I have alot of anxiety. I am what may be described as “tightly-wound” or “over-wrought” (my mother likes to say “driven,” because she’s nice and, well, she’s my mother). The things in my life that cause me the most anxiety, that keep me awake at night and distracted during the day, are being an ER nurse and running. Yes. I admit it. My greatest stressors are my job and my hobby. Not my marriage. Not my five kids under nine. Not my cracker-jack-box house with two bedrooms and one bath and zero privacy for a mother who would just like to poop in peace for once already!…but I digress. So, I thought perhaps that writing about these sources of both exquisite pain and singular satisfaction might help put that annoying anxious voice to sleep. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the voice that torments the leave-me-alone-I’m-still-sleeping-off-last-night’s-martinis-and-have-thus-far-successfully-pretended-to-not-hear-the-kids-asking-to-come-out-of-their-room Marie, and makes her get up at 5:15 AM to look up the relative merits of Milrinone vs Dobutamine, or google “epidydimitis,” or why racemic epi is better than Duonebs, or why, why? WHY???? (I am not the only nurse I know who does this type of thing. A friend of mine who works in the ICU was recently up before the sun reading about barotrauma. See? It’s practically an epidemic, this anxiety thing.)
So I’m hoping that this blog will put angsty Marie to sleep. She may end up a bit dumber for the effort, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.
On that note, I am currently enjoying a few days off after having worked for 7 out of the last 8 days. By day four I was tired and felt like I spent most of the shift five steps behind. By day 6 I was in full zombie mode – wake up, eat, work, run, sleep. Repeat. But I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Shift 7 was only a “quick” six hours of overtime. I can do anything for six hours, right? And I’m making time-and-a-half, so that makes it worth the exhaustion, right? Mmm. You would think so, but no. To be precise, it sucked. It sucked big time. Alright, I’m gonna go ahead and say it because this is my blog, after all, and if you don’t like my language, that’s okay. We can still be friends. You’ll miss out on my witty sense of humor and sparkling intellect, but I’ll see you on Facebook. So here it is: my last shift sucked big donkey balls. Whew. Glad that’s out there. Now, onward!
So my patient was irritated. She was hungry. She wanted a meal tray. She wanted it yesterday. In my most professional voice I explained to her that blah, blah, blah, hospital speak, blah, blah, all we have are turkey sandwiches. What is on them? she asked. Um, bread and turkey. Oh, and a little packet of mayo (we’re so thoughtful!). What type of bread is it? she asked. Um, white. Like my knuckles. And here’s where it gets really good: “White bread? You don’t have whole wheat?? Some dietitian you are!!” (I think she may have even added a little “Hmpph” sound and crossed her arms, but I don’t want to make her seem rude or unreasonable.)
It is at this point that I realize what an amazing organ the human brain is. Because in my mind are three different responses, which – within seconds – my frontal lobe has shuffled through and selected from. Here they are:
Response 1: I use my best therapeutic communication skills and patiently explain that, here in the EMERGENCY ROOM at 2 AM, we are limited on our food offerings. We do try to provide our patients with nutritious, protein-rich items that can satisfy their hunger in the short time that we care for them before they are either discharged or admitted.
Response 2: I put my hand on my hip, cock my head to the side, and say, “I know, right???? Isn’t it CRAAAZZZYY that we don’t have whole wheat bread? And I’ve been after these sons-of-bitches for YEARS to start serving organic Greek yogurt and muesli, but to no avail! And I’m SO glad that you correctly identified me as a dietitian, and are cognizant of the fact that the giant RN on my badge stands for “regular” and “non-fat” and not Registered Nurse. I absolutely cannot stand it when people mistake me for one of those bitches.”
Response 3: I lean in real close, and in my most creepy Kathy-Bates-as-the-psycho-fan-who-smashes-that-author’s-legs-in-that-movie-Misery voice say: “If you were the absolute last patient on earth, and I were the absolute last nurse on earth, and you were bleeding from every orifice AND on fire, I MIGHT give you that sandwich. But it would still be just turkey. And it would still be on effing white bread.” Then I sweetly smile, pat her hand, and quietly shut the door.
Well, thank goodness that my frontal lobe elected to go with Response #1. Yes, I said all that crap. Yes, I felt horrid and dirty and as if the only thing left for me in this world was to be thoroughly scrubbed down with a mixture of Listerine and Borax. But, I’m sure that at the moment I said it, somewhere in this great land of ours some hospital administrator’s stony heart felt a brief surge of warmth. So, it was totally worth it. And, I WAS getting overtime pay.