A Nurse With Attitude

Where Dark Cynical Humor, Nursing Issues, and Politics Seem to Merge

Work Life Balance

     Yesterday I began wondering if I’d just gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. I woke up furious, and was somehow able to maintain it for most of the day. I wasn’t making a conscious effort in that direction, mind you, when I’m irritable, the anger usually fades well before the first case ever starts; I don’t generally hang on to it for extended periods. This was a day that I really needed to go well. I had a spine surgeon that was working in my department for the first time and it needed to go well. To add to the stress, today was a double shift. The overtime was sweet, but the stress was tough.

But when I went to work (hours after I’d gotten out of bed angry) I went to my office to do some paper work. I have a small desk in a small room I share with four other service lead people. Immediately, I saw that my stapler was missing from my desk, and almost lost my grits over it. “Every day!” I yelled, “Every single day I come here, and someone has taken things from my desk. This is not a commune! people need to keep their stinkin’ booger hooks off of my stuff… that was my favorite stapler that I purchased with my own money, from Staples, for cryin’ out loud…” They were all staring at me like I had eaten a kitten. I started to feel self conscious and I decided to take a break and get a coffee.

I’d just had enough of the drudgery, where every single (groundhog) day is exactly the same. I hadn’t had a good day off in a long time, the kind where I don’t have a ‘honey-do list’ and I can actually do my stuff which has been back logged for months. .. and it showed. The whole world was getting me more chapped. But, after an hour or two I settled into it and things got slightly better. I had volunteered to do a CNI shift and although the money was good (overtime plus ten bucks an hour), I just knew that I’d live to regret it. My bad luck. Although I was wishing and almost half expecting it to be quiet and slow, it wasn’t. It was unusually busy and there was no end of the trauma in sight. By midnight, I was physically exhausted to the point of almost needing to barf. I eventually made it to the end. My stomach was raw from the coffee, Red Bull and old pizza.

I was given the option of working the whole weekend, and was actually considering it. But following my unstable Friday morning, I decided to decline. Unless I receive an emergency phone call from Monte the charge nurse, I’ll be off until Monday morning. And it’s a welcome break. I was starting to feel like one of those Chinese women who spend their whole brief lives chained to a bench inside the iPhone assembly camp.

This morning I got up and polished off half a pot of coffee, while playing around on the internet. Then I started to write this update, but my heart wasn’t in it. So, I went out for a while. I have very little interaction with the real world these days, and just a quick walk around Wal-Mart feels like a Pensacola Beach vacation to me. It’s a sad state of affairs.

I had lunch at the local dive in down town St. Helens called the “Cozy Corner” and my monster burrito was expertly rendered. The ingredients were distributed evenly, and there was nothing dripping out the bottom, or anything of the sort. The meat was some left over pot roast, but it was juicy and tender and fit the bill perfectly. I wanted to give my regards to the “chef,” but she was a 17 year old hipster girl with an edge, and I knew she’d just stare back at me with silent contempt.

Then I went to Fred Meyer and purchased a Bob Dylan CD. It was “A Slow Train Coming”. I was chatting to the computer nerd at the electronic section about music and he said that he could “order anything.” I decided to put that braggart to the test. I’ve been wanting it for a while, and it finally arrived. Well, I guess he really can order anything. I had to smile and thank the red headed guy when I arrived. I can’t remember the last time I bought an actual compact disc, but it’s probably been a year or more. I started feeling a bit nostalgic as I removed the shrink-wrap, and peeled off the top-spine sticker. Ahhh… sweet memories. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve if it had come in the old fashoned cardboard “long box” with the picture of Bob on the side.

I went in there prepared for the litany of questions from a Fred Meyer cashier. They always want to know my zip code, my email address, if I want to be on their mailing list, if I have a Fred Meyer card, etc. It’s almost as bad as the post office. But I only got the Fred Meyer card question, and a half-hearted follow-up on the same subject. I gave my best “Old Curmudgeon” look and she could tell I was in no mood for an interview, so the script was quickly abandoned and I was sent on my weirdo way.

I peeled my disc sitting next to my old 1980’s era Hi-Fi. I rarely listen to music here in the living room any more. This old “quadraphonic” thing now makes up my cobbled together “surround sound” for my big screen TV now. I put it right in and listened to it. Pretty rockin’ and I was immediately awash in warm memories of that time. My mood lifted right away.

And on that note… let’s go with a positive Question of the Day. In the comments section, please tell me what’s making you happy these days. What’s your escape from the drudgery.

Now I’m going to go make me some grape cool aid and some microwave pop corn. Then I’m going to put on my “pajama bottoms,” to go with my soft worn out t-shirt and then free-fall into the couch. Yes, there’s nothing like decompression after a double shift on the trauma side of the OR.


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