Sunday, 16 June 2013
I was surfing through facebook this morning and ran across something my daughter posted.
My mama missed a lot of my childhood because she was a nurse,
but that's okay because I need her now more than I did then. :)
It kind of made me feel really bad. I know that I worked to pay bills, but now I feel guilty because of all the crap I did put up with and stuff that the general public doesn't know. Since I'm no longer a nurse, can't work anymore (no thanks to nursing) and it's not considered "whistle blowing" anymore, here's the truth.
Yes, there were times that I couldn't pee and had to hold my bladder for 8 hours because emergency after emergency happened. Nurses have to get medications to their patients with in an hour before and an hour after the prescribed time. That didn't always happen. I remember one time that my little girl was in the hospital 2 hours away and because they couldn't find anyone to cover me in OB, I had to leave her alone, drive down, give the car to my husband, go to work in colored scrubs (white was the only color allowed, but I didn't have time to do laundry since I had spent the last two days in the childrens ward), and wouldn't you know.... another nurse bitched about the color I wore. Forget about the fact that I made it to work with my child in the hospital. Then within the first 5 minutes of getting report that day, my patient coded. We performed CPR with drugs on a frail elderly lady who happened to come back 3 times. During that time, she bit off half of her tongue and handed it to the doctor. I remember standing there thinking... "and I came to work for this?" I hadn't seen any of my patients. No one was even in OB that day. My meds were late. (finally one nurse who liked me offered to pass them for me) I was already 3 hours into this code and I had to thaw out 4 units of cold blood under my armpits which is when they tell me that the helicopters would only fly to a place an hour away, so our ambulance would have to meet them there, and because it was icing (not to mention now I was worried about my husband and 6 year old daughter on the roads), they were reluctant to drive in it, which would mean the patient stayed with us and I would have to take care of her the rest of the night. All this time, the charge nurse didn't reassign my patients either, which meant no one was watching them. This was normal behavior for nurses. They hated us who worked in OB because we would get pulled off the floor all the time for deliveries and the floor nurses would gain extra patients.
The above picture is correct. I've experienced all those situations. I remember one night (when I worked in a nursing home), the flu was going around and I only had 2 CNA's for 83 residents. The norm was for 2 nurses to be in charge, but because one called in sick, I was in charge for the whole place, but luckily 2 med aids stayed over to pass my medications until 6 pm. 1 decided to stay the whole shift to help me out when they found me crumpled in the floor crying. One poor old guy just wheeled up to me and petted my head and told me it would be alright. Nope. Not alright because I had been dealing with 2 dying patients (one happened to be a surgeons mother and I had to tell him not to push food down her throat since she was in a coma state and her muscles didn't work in her throat anymore, which I didn't have the time to baby this surgeon), not to mention I had 5 different patients with severe flu symptoms in which two were severe diabetics. I was on the phone with the doctor all night, reporting possible heartattacks, sky high blood sugars, which then I had to do hourly bloodsugar sticks and po'd residents who needed to go to the bathroom and there weren't enough staff to take care of them, so we got yelled at, people fell on the floor trying to get to the bathroom, and family members calling in which I had to deal with them, meanwhile... a patient finally passed away, so that took 2 staff members off the floor to prepare her for the funeral home. Of course, that was when the family member realized that the patient died and I had to console her. All the time, I was 2 hours late on meds, treatments (didn't get done until 12 pm that night, the residents were thrilled to see me wake them up) and I ended up on Ativan for a nervous breakdown. It was after the stress of that night that I developed depression and anxiety. (For all those wondering where the supervisors where, our ADON had breast cancer and was on chemo and our DON was pregnant and suppose to be on bedrest, but she worked 4 hours earlier and was a high risk pregnancy).
