Tired

I’m tired of this.

Aren’t you?

Tired of the battles over wearing masks.

Yes, you absolutely should, no, it does not infringe on your rights.

Tired over the nightly conversation with surgeons about no, the ED patient who is having surgery in the next hour cannot be quickly tested for COVID. Newsflash, we don’t have enough tests.

Tired over never being home alone now that my husband is working from the next room.

Tired of the constant news.

Tired of the constant science naysayers.

Tired of the fact that my backyard has not been mowed in a month.

Tired of the fact that I am tired.

I am tired.

What’s wrong with these people

Friday night I had a tech who told me she was not on call and she would call me back with the person who was, because she just knew they had signed a change sheet.

Spoiler alert, they had not and she did not call me back.

In fact she ducked my calls for the rest of the night.

I sicced my assistant manager on the task to man the phones and get me a replacement call tech.

Because I was too busy converting a laparoscopic case to an open belly case.

I called her at 2230.

At 0015, while we were getting ready to close, she informed me she could not find anyone willing to come in.

And the original call tech had taken her sleepy medicine so she could not come in.

I had to keep my tech, who had been working hard all day and evening long, against her will.

I will be escalating this if nothing happens.

This is unacceptable.

Keeping on keeping on

I have had limited outside exposure outside of work.

I go to the grocery store once a week.

I go to the comic book store (small, local business) once a month.

I go to the bookstore (books!) once a month.

I go to Target once a month for those things I can’t get from my grocery store.

I go to all of these places as soon as they open, hoping to avoid crowds.

I go to work every day.

All of my meetings have been switched to Zoom.

I wash my hands, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer when I can’t wash my hands.

This is all the new normal for me.

I would like it to be the new normal for everyone.

You don’t have to go to the same places I go to.

You don’t have to go at the same times I go.

You don’t have to go anywhere at all.

But please wear a mask and cleanse your hands.

Please.

If not for yourselves than for your loved ones.

 

The saddest OR case

I’m not going to lie.

It’s been a rough week in the OR.

This is outside of the Covid-19, mask tumult, Black Lives Matter.

Something you never want to hear a surgeon say is “hmm, that doesn’t look good.”

Especially when he is talking about the suspicious appearance of the abdominal tissue discovered while doing a lap chole.

Especially when he says “gosh, that looks like CA.”

The patient is going to have to wait for the pathology report.

Or, while doing an upper endoscopy, looking for bleeding, and small bowel tumors let them selves be seen.

Or the peek and shriek.

What is the peek and shriek?

It is where the belly is opened emergently through a long midline incision and the surgeon gets to the bowel, quickly buzzing bleeders and cutting through the fascia to discover the bowel is completely dark purple and necrotic.

This has happened while anesthesia is still doing their thing and putting in lines to monitor the patient.

There is nothing to do but close them  up and take them to the PACU.

There is no life without the bowel.

Emergency laparotomy case with terrible labs, acidotic as hell, a very worrisome CT, and the beep that comes in the middle of a Saturday morning to summon you to it.

Other things that are not reassuring is the anesthesiologist remarking that the patient’s vital signs are trending toward a code.

Now, quickly, have to get the patient off the table and to the ICU so they don’t die on the OR table.

Taking care to get the ICU bed and the travel monitor so we can keep an eye on their vitals and react to his blood pressure and saturation readings.

Taking care to count as the surgeon is frantically closing.

Taking care to secure the foley to the leg so that the catheter is not pulled on.

Taking care to have a travel monitor available, plus a full tank of oxygen to make the trek to the ICU.

Taking care to take the seven extras EKG leads off the abdomen.

Taking care to put a gown on them.

Taking care to put a new pillow under the patient’s head, with a chux pad on top of it.

Taking care to send someone to call for the elevator and hold it until we get there.

We pass the surgeon in the hall, talking to the family, somewhere in the midwest.

Student Loan recap

There were two different student  loans.

Each with wildly different interest rates.

One was federal, one was not.

I will admit I was stupid when I was signing up for student loans.

I knew there was no way our budget could stretch to the entire tuition price for Chamberlain College of Nursing.

I took out loans.

$21,000 to be precise.

And while I was in school I was not smart about paying interest every month.

I may have just been trying to survive this new online education thing.

Toward the end of the BSN program I wised up and started paying for interest.

After the end of my BSN classes I knew I was going to go to Queens for my MSN.

And I did.

But I wasn’t smart enough yet.

So I took out a second set of student loans.

This brought my total to $29,000 before I started to pay for each quarter out of pocket.

In the background was me paying off three credit cards with a combination of tax returns, tuition reimbursement, and clinical ladder money.

I looked at my students loans and decided to keep paying the interest payment on the one with the smaller interest rate. And to double down on paying down the one with the higher interest rate with as much money as I could. This was helped by paying off all the credit cards. Twenties gets most everyone.

I paid that one off in November of 2019.

