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The Perfect Shift

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

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 251,892 Profile Views; 9,785 Posts

As tough as nursing can be, especially in the Med/Surg arena where we deal with some of the most challenging patients and situations imaginable, there is the occasional shift that reminds us of why we became nurses in the first place:

Yesterday was just such a shift. Coming on at 3 PM as usual, I was met by the day shift RN who told me, "You'll have a MUCH better day than yesterday".....which was great news, because the previous day hadn't been all that difficult, just busy.

Then I had my annual performance review, which was positively glowing.....yes, I've worked hard, but I didn't necessarily think anyone had noticed. I was wrong. Not one negative word was said about me by my peers, and management sees me as a "positive leader on the floor" with a "can-do" attitude. They want me as a preceptor/trainer, and they also want me to start giving in-services. Now, I knew the evaluation would be a good one, but I've never had one THAT good before, so I was pretty much walking on air as I started my rounds.

My five patients were stable, pleasant, and doing much better than they'd been the previous day, some of which was due to my good care (or so they told me :) ). I was busy, but not so busy that I couldn't help my co-worker who was drowning with her three patients and a new admit; I was also able to get an IV started on a patient who'd had all the ICU nurses poke her a couple of times each. This patient and I immediately became friends, and we chatted and joked and shared stories about our similarly-aged kids and home situations once we got her pain and nausea under control.

The capper, however, was the 80-something patient who'd been admitted from a local nursing home for pneumonia and woke up around 10 PM utterly confused and terrified.......she had no idea where she was, and she was coughing so much that her poor little chest must've felt like raw hamburger. On top of it all, she was legally blind, dehydrated, and she sobbed while her eyes burned from the dryness. She wasn't my patient, but when her light went off I'd checked on her and found her in a near-panic state. Luckily, all my patients were stable and sleeping, and I was able to sit with this lady and hold her hand while her nurse scampered around getting the things I asked for: a heated blanket for her chest, some warm broth, and some pain medication.

I must've sat there for half an hour, stroking her hand, talking with her, and then listening to her........turns out she used to be an LPN many years ago, but was fired when she started having seizures. As we talked, we started to laugh over some of the things we'd seen and done as nurses, and what was really special was watching that fearful little face glow into beauty and serenity as she drank the soothing broth and the deep, painful coughing spell ended. All this time she was holding onto my hand as though it were a lifeline, and by the time the pain meds kicked in, she was so calm that when I told her I needed to get back to my patients, she was able to let go.......but not before she'd kissed my hand and thanked me for being there with her.

I floated out of that room on Cloud Nine.......and when I got back to the nurses' station, I said to the assembled group: "Now THAT'S why I do what I do". There was a new grad there, and her eyes lit up as I told her about what had just happened.........I wanted her to know that these are the moments that make a career, the ones we remember long after they have passed, the ones we live on for weeks and months when we have a long stretch of those incredibly insane days when nothing goes right and it seems that all we get for our efforts is complaints from patients and nasty-grams from management.

Yes, that's why I love what I do, and why, long after I'm too old and used up to run the floors anymore, I will treasure the moments I've collected like colorful seashells, each one unique and beautiful in its own way.

Have a great day, everyone!

:)

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2,404 Posts; 18,155 Profile Views

How lovely MJ, thank you for sharing yesterdays events with us!

;)

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3 Posts; 576 Profile Views

Moments like that are exactly why I'm changing careers at 33yrs. old and married with three kids. I have received my CNA and just got a job in a private pay center. I start school in one month. It will be tough but worth every sleepless study night.:)

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212 Posts; 3,675 Profile Views

What an incredible story. I love to hear those stories as we hear so much neg that we need to rememeber that there are good days too. I thought of a few of my "special memories" that I had tucked away in my mind as I read about yours. Thanks for sharing, you made my day a better one too!! :)

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559 Posts; 8,356 Profile Views

Keep the feeling with every patient you have. Caring, that's what we all need.

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jnette has 10 years experience as a ASN, EMT-I and specializes in Hemodialysis, Home Health.

4,388 Posts; 26,173 Profile Views

Ah, Marla.... do you also give good goosebump rubdowns? ;)

That was such a beautiful read. Yes, patients such as these are the gems buried in the sand. And we find them only if we go looking for them.

And days/nights such as the one you just described are certainly a balm to the soul. Suddenly all those other aggravations seem to just dissipate... float off into netherland.

GOOD FOR YOU !!!!!! :balloons: :balloons: :balloons:

A much needed, greatly longed for, and well deserved shift for you, indeed !!! :kiss

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23 Posts; 1,301 Profile Views

What a touching story. As a new grad myself, I am looking forward to moments like this.

Thank you for sharing your story. :)

Chantelle

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444 Posts; 4,435 Profile Views

That was wonderful. It made me sort of teary (in a good way though). I can't wait to be a nurse! Thanks for sharing.:balloons:

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vickynurse specializes in critical care, management, med surg, edu.

175 Posts; 3,885 Profile Views

Sounds like a perfect day to me. You must be a real gem!

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

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 9,785 Posts; 251,892 Profile Views

Thanks, guys. I hope those of you who are students will pay more attention to the nurses who are positive and who genuinely enjoy their jobs, because there is soooo much negativity out there and it's really sad to see nurses become jaded and hard-edged. Yes, people do abuse the health care system, and yes, the work seems to get harder every year; in fact, I myself will have to work hard to remember the good days when I'm in the middle of a bunch of really BAD shifts (ever notice how you always seem to get three or four ugly ones right in a row??). :) But there are many wondrous moments to be had.....and honestly, how many other careers out there offer so many opportunities to make such a difference in other peoples' lives?

:)

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Tweety has 28 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

4 Followers; 29,036 Posts; 49,685 Profile Views

Awesome! Woot! :)

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11,191 Posts; 54,552 Profile Views

marla, you have what it takes and you know how to use it. great job. ;)

leslie

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