Nate and I took a quick trip to DC to visit some of his college friends. He hit up a Beer Fest and I tackled the Smithsonian Museums. I was able to gaze fondly at Julia Child’s kitchen an informative exhibit. LOVED IT! There were so many cool things to check out at the museums. All the museum walking had worked up an extreme appetite in my belly. Luckily there was a newly opened Shake Shack around the corner from the museum. It was packed to the gills. Stupidly I asked for my meal to be dine in instead of take out. There were no tables anywhere and I was a party of one. I was able to find a table without any seats but crafted a chair out of a window ledge and dug in. SO GOOD, I love that place. Later that afternoon I met up with Nate and his homeboys at a DC United soccer game. Nate and I like to drink but it’s never to the point of being crazy. I only get white girl wasted when I’m reliving my college days with Heather and her friends or when I’m in VT with my friends. Usually my hangover is so epic I swear off drinking for a day or two. I also don’t really want Nate to see me in my krunk state of mind. Imagine my surprise when I met up with Nate that afternoon. After drinking all afternoon I can honestly say I’ve never seen Nate so drunk and I was completely sober. I now understand how some of my friends must have felt while being DD’s on epic weekends while I was pickled with booze. It was a different experience. Next time we both need to be wasted. Regardless I had tons of fun. DC is a cool city to visit but I could never live there. Similar to the fun I’ve had in NYC. Good for visiting but not for living.
Life as a Nurse
All I can say is I haven’t killed anyone yet. Knock of wood that doesn’t happen anytime soon. I have just finished my orientation period and am flying solo on the floor. Our unit is unique in that there is a floor side and an ICU side of the unit. We are crossed trained to both sides. After spending a month of the floor side I was starting to think I had the hang of things and then they put me on the ICU side. DISASTER. Sure you only have 2 patients but they are critical patients that seem so much more fragile with accessories I was not used to. A-lines, ventilators, cardiac monitoring and we are responsible for all blood draws. YIKES! On top of all this there is a crap load of charting. It doesn’t sound hard to chart urine output every hour but when you’re giving meds, doing assessments Q4 hours, checking on restraints and other beeping machines it seems just about impossible. For the first week of ICU orientation I cried every night. I felt like I was all thumbs and there was so much I didn’t know. I thought I was going to kill someone. I called home and hearing Mom and Dad’s voice made it worse. I don’t think Dad could understand what I was saying over the sobbing. Luckily this period passed after a few weeks. I had a pow wow with my Nurse Manager and she assured me all of my concerns were completely normal and expected. Apparently I have the "Magical Gift" of self awareness. It feels more like a burden to me. She explained that there are many New Grads who are over confident or don't ask questions and those are the ones that are often making major mistakes. Me on the other hand am just asking questions non stop and refuse to do anything that I haven't attempted before unless I have a second set of eyes in case disaster strikes. If that's considered a gift, I guess I've got it. I still hate the ICU but at least I think I can cover the basics and call out for help when I am clueless as to what is going on. Thank goodness all my co-workers are so understanding and nice.
The Gory Bits
Katrina you may want to stop reading at this point, I have a way of painting a picture with words.
I have seen so many cool/gross things. Luckily I have yet to pass out or toss my cookies. There are so many things that MD’s do at the bedside that I didn’t realize until I saw it with my own eyes. I was able to sneak a peek at them insert a chest tube into someone, essentially it’s a flexible tube they poke in-between your ribs to suck out air/blood/pus and then add a couple of stitches to keep it in place. I also saw my first escharotomy. When pt.’s have circumferential burns (around their whole appendage) the body swells and the burnt skin doesn’t stretch and expand like healthy tissue. If the pressure isn’t released you will lose blood flow and eventually that limb. To relieve the pressure they take a cauterizing pen that will cut and burn the tiny capillaries to relieve the pressure. They’re just slicing people open. EWW and so cool. I also lended a hand in a new admit. The pt. had an extensive chemical burn to the entire body. When patients come into the unit they are taken to our hydrotherapy room nick named “The Tank Room” with shower nozzles in the ceiling and big metal beds. They get hosed off and scrubbed down with dial soap and dressed in whatever dressings are chosen before being taken to their room. It’s not unusual when scrubbing a pt down to have layers of the burnt skin peel off or pop water blisters that have formed. Unfortunately this pt was burned everywhere. It’s similar to when you get really bad sunburn and a few days later your skin peels. This is just a tiny bit thicker and it’s in places you’re not used to peeling off. Eyelids, lips, scalp, palms of the hand. I was peeling skin off of EVERYWHERE. This process can take a long time. After leaving the tank room and removing your PPE you look like you’ve run a marathon in a rubber suit. Sweat soaked scrubs are the norm. This is why when I leave work I feel like the life force has been sucked out of me.
Another fun part of my day is wound rounds. Doctors and their teams of people will come around to assess how well your patient’s treatment is working. They start at 9:30 and all you need to do is make sure your patient’s dressings are all removed for when the doctor comes in. If they’re not down when they come in apparently some of the doctors are not friendly about it. I had one patient scheduled for wound rounds and I was attempting to be organized with my charting. I did all my charting and meds for one patient and started my take down for patient number 2. At 9:35 I had my patient ready. The doctors hadn’t even started rounding yet, while I was waiting for them, the wound care nurse found out that the doctors had decided that all of the staples needed to be removed from this patient. SURPRISE! This patient had grafts all over their abdomen, arms, hands and parts of their legs. The grafts are 2-inch strips of cadaver skin (allograft) that are stapled on; it looks like a skin quilt. I am not exaggerating when I say it took me and 2 other nurses 3 hours to remove all of these staples. I don’t mind removing staples but I do get a bit of the heeby geebies when I have to pluck them off in-between fingers, finger pads, etc. If I’m ever burned just leave me for dead. This has got to be the worst. Then we needed to dress all the grafts. I walked into this room at 9 and didn’t leave until 2. This patient pooped 3 times, I had to give them their 8 and 12 o’clock meds, hang antibiotics and then try to catch up with my poor patient I had abandoned. Just as I’m about to step out of the room PT was stretching this pt and noticed they had ANOTHER BM. Just shoot me now. I’m am ready to chew off an limb, I am so behind in charting and med administration and now I need to find people to help me turn this 300lb patient so that I can clean them up again. After I had this patient settled I ran around for another hour and finally snuck out for lunch. While I was eating lunch my other patient that I had not seen all morning went into respiratory distress and then needed me to help out while they re-intubated them. Can someone throw me a bone? C’MON! Even though it was busy I learned gobs of new stuff and it made the day fly by. So glad I became a nurse. Wish I had done it sooner.