Shattered isn't the half of it. I've been assured having 3 long days (shift from 0700-1930) all in one go isn't usual - but this was also my 4 day week so I was literally a walking zombie by the time I opened my front door and collapsed on the sofa last night.
It's a really strange feeling doing 3 long days together, working with the same 11 patients (they put me at the "heavy end" at the bottom of the ward for all 3 shifts, and there next to no discharges / admissions so it was pretty much the same people). It's like you live parallel to your patients. As they're waking up, you're waking up to go into work to see them. You then spend all day together. As they go to bed, we're heading out of work to go home to bed ourselves. It's really surreal, I can't explain it very well but it's like my life was totally centered around these patients when you do 3 days together.
These shifts should have been the one's that made me want to kill myself. The first two days I was working with a constantly stressed, overly hyperactive staff nurse who had a habit of turning military when it came to barking orders at you. She's funny, but she can be a bit OCD. I did begin to feel suicidal by the end of the second shift, we had 5 men that each needed special-ing and a very demanding womens bay. But you know what? It was fine because I had great coworkers. They were a massive help, and made me laugh in hysterics more than once which is exactly what you need.
On my last shift, I walked into that staff room and sat next to Elisa.
"My 3rd long day. In 3 days. I am ready to drop!" I told her.
"Oh you poor thing, you must feel crap!" She said.
"So crap I could cry," I replied. She laughed, and then I did cry. Not like sobbed, but a tears literally trickled down my face. Staff Nurse Charlie (this woman - absolute GOD. Love love love working with her, there's not a minute in the day she can't make you laugh - she even begun handover by telling a comical story where she thought she was going to die because she'd left a tampon in, couldn't feel it, and had lost the string to pull it out so had to get her boyfriend to remove it...I ended up crying for the second time that morning in hysterics) asked if I was OK. "Oh me? Fine. Absolutely fine, just exhausted to the point where I could cry at anything and everything..." I replied. She took pity on me and made sure I wasn't special-ing that morning. Winner.
And it was because of her, and newly qualified staff nurse and the other HCA's and basically the whole team that I got through that shift. I was exhausted, but I went home with a smile on my face. I didn't mind that the bus took an hour to come. Or that I hadn't eaten all day. I had just had a hilarious shift.
When your in for 3 days, and you spend every literal hour with people, you begin to know patients really well. Tina - who I've nicknamed, "The Iron Lady," not because she bares any resemblance to Thatcher but because she could just as well have been made of iron to get through some of the tragedy's she's gone through, had a little weep. She was telling me about some of the horrific ordeals she's had to put up with, and then she started sobbing. I pulled her close to my chest, whipped that curtain round and she wept for ages. I stayed 20 minutes extra that shift to sit with her. God bless that woman.
Then the next day Jenni burst into tears on me. I was filling out her chart, and we were chatting about the nursing home she was due to go into, and she burst into tears saying, "I just don't want to go on. I'm 87, I've had a great life thank you, and I'm all done!"Another curtain whipped around as I held her shoulders and talked. Turns out, there's basically a lot of anxiety about the new home and how she'll get on. But what am I, 18 years of age, basically a child in her eyes, meant to say to someone who says they don't want to live any more? I tried my best, but god, I was lost for words. She thanked me for talking to her, and held my hand for like 10 minutes. She'll be OK. She survived a war for crying out loud.
It's also always great to get some nice feedback. Whether it's a staff nurse saying your good at what you do, or being impressed with the lengths you go to for someone, or whether it was Bed 28's relative stopping you in the corridor to tell you that you're doing a great job = best thing ever.
So to summarise: should have been the worst week of my life. Actually ended up being one of the best. Next week? 36 hours. 3 shifts. 3 nights.
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