Thursday, February 21, 2008

Busy, Busier, Busiest


The ER was beyond crazed today: the staff was run ragged, and people in the waiting room were very cranky. It's peak cold/flu season, and we also had some desperately sick patients: someone who'd had a massive stroke and was on a vent, someone else who needed a central line and whose lung collapsed (both of those were critical-care admissions), a patient with dual tuberculosis and pneumonia, and lots and lots of seriously dehydrated babies and toddlers. I've learned that these are among nurses' least favorite patients: it's not at all easy to start an IV on a dehydrated kid, because their veins are hard to find, and the more often you stick them, the more they scream -- and nobody enjoys tormenting children even when it's medically necessary -- and the anxious parents are watching every move you make. And it can take a team of staff members to hold down a determined, indignant two year old.

So: busy shift. But for me, it was a good shift. The minute I walked into the department, one of my favorite nurses grabbed me, said, "I'm so glad you're here!" and sent me to talk to a relative of one of the critical-care admits. This person's courage in facing the situation moved and awed me. I spent time with a relative of the other critical-care admit, too. Lots of patients and families requested prayer, and nearly everybody, after I'd finished my standard prayer, told me it was "beautiful." One patient, when I gave him a warm blanket, went into such ecstasies of gratitude that I thought this must be the most fervant thanks he'd ever offered . . . but he managed even more fervant thanks when I gave him some tissues and, later, some ice chips.

In short, I felt both useful and appreciated, which was a great help in getting me over my snit with my father this morning, and in making me feel competent again after the Great Knitting Disasters of the last few days.

Oh, and I got a free t-shirt. And I've now volunteered over 600 hours. And I met one of our new social workers! Woo-hoo! Yay, social workers!

Now I'm off to Katharine's house, to see what she can do with the Great Knitting Disasters.

5 comments:

  1. Smoothing bit of chaos, huh? Susan, that sounds like a really great shift. I hope the knitting disasters were fixable.

    Btw...in reference to your earlier post. I heard about that earthquake, as it happened, while at the university and the good people in career services went to the trouble of finding out for me just where it was. So, I knew you were ok. When! But I'm sorry if anyone else was injured. It sounded like it might have hit parts of Idaho too.

    Hope!

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  2. Hi, Lee! Yes, the disasters were fixable, thank goodness! And I'm glad the folks in career services were so helpful!

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  3. I'm a relatively new reader and am really enjoying your blog.

    This post highlights for me how terribly invisible people can feel (an be) inside a medical system; and how very significant it is when you notice them, and offer some kindness (prayer, blanket,ice chips).

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  4. Thanks, Barbara! It's a pleasure to see you here; I appreciate your comment. And yes, invisibility is a big problem. (I hope to post on this within the next day or two.)

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  5. See, this is what we point to when folks look at us chaplains and say, "I don't know how you can do it, working all the time with situations so sad!"

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