upped and quit my job with little notice. Off I went to Portland and I didn't even have a job yet! I drove up I-205 during rush hour and was immediately introduced to that "big city traffic." It was bumper to bumper with what seemed like mile after mile of cars and trucks ahead of me and behind me. I was claustrophobic and nearly panicky from so many people just inching along the highway. Maybe it was a sign for the traffic to be bad because up ahead of me I saw a turnoff that lead to some apartments for rent. On a whim, I drove in and signed a year's lease! Within a mere two days I was totally moved into an apartment where I could see the buildings of downtown Portland from my patio. It was just amazing.
Finding work was not difficult. It seems nursing is a field that is always looking for someone new. Unfortunately, because I needed the money and get established, I took jobs that turned out to be very much not to my liking. I am happy to say I finally found a great position where I have been for the last six years. Just recently we got a new nurse manager. I'm getting the impression she is just now learning her management style. This sounds familiar, doesn't it? I'm no longer a "new nurse" and have been able to handle very difficult situations. Because of the risks I've taken, I'm going back to school and eventually I want to teach. When I teach, I'm going to try very hard to prepare students for situations that may seem helpless.