A Day In The Life

I’m an RN.

Yesterday was a busy day. I was pretty tired when I got home. My back hurt. I probably fell asleep thirty seconds after my head hit the pillow. In my previous career I was a software engineer. I thought I had busy days back then. Yes, I had some long days but mostly it was staying late to figure something out or catching up on emails. I’d be tired when I got home and declare, “whew, we need a vacation. It’s time to decompress”. Looking back, I was tired because I’d sat in a chair without moving for eight hours. I’d eat crap food and drink gallons of coffee. By the end of the day I’d have a headache from staring at the screen. I was tired, but not from “work”. I really had no idea what it felt like to be truly tired.

Yesterday I got to the hospital at 6:30 AM. Found out they were floating me to another floor. This makes everything exponentially more difficult. You don’t know who the doctors are, what their expectations are for wound care, etc… You can’t find the supplies you need. You don’t know what the access codes are to the various secure areas you need to get to. Basically, you need to ask someone for help for simple things all day long.

I transfused blood. Started IV’s. Removed IV’s. Changed dressings. I discharged three patients and admitted three more. I infused IVIG. Each of the transfusions requires staying in the patient’s room and monitoring vital signs every five minutes for 20 minutes, then every 30 minutes for the multiple hours it takes to finish. I did at least ten physical assessments. I lifted old people onto bedside commodes. I rolled, pulled, wiped, cleaned, changed sheets, and generally manhandled a 300-pound bed-bound patient who shit the bed. I argued on the phone with the pharmacy about medication timing. I struggled to coordinate how to admit a direct-admit patient with the doctor, the admitting office, and a unit clerk. I got yelled at by a drunk patient who was tired of waiting for his x-ray. When he got back from x-ray, he promptly shit all over the floor from the oral barium they gave him. I was told by a nasty old man that I was pretty useless and clearly didn’t know what I was doing. He had a critical hematocrit level and I had to sit in the room and convince him that yes, taking his blood pressure every five minutes was actually important. I sprinted down the hall every time a confused old lady set off her bed alarm to go look for her cat. I ran from one end of the hospital to the other to catch an Uber driver who was waiting for a patient and pleaded with him to just wait fifteen more minutes while we got the patient dressed. I had to sneak a patient’s anti-seizure medication into pudding and convince him to take it. Phone calls. And more phone calls. Charting. Paperwork. More charting. More paperwork because I forgot to add the year to a date on a form I sent to the blood bank. Written hand-off reports. Verbal hand-off reports to four different nurses.

After my shift was over, I spent another thirty minutes to finish charting things that I didn’t have time for during the day. I did not take a lunch. I left the hospital at 8:20 PM. In my previous life I thought I worked hard. I thought I was tired after a workday. I had no idea.

I’m an RN.

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