My favorite excuse of all time, done by a nursing home, was when I worked this one job where if you worked 16 hours on Sat. and 16 hours on Sun., they paid you for 40 hours. I had just worked 16 hours the day before, my college neighbors upstairs had partied all night, so I came into work at 6 am the next day, not in the mood to deal with anything and exhausted beyond belief. I grabbed my med cart and was just starting to pass morning meds when a CNA came up to me freaked out. She said, "Something is wrong with Bonnie". Great I was thinking. I locked up my cart and hurriedly walked down to the room to find a CNA holding up this resident who immediately went pale and eyes rolled in the back of her head. No pulse. I yelled for someone to call the ambulance while another aid grabbed the backboard and bag to give respirations. The other nurse joined me and we started chest compressions, unfortunately, there were 3 different kinds of facemasks and none fit the airbag. I think we must have wasted 5 minutes trying to come up with something that would work, luckily, the ambulance had arrived. We coded her for 25 minutes and couldn't bring her back. I was nervous just watching the EMT's because they were brand new and shaking like a leaf, which then I had to tell them what to do, step by step. We did manage to bring the woman back and she lived until the next day. I was upset that we didn't have the right equipment, so I approached the administrator, who was freaked out about a lawsuit. She actually looked me in the eye and said, "What do you want me to do?". I told her that maybe having the appropriate equipment to save lives might be helpful. Of course the DON got yelled at and guess who had to be in charge of ordering and checking the life saving equipment? Yup. Me. Like I can call and order anything on a Sunday. At that time, the nursing home was being investigated for a multiple amount of reasons and I ended up being a witness in a wrongful termination dispute. That was my cue to leave. But because I found a job to transfer to within the company, had already started the job when I turned in my two weeks, the nursing home was upset because they couldn't discriminate against me. In the end, the company found a way to push me out and I didn't have any regrets about leaving. It was the smartest move I ever made in my career. Years later, I found out that this nursing home company had a secret account in the Cayman Islands, so the guy who terminated the wrongful termination suits was the scapegoat for them. I guess Karma found it's way. So glad I got out when I did because the whole company went under severe investigation and nurses had their jobs made harder.
The nursing shortage that existed before 2008, well... I had survived. Barely. Beaten up mostly. The first time I had dislocated my ribs were when a patient fell out of a stand up lift and would have landed on me due to the crowded room, but I caught him and threw him onto the bed. I also developed arthritis in my wrist because a 65 year old patient with a brain tumor developed some strength and threw me against the CT machine. The radiology tech thought it was funny and was dying laughing behind the window until he realized that I really was in trouble, then it was a couple of EMT's walking by who rescued me. I loved that they threw all the overweight patients at me because I actually got my work done and would help others out. My back took a beating when these patients would slide down to the end of the bed and wouldn't do anything to help themselves up. Usually it took all 5 of us nurses to lift them, and that's when I started to strain and pull muscles. Of course at the time, we didn't know I was having flare ups of fibromyalgia which caused the muscle spasms in my body to cause dislocated shoulders, problems with my neck and back. One day, I even showed up to work on crutches because I dislocated my heel bone. My doctors said that was the most unusual injury they had seen. Work was upset with me, pulled me into human resources and yelled at me. Because I had called in so much being sick (it took years to figure out what was wrong with me due to unsympathetic doctors who wouldn't listen), they had labeled me as a bad employee. Funny because in the 13 years I had worked earlier, I had never called in a day in my life! Sadly, I was sent home and then realized that the two weeks off had been a vacation. I had a family and friends. I had worked 16 hour shifts to cover the deficit in OB so much that I didn't realize that they had lives too. They weren't just people who went to school and asked me for lunch money or gas money.
After that, I didn't work as much overtime and eventually took a voluntary layoff from the hospital since they had to cut 27 positions. I took, what I thought, was a better paying job in a nursing home I worked at before I moved across country. Unfortunately, during my transition, a patient had died and the nurses didn't start CPR, so the place was under investigation, plus we didn't have supplies for patients. I've had to reuse gloves with sanitizer for the same patient. I had to use ducktape for a colostomy dressing because it was Friday and the DON wasn't going to deal with the situation. Worse yet, my shoes were filthy from the dirt from the carpet and the place reeked. About the time they wanted me to lie about a morphine count being off, that was when I got despaired and left. My last nursing job was in another nursing home, with the same shortage. I ended up hurt most of the time and had to quit nursing. Most of my doctors shake their heads when they hear of what I've had to do to keep people's Grandmas and Grandpas from falling and breaking a hip. Of course, the look is glazed over, like they really can't comprehend that this really does happen here in America. People ask why we didn't call the investigators, and we did, but something always happened and the nursing homes never got in any trouble. Neither did hospitals for that matter. We had to be careful or else we could be fired for being "whistle blowers", but the investigators were just too stupid to pick up on the raised eyebrows, the over pronounced words, and the wink winks. Since 2008, my state had cut the investigators for nursing homes. I guess just as well. They weren't doing their jobs anyway. What you don't see behind closed doors...