Farewell to the Floor

As I prepare to transition to a different nursing setting, there are lots of things I will not miss about float nursing. I don’t need to detail those – I’m sure, after reading this blog, you can think of a few! I am really excited about starting in Employee Community Health next week and working with a new boss and coworkers.
 
 But there are things I will miss, like my favorite patients. 
 
 I know, I know – you shouldn’t have favorite patients. But sometimes, you just hit it off with them. Sometimes, taking care of a patient is a treat. Like “I’m getting paid to do this?!”
 
It doesn’t mean that you treat patients differently. All patients need to be assessed and cared for; they all deserve a parity of time and effort. But nurses are people and “click” better with some than others.
 
I had a patient like that the other night when I was on Ortho – the lovely and gracious Isabella. She had just had a bone in her arm removed due to cancer (her second cancer in 5 years – she has terrible luck!) but her dark eyes were as bright as if nothing had happened. Her English was inflected with an Italian lilt as she told me all about her family and her dogs. Indeed, her family when I met them were just as delightful. I told her all about my dogs and we discussed marriage and family. We could have been friends in another life…
 
To be honest, I very rarely have patients that I do not get along with or connect with in some way. Even if they have dementia or are extremely anxious, patients will often respond well to kindness and solicitude. When I do have interpersonal tensions, it is more often with family members, particularly if the family member is having trouble adjusting to some terrible and difficult truth. In that case, I can only be supportive, not critical. But spending an 8 hour shift with a favorite patient is a rare and wonderful thing.
 
I will also miss giving showers. I sometimes think showers are the best medicine. You see people go from sick, pale, sweaty patients with their hair sticking up  – to clean, warm, happy and well groomed people. Showers are transformative!
 
The strangest thing I will miss is emptying JP drains. I don’t know why, but those little grenade-like bulbs are fascinating.  Really, drains of all kinds are cool. I will  also miss hanging fluids – flicking the bubbles out – watching the fluids drip into the patient and make them feel better.
 
I will miss getting meds out of the Pyxis and punching them into med cups. (I will not miss occasionally dropping them on the floor, the dirty table, or the patient’s gown!)
 
I will miss navigating the twisting windowless corridors, the hidden staircases that I have just started to find, and the “back roads” of the hospital. I will miss walking through now-empty units that have been converted to offices.
 
I will miss the weekend potlatches that I occasisionally lucked into – cinnamon rolls and cakes and soups, oh my! And the chocolates that I occasionally enjoy when (usually recovered!) patients decide to treat the nurses. Whichever patients bought us Stam chocolates have my eternal gratitude. 
 
I will also miss my favorite parts of the hospital. For instance one unit has a beautiful Christian Lassen painting. I might have to go to that unit just to visit it!  Many have gorgeous flower arrangments. And of course several feature plaques with pithy sayings. I will close with one that was on my unit last night:
 
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”
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Of Squash and JP Drains

This evening we made a delicious butternut squash soup that our friend Lisa sent in a box – squash, spices, coconut milk and all. Tasty and fairly easy! The only hard part for me was preparing the squash by getting the seeds out. I hate trying to scoop the stringy gunk and tiny seeds out of the hard squash out with a spoon. It just feels yucky to me, fighting the squash to wrest out the slimy vegetable “entrails.”

I know, I know, it’s a vegetable. How bad can it be? But it IS! I remember my parents doing this to pumpkins in my childhood and I thought it was gross then too! Squash and pumpkin innards have this smell I associate with decay.

Once they’re cooked, I have no problem. Sweet, plush, carmelized squash. Soft as butter. Purees like a dream. But when they are hard with a slimy mess of stringy membranes and seeds… shudder.

You know what I don’t mind? JP drains. Little grenade-shaped shells of plastic connected by tubing to people’s insides, draining all kinds of fluids. Fine, I won’t describe exactly what they drain. But I don’t mind emptying those things. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

Hopefully people who turn pumpkin into pumpkin puree all day feel the same way about that as I feel about JP drains.

And this relates to Lent how, you ask? Well, I’d like to think it has to do wth “vocation” or calling. I am called to be a nurse, to care for people. To empty JP drains. Other people, presumably, are called to be squash de-seeders. (Or perhaps supervise the machines that de-seed squash). Others to be teachers, others to be pastors…

You get my drift. We all do things that other people find inconceivable because they are ours to do.