Jump to content

More Reasons NOT To Take a Vacation---The Sequel

Nurses Article   (7,642 Views 11 Replies 1,002 Words)

VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 249,560 Profile Views; 9,713 Posts

Mayhem ensues as the world's most indispensable nurse (me) returns from ten marvelous days off to find that somebody left the inmates in charge of the asylum.

More Reasons NOT To Take a Vacation---The Sequel

If you've ever seen the movie "The Mask of Zorro", you may remember a character called Three-Fingered Jack, who's in cahoots with a pair of petty thieves to enrich himself by turning them in to the law and collecting the bounty on them, then busting 'em out of jail and going off to the next town (and the next scam). "I am the holy guts of this gang," he shouts happily in one scene as he clutches cash to his bosom on the way out of one little burg. "Without me, the whole dang opera falls apart!"

That pretty much sums up the way I felt upon my return to work Monday morning, after a delicious ten days off. I knew it would happen, but still, the shock was there as I surveyed the damage: squabbles between staff members which had disrupted two shifts. Money borrowed between employees and not paid back. Grumpy residents who'd run out of their antidepressants. Two residents in the hospital, one due to a CVA and the other a formerly independent woman whose legs evidently decided to give up the ghost and not support her any longer. One death under surprising circumstances. And three move-ins who hadn't been assessed yet, one of whom is a brittle diabetic with leg ulcers that went untreated for over a WEEK because my staff couldn't get their heads out of their hindquarters long enough to ask her doctor for wound care orders.

On top of that, we had caregivers defying dietary orders and giving our 94-year-old with a severe esophageal stricture regular-textured foods, and no fewer than twelve---TWELVE---residents were diagnosed with new urinary-tract infections. I've been asking staff for months to get rid of their long artificial nails........and now not only did the usual suspects have them on, even some of the older girls were wearing them. Of course, artificial nails are one of the biggest witches' brew of infectious material around. Can anyone else say, "The inmates are now running the asylum"?

And people wonder why I never take vacations......

Look, I'm under no illusions about being indispensable (no matter what I said in the article summary). My facility was looking for a nurse when I arrived on the scene, and managed the day-to-day operations for over two months with NO nurse at all; it's not like they can't possibly live without me. They just don't seem to do a very good job of it.

Employee: "Marla, what's that lump in Thelma's armpit?"

Me: "What lump?" (I'd been in the building approximately two minutes.) "Which armpit? Who found it? When?"

Employee: "I dunno, the shower aide said last week that she had a big lump under her arm."

Me: "Hmmmm......I'd better take a look at that." What I'm thinking is, Thelma has a loooooong history of lymphoma that's been in remission, this sounds very suspicious for a recurrence, and WHYTHEHELLDIDN'TSOMEBODYCALLHER DOCTOR?! I run up to the room for a quick assessment and find not only the lump in her axilla, but another one in her neck and two more in her other armpit. Family is notified and appointment made with oncologist.

Care manager: "Marla, I need you to help me whip the aides into shape. They've been fighting like a batch of kindergarteners over where they're assigned, who does what, who showers whom, and I'm about ready to make 'em take time-outs instead of smoke breaks!"

Me (silently snickering at mental pictures of staff lying on mats with thumbs in their mouths): "Hmglmph." I didn't realize I was a babysitter for a passel of twenty-to-sixty-year-old people who can't get along, but hey, whatever.

Executive director: "Hey, welcome back! Guess what, we've got five admits this week!"

Me: "Great!" (Uhhhh.....dude? I love ya, but I was a week behind the instant I walked in the door this morning, are you freakin' trying to KILL me?) Five new charts are sitting on my desk waiting for me, along with the usual stacks of incident reports to be investigated and orders to be reviewed. Really?? Like I'm the only person in this building who knows how to stuff a chart?

Dietary manager: "You probably should know that Aimee hasn't eaten anything off her trays in weeks."

