There are many times in my life when I felt like I should drop what I was doing and just jump on a plane. Here are a few real, everyday stories of my life as a nurse that have made me stop and realize I need a Damn Vacation!
Share a time you realized you needed a DAMN VACATION in the comments!
1. I wake up five days a week at 5:30am and drink my coffee hoping I haven’t built a tolerance to it. I get to work and change into my scrubs that say “Medium“, but fit either too small or too large. My assignment says it’s going to be a busy day with a crabby surgeon who was on call last night and only got 3 hours of continuous sleep. He snaps at me throughout the day because I didn’t have that one “thing” he forgot to ask me to get.
The day continues and we fall behind. I go to check in the next patient for surgery and they are angry because they haven’t gotten to eat or drink since midnight and their surgery is two hours late. I apologize for the delay while I get sulky stares from the patient and family members. The surgeon walks in and is greeted with kind words and enthusiasm…. it was somewhere around this time that I realized I needed A DAMN VACATION.
2. The call bell goes off in Room 25 bed A. I walk in to see what the patient needs. She tells me she is about to vomit and shakes her hands in a motion that universally says, “hurry up and get me something to puke in.” I grab the bucket on her side table and dump out the soap and washcloths that were to be used later for her morning bed bath.
Now, I don’t know much about physics, but I do know her projectile vomit hit the bucket with such force and accurate aim that it sprung back in the direction of my chest. I have a strong stomach when it comes to pee, poop, and blood, but something about vomit makes me turn green. I drop the bucket and run to the bathroom without thinking about the dirty hospital bathroom floor and hug the toilet that many butts have caressed. As I continue to dry heave I can hear the nursing assistant has arrived when she yells out, “What the Hell is going on in here?” It was somewhere around this time that I realized I needed A DAMN VACATION!
3. During the snow storm of 2009, I was one of the few nurses that made it to the hospital. Unfortunately, they had my address and knew I didn’t live far, so I was told to come in and bring a few days worth of clothes and my tooth bush. For three days I worked for 16 hours straight each night and “slept” in one of the lumpy hard hospital beds (I was lucky, some nurses had to sleep on stretchers in the hallway).
I was fresh off orientation and was placed on the emergency night shift. There were only three of us that made it in for the night shift, cared for 9 patients each, 4 of which were hallucinating and placed in restraints since they were a harm to others and themselves. It was somewhere between being woken up and asked for pain meds by a patient wandering into the room I was sleeping in and being asked by one of the restrained patients to be his “sbowbunny” that I realized I needed A DAMN VACATION
4. One time (one time too many) I was replacing a diaper on a toddler who had rectal surgery. He was coming out of anesthesia and bared down. The bed was still raised from when the surgeons were working on on him and I was in the line of fire. It was like being sprayed with a shaken champagne bottle expect it was a little kid butt projecting diarrhea all over my chest. The room went silent until the resident surgeon busted out laughing at my expense. It was at this time that I realized I needed A DAMN VACATION and A SHOWER!
5. I was new to the operating room and learning the new instruments and equipment. We were doing an arthroscopic case that required multiple 3L bags of NaCl (Normal Saline). I was to hook up the machines and spike the NaCl bags with the tubing. I pushed the spike into the bag, but for some reason it felt loose. I tried to reposition it and the spike fell out. The saline flowed out like a broken dam and I couldn’t stop it. Everyone watched as I recieved a normal saline shower. It was like I was being baptized to the OR. Instead of moving or trying to unhook the bag to turn it upside down, I just stood there hiding under my hands and screaming until another nurse ran over and pinched the end and took the bag off the IV pole. To this day I still have no idea what I was thinking. All I know is at that moment I really needed to go on A DAMN VACATION!
6. When I was a floor nurse it wasn’t uncommon to inhale my lunch and get back to work. That was a lucky day. Often I was too busy to take a break to eat or even use the bathroom. We were short staffed and not a union hospital so our nurse to patient ratio was typically 1:6-8.
One day I did find a few minutes to eat my lunch that consisted of a cup of Jello and a hotpocket (I was always too exhausted to cook or prep food for the next day). My first year of nursing consisted of hotpockets, ramen, and who can resist those gummy snacks? As I took my first bite of my scolding hot lunch, my pager begins to sing out the most annoying chirp sound to ensure I wouldn’t miss it. The very large patient in Room 15 has an important question to ask me that just can’t wait. I put my pocket of meat down and head to his room. I ask, “Sir can I help you?” He responds, “yes! Can you check my bottom and let me know if I pooped?” As I spread his cheeks to see if he farted or sharted (when you think you just farted, but instead pooped a little), I thought to myself, I need A Damn Vacation!
7. One of my travel assignments was a to a level 1 trauma center. I signed on to work night shift for 13 weeks and would usually care for a gun shot or stabbed patient a night or every other night. One night a man had been shot multiple times and was rushed through the ER straight to the Operating Room.
One of the surgeons bringing him up to the OR gives us a quick report, “Multiple GSW, 7 entry sites through the chest and abdomen have been found, we need the emergency blood activated!” Simultaneously, the anesthesiologist incubated the patient while another nurse poured betaine cleaner all over the man’s chest and abdomen, and the surgeon’s scrubbed in to start their life saving surgery. I had grabbed a Foley kit to insert in order to drain his bladder and ensure there wasn’t any damage to his bladder. Immediately I realize something was very wrong when I stuck the flexible rubber tube into the tip of his penis and it came out the side of his penis. “Eight! I found another gun shot entrance… umm and exit.” The man had been shot through his penis. It was around this time when I thought… This man really really needs A DAMN VACATION.