It’s been two years since my last post which has been a good thing in my mind. The past two years have been tame and boring hence the reason I haven’t posted. It’s only the stressful, I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out, give-me-a-hard-liquor-drink day that motivates me to write a post to release the monster inside of me. I’ve been mostly working 1-2 days a week while in graduate school. However, while out for summer break I’ve been picking up full time hours, just 3 days a week. My husband and I got into an argument about this, of which I won’t go into detail, but has inspired this post. Why do most nurses work only 3 days a week?
If you have ever thought nurses have it easy working three days a week, then you have never been a nurse. Imagine taking care of several human beings who at any minute could stop breathing, heart stop beating, throw a clot, have a stroke or pulmonary embolism. You are responsible for that life while piling on the many other duties that are put on nurses. You work 12.5 hours that can stretch to 13, 14, 15 hours depending on how crappy of a day it is and how behind your charting is. You pull and tug on 300+lbs patients every two hours to prevent pressure sores. At any point in the day you could be cleaning up urine, vomit, sputum, blood, stool and any and every combination of bodily fluids. You have patients and family who are angry because you don’t answer the call light every 10 minutes. They call your manager or administration because of your lack of promptness while you are caring for your most critical patient who you just intubated because they stopped breathing. Your hospital administration has you take on extra patients so they are not sitting in the ER. And by the end of the day guilt has set in that you couldn’t take care of everyone the way you should because you have too many patients and not enough nurses.
Some nurses can work overtime and some can even work seven days straight. But the majority of us end up severely burnt out. We work weekends, nights, holidays. We leave our families to take care of other families. I cry when family truly thank me for what I do because I rarely hear it and rarely feel like I am making a difference. Most days I feel like I’m just a body with a license for documentation. I’ve been hit at, kicked at, cursed at, yelled at, and even spit at. I worry about these confused patients falling out of bed. Not only because it would end up in a butt load of paperwork but because I care about them. I worry about critical patients. Then I come home and worry and pray for them. I’ve held the hand of dying patients, watched people take their last breath, and cried and grieved with families. I’ve had a dirty needle stick with worries of getting hep C or HIV. Some days I don’t get to eat or pee. And everyone is afraid to sign up to help and be that extra nurse that we desperately need because they pull those nurses to another floor.
Love your nurses. Hug them and thank them for what they do. If you are married to one, hold them when they get home (after they wash the germs off). Let them rest their bodies and process their emotions on days off. And have dinner waiting for them when they get home. 🙂
-the narcoleptic wife