Me: "Weeks!?" I can't imagine anyone starving themselves for that long without somebody noticing........something smells decidedly fishy here. I check her weight and compare it with the last one, and remind myself that these are caregivers, not CNAs or techs who are trained in observation and documentation. Another call to the MD, who advises keeping her on I & O and then faxing him with results in two weeks.

Administrative Assistant: "Marla, you have phone calls on line 1......and line 2......and line 3......."

Me (beginning to feel steam coming from my ears): "Hello---is there NO ONE in this entire facility who can handle random stupid phone calls while I get some real work done?"

Employee: "Marla, Debbie (other employee) keeps walking all over us and demanding a certain section every day, she yells at us on the walkie-talkies, she won't give showers, and she doesn't bring residents' food trays down to the kitchen. You need to do something about her."

Me: "And all of you need to understand that this is a workplace, not a playground." Images of pacifiers and baby blankets come, unbidden, into my mind's eye.

Employee (miffed): "Hey, maybe you should've taken a little more vacation........."

Fat chance. As I've discovered to my sorrow: without me, the whole dang opera really does fall apart, and with the vacation now squarely in my rear-view mirror, I'm not sure that the time off was worth the effort (to say nothing of the patience) it takes to put things back together!

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 249,560 Profile Views; 9,713 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

susanthomas1954 has 35 years experience and specializes in Assessment coordinator.

195 Posts; 4,203 Profile Views

And my husband always wants to know why I consider a 4 day week end a vacation..................

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics.

2,974 Posts; 29,199 Profile Views

So sorry, sounds like just what you expected...well maybe a little worse! The dreaded vacation recovery begins!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

259 Posts; 9,188 Profile Views

To be honest I thought this was going to be some written article written by upper management in a scheme to overwork staff nurses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 9,713 Posts; 249,560 Profile Views

To be honest I thought this was going to be some written article written by upper management in a scheme to overwork staff nurses.

Aw, heck no. :lol2: I wrote it while I was sitting in my executive chair, eating bonbons and cracking the whip while the CNAs did all the work. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Stars In My Eyes has 43 years experience and specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN.

1 Follower; 2,469 Posts; 43,931 Profile Views

Marla--Your 'operation' is so damn lucky that YOU are their "HOLY GUTS"......and you definitely need a RAISE! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

gryffnsgram has 26 years experience.

16 Posts; 1,624 Profile Views

The hallmark of a good manager is that things run smoothly whether you are present or not. Is that real life? NO!!! Does the person who said it need a smack in the back of the head? YES!!!

I feel your pain, VLV! I know that when I return I will have 275 emails, my voice mail will be full, and my snailmailbox will be overflowing - AH.......job security.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FranEMTnurse has 22 years experience as a CNA, LPN, EMT-I and specializes in LTC, CPR instructor, First aid instructor..

2 Articles; 3,619 Posts; 56,136 Profile Views

Yes Marla, it looks like you are indispensable where your work place is concerned. If only people had the work ethic they once had. I remember when I was a nurses aide I had very little time to sit other than when I ate my meal. Now I'm not targeting everyone, because I know some still do have a work ethic, but oh so many have lost it and have become just downright lazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

236 Posts; 10,017 Profile Views

Sounds like you could use a vacation haha!!

The point of those 10 days is rest and re-cooperation...but what it takes to get those days and what you come back to kinda cancels it out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 9,713 Posts; 249,560 Profile Views

Oh, it's not so bad.....of course I can say that NOW after two weeks of busting my butt to get caught up with three admissions, two change-of-condition assessments, ten days' worth of MD orders, delegation paperwork, and updates on the other 75 residents. :lol2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

noreenl specializes in school RN, CNA Instructor, M/S.

325 Posts; 8,519 Profile Views

Viva!! whens the next article coming out!!!!! Just kidding you got a bunch of 20+ coworkers out here that you need to help mget through the day as well in case you didn't have enough to worry about!!! Luv ya!!!!:lol2::redbeathe:heartbeat;):p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×