This left me with a balance of just over $20,000.

And I set my eyes on paying off the other student loan. I had a lofty goal of paying the entire shebang off by the time I graduated.

I was going to use a combination of our yearly bonus, my clinical ladder money, and the $6,000 in tuition reimbursement for 2019 and 2020.

And then Covid happened.

Well hell.

Clinical ladder was suspended.

All the money I had paid for my AORN conference had already been  paid out.

Nearly $2,000.

All the money had been paid for my graduation trip to London, all $14,000 had been spent. This is going to be pushed back a year.

The hospital still received our yearly bonus and I put that money toward the student loan.

The 2019 tuition reimbursement paid out in February and I held on to that money, just in case the economy did something stupid, including my job or my husband’s job.

And I had heard something about student loan forgiveness for front line workers.

Yeah, right.

I have submitted my tuition reimbursement for this year. It was a day late, I hope I am not penalized for not paying attention to the timing because after I graduated George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis.

And the Black Lives Matter movement began to heat up.

And it was Pride month and I am a proud Ally.

Regardless I submitted my tuition reimbursement  for 2020.

They are accepting Clinical Ladder applications again.

I will be submitting my 2020 clinical ladder application in three days.

My current student loan debt is at $14,499.

Between the clinical ladder money and the tuition reimbursement and a little extra it should be covered.

I should have my remaining student loan paid off by September or October.

I’m still holding on to the 2019 tuition reimbursement money.

July, I’ve got my eye on you.

 

 

Interesting times

It has been months and we STILL live in interesting times.

Sometimes it feels like someone is messing with the timeline.

Sometimes it feels like someone has tripped the Groundhog Day protocol.

Quick sit-rep:

Our ORs have gone back to doing elective cases.

I did not lose any hours during the forced downturn because no one wanted to work my shift.

Job security.

I’m about to top out on my PTO because no one wanted to work my hours.

My husband is working from home.

Right this second he’s doing phone calls from the other desk in the office.

His project was partially sidelined by the virus.

He has not lost any hours during this time.

He offered to steer his project while taking calls from the phone desk.

So the members of his team could keep some of their hours.

He has left the house three times, beginning six weeks ago, since this has begun.

People still aren’t wearing masks.

I wear a mask in stores.

I wear a mask at work.

The trials of watching other people not wearing masks will be another post.

Tired

Still not sleeping.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve started a simple data collection.

Every night I note when I go to bed.

Every morning I note when I get up.

I’m going to bed later and later.

I’m sleeping late and later.

But the sleep that I do get is interrupted by dreams that my heart is stopping.

Between 0125-0133.

Always between those times.

And then I read myself back to sleep.

My sleep is fragmented.

My heart gets a good workout from fight or flight nearly every night.

I sleep later than I want to every morning.

I am adding a data collection point.

I will now be noting how many times I wake up with my heart pounding.

Between 0125-0133.

I just want to sleep.

 

Supporting those who need it

I am a white woman.

I have enjoyed white privilege my entire life.

This does not make my life easy.

This just means my life is not that much harder due to the color of my skin.

I must speak up when it is necessary.

I must speak up when things are wrong.

I must support those who have no support.

I have been trying hard to be a good ally.

I read today that is not what people need.

They need co-conspirators.

They need someone to hold out a hand to help them up when they have been smacked down.

Because, right now, they have been knocked down and kicked.

Not only by our police.

Not only by others in their neighborhoods.

Not only by our president.

I will not knock others down because I perceive they are a threat.

A perception that is incorrect.

I will not known others down at all.

People

I’ve written before about the evening shift swear word.

PEOPLE

You have to pop the Ps.

It is understood to stand for all manners of polite insults.

And some not so polite insults.

Sometimes there is an unsaid fucking in front of the word.

However, I think we need a second swear word.

One for the people who do not follow the CDC guidelines

One for the people who do not wear a mask properly.

One for the people who wear gloves in public, touching EVERYTHING without removing the gloves and putting on new ones after washing their hands.

I wonder if a non verbal cue would do.

Miming banging my head against the wall.

Or not miming it and actually doing it.

Sleep, I don’t need no stinking sleep

I’m done with school.

With the early morning clinical hours.

With the early morning the paper is due tonight, guess I’ll get started.

With the late night answering of discussion questions and responses to others.

With early mornings really.

So why can’t I sleep?

I fall asleep rather easily.

I am having a hard time staying asleep.

Part of it could be put down to the pandemic.

To the uncertainty.

To the wild emotional swings of quarantine life while working full time.

To the unknown.

To seething in rage when I see people poo-pooing the pandemic and the mask wearing.

Oh!

The incorrect mask wearing; I think all health care providers will have PTSD because of everyone who refuses to wear a mask or wears in on their forehead, or under their nose, or under their chin.

Whatever the reason, I can’t sleep.

Off to bed I go.

Because everynight is a chance to get it right.