I worked midnights Med/Surg float for my first year as an RN (1979). I was a diploma grad from that hospital, so I already knew the various floors. Around 2 or 3 in the morning was my favorite time. That's when the patients who couldn't sleep just wanted to talk. Often, they were trying to get their arms around a new diagnosis, or their worsening health. I usually had time to sit with them.
This was back when people came in the night before surgery, and stayed 4 or 5 days after surgery. Open heart surgery was at least a 2 week stay. We had one patient in almost 6 weeks for IV antibiotics Q6hrs. The cardiac stepdown unit was for patients who needed to be on a heart monitor, or someone with "Chest pain, rule out MI". (OK, it's "AMI" now.)
Our cardiologists were just starting to do a brand new procedure, "Balloon Angioplasty". Before that, we kept patients with an MI on bedrest/bathroom privileges, kept them quiet, gave them oxygen, medicated with Nitropaste (measured out on its crinkly plastic that we stuck to their skin), and meds like Quinidine, Isuprel, Indural, and Lidocaine. Vitals Q4 hrs, IV at keep open.
Now, they go straight to the cath lab. With angioplasty, they can go home without any damage to the heart muscle!
Some things truly are better. 🙂