I never thought that I would become a nurse. I never intended to. But, God has a funny sense of humor, and I wasn’t laughing all the time.
There are days that you have to literally grind your teeth, to keep your composure. Sometimes being a nurse means knowing when to duck. You know, when irritable patient starts throwing things at you. Especially when you tell them they are on a strict bedrest, and that climbing out of bed means the exact opposite.
I have a colleague that while feeding his patient via nasogastric tube, the patient was punching his abdomen. Others would try to sink their teeth on you. Some are able to kick the nurses while letting out some curses. Mind you, these were all done by an 87yo female patient. Surely, she was an instant hit in the area. We would then ask her if she was a former ninja.
I couldn’t possibly tell how much sacrifices we nurses have to endure. So, it is true, not all jobs are created equal.
It starts with working on a rotating schedule. Just when you thought you have finally got the hang of it, it’s time to start a different one. It’s worst for those who are on a floating schedule, today you’re 6-2, tomorrow 10-6, the next day off, then 6a-6p.
Next, our break time is undefined. For example, it doesn’t mean that when the clock strikes 12 we can take our lunch. Nope. Twelve noon means feeding the patients and not the nurses. Break time is when you are able to find one.
I just don’t know how many times my colleagues and I have thought of drinking the osteorized food of our patients out of hunger. I’m a small person and my husband is thrice my size, but I can beat him anytime of who can eat the fastest contest. That’s one trait you develop as a nurse, along with the ability to hold your bladder for more than 8 hours.
On my first two months as a nurse, I lost 10 pounds. Not only that, I had urinary tract infection (UTI) for months. I was losing weight because I wasn’t eating enough and the work was too much. I had UTI because I don’t empty my bladder, and I am not taking enough fluids. It’s not that I’m ignoring it. I found out that if you are too busy, you would feel no hunger nor urge to relieve yourself.
In the area where I work, it’s not easy to leave your patients unattended. You don’t know what could and might happen, for that split second you take your eyes off your patient. A confused person can easily remove vital contraptions that he has, like endotracheal tube or nasogastric tube, foley catheter, IV tubings etc. Some patients are really gifted, you can restraint every limb in their body, yet, like Houdini, can remove them with ease. You’ll be amazed of what an 87yo woman can do, just to remove her contraptions (yep, it’s the ninja octogenarian).
If you are a nurse, say goodbye to holidays. Gone are the days when I leaped with joy every time a holiday is being announced on television. I also stopped looking at the red marks on the calendar, as they don’t serve me any purpose (except double pay). Last year, I have experienced my first new year in the hospital. While everyone else was busy celebrating the year end, I was busy talking to our resident doctor, discussing what to do to our patients, in order for them to see another year.
It is not easy calling in sick if your company runs a hospital. Your employer have bunch of doctors and diagnostic equipment ready to verify your excuse. The good thing is, if you really are sick, they don’t want you anywhere within 5 feet of the hospital walls. Again, if you are really sick.
In a normal job, you can hit the door at the end of your shift. In the hospital, you need to be sure that you have someone to endorse your patient to. If not, you cannot leave work, and have a very high chance of probability that you will wrestle another 8 hours of shift. Last year, when a super typhoon hit Manila, quite a number of nurses had to work 24 hours straight because their reliever cannot go to the hospital due to flood.
Health hazard is an understatement. Unlike doctors who spend time with their patients for good 5-10 minutes a day, we nurses devote our entire shift to our patients. When doctors needed specimen, you can count on nurses to get it for them, be it blood, saliva, urine or feces. I swear, I’m just 5 suction catheters away to tell what kind of bacteria the patient has, just by looking at the color of their phlegm.
At first, I thought that only winged-living creatures can fly. But the same, is also true for blood, feces, urine and sadly, phlegm.
Ever since I became a nurse, my social life becomes non-existence. After work, the second my back touches my bed, I’m in lala land. Even the nuclear bomb that hit Hiroshima won’t be able to wake me up. In a good way, it helped me and husband save money. I don’t have to buy new clothes, or buy food, since I don’t go out that much and I eat very little. I also consider my scrub suits now as a formal wear, ready to use at any fine dining restaurant.
My love and hate relationship with nursing may still go on a daily basis. But, at the end of the day, when you know that somehow you contributed in piecing together the life of a person….being a nurse isn’t that bad at all.
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