Monday, March 17, 2008

24 Things (Vol. 5)

Abe & Ande & Ty,

As preface, this list of 4 is all about my job, since I’ve spent the most time actively learning about it this year.

17. Twelve hour shifts mess with the mind. Suddenly, it believes that cafeteria food is delicious. Working 5 days a week is one step above indentured servitude and two steps above slavery (madness to only have 2 days off). Down-time is as illusive as mermaids, substantial tax returns, albino elephants and the yeti. Thing learned… when you work, you work long and hard. You eat a lot of soup and potato pearls. You pray each night you won’t spend the whole night dreaming about work.

18. This year I’ve learned how to phrase all statements as questions. Examples: “Dr. _____, don’t you agree Mr. _____ should be getting this dose of Cardizem?” or “Dr. ______, why don’t we first order a chest x-ray for Ms. ______ to assure her chest tubes are even positional?” A question is a magical thing. It presents an idea gently. It provides a compromise for a large ego. It encourages a person to think in a different direction. It prepares you for answering correctly on Jeopardy. On a side note, 90% of my patients all watch the same shows on TV. Every 7:30 pm everyone watches Jeopardy. USA will continue to have great ratings as long as they still show the Walker, Texas Ranger reruns. Most of my incarcerated patients watch either ultimate fighting or movies like Ever After, Sleepless in Seattle or Big. What people watch on TV… fascinating. Thing learned, Alex Trebek is in a position to be the ultimate manipulator.

19. Sometimes when CPR is done on a patient, ribs are cracked. People that've always wondered if they have it in them to throw a good, hard punch; people that also secretly wondered if maybe they could be a Million Dollar Baby are abruptly made aware of a simple fact. Muscle size is not always indicative of strength. Those same people then have to go find that patient a few days later and apologize for the cracked ribs. Though they feel sick their epiphany on the subject of strength came at that awkward time, these people still smile a little wider when they consider that maybe this will be the year they defeat their brothers in arm wrestling. Thing learned, sometimes Helena puts it best “and though she be but little, she is fierce.”*

20. My job has transformed my mind into a pendulum. I alternate between seeing a person as a human being versus a scientific collection of systems that are incredibly volatile. This is especially the case during a Code. In the beginning they are a person, then suddenly they swing over into systems; systems that need epinephrine, atropine, dopamine, an ambu bag and fluids. In the middle of “system calculations” I notice a ring on a finger, see painted toenails or feel a bounding pulse, and then just as suddenly this is a person again. One minute, a collection of systems that quit working together, and then a person for whom you are removing IVs and changing the linens, so the family can view them and say their goodbyes. Thing learned, every day I feel increasingly in awe of my career choice.

* Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Sara said...

Cal!! i cant believe i didn't know you had a blog this whole time, i thought it was only your mom that had one so i never got on! What is your life? I would love to get together with you soon. Think how long it has been since we've been together. maybe we should plan a trip to vancover or somewhere up in canada! i could come pick you up on my way up... I miss you so much! we had so much fun together. i love reading your blog. its funny.
love, sara

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Cali, I learn so much from reading your list of "24 Things"...I feel like I know 20 new things now and can't wait for the next four--it's like an on-line "Bathroom Reader Book." I especially thought number 20 was poignant, you express your thoughts so well and it was interesting to read about what you experience. Thanks for taking the time to write all of these things down because I sure enjoy them.

HeatherM said...

Cali-I love this post. You have chosen a noble career, and even not knowing you well, I can see it fits you to a "T". Keep up the good work - I hope you never lose the "human" amongst the "systems", it will continue to make you the greatest of nurses. Thanks for sharing!

Laurie Bingham said...

I love it. Did you get my message? I called you the other day. I have a great story to tell you...(you might just die laughing)

mdr said...

So well put. Being a nurse also, I can totally understand what you are experiencing and the joy of being in such a noble profession - though at times we wonder what made us make such choices but in the end we no longer have questions!

laska said...

cali - I am sorry that I didn't stay to chat at church. my family was having an early dinner and I needed to get back to richland. I hope that we can talk soon though!