Merry Christmas in the ER

Oh, my. I don't mind working holiday nights. I like the holiday pay, and I don't have a husband anymore or any children. My extended family usually doesn't have holiday celebrations on the actual day anymore anyway because everyone else is married and has to coordinate with multiple spouses and sometimes ex-spouses. The only thing I mind is listening to people bitching about having to work and how unfair the schedule is.

Listen up: you sign up to be a nurse, you sign up to greatly inconvenience yourself. Fact. People get sick over the holidays. We gotta work. No point dragging our feet. It's one of those necessary evils like learning to function while exhausted. Gotta do it.

I've always found holidays are black or white, all or nothing, feet up or balls to the wall. No in between. Last night was balls to the wall. I like being steady because the shift goes faster, but this edged up to my comfort level. Still, I had a patient say, "I'm SO glad you were my nurse tonight. You are a REALLY good nurse. Now I see why my mother said nurses were angels of mercy." I almost cried, for realz. Few people compare me to celestial beings.

I'm back tonight, and we'll see what the holiday spirit brings. I don't notice an uptick in suicides and the stuff I would expect. One year we had a lot of people removing digits with electric carving knives, but that was an anomaly, I guess. Perhaps in the ER we just ALWAYS have mental health-- and substance-related issues, so we don't notice a difference like other areas might? I don't know.

Work is nice lately. My coworkers have risen to the occasion, after a few hiccups, and welcomed me back after my extended "transition to return to work." However, my favorite doctor has gone, and I miss her. You know how some doctors you can work a code with and it's all calm and nobody really talks and it's a smooth choreographed situation because you both know what happens next? That's how she was. When I had patients with her I'd run a list of stuff by her and do it all by the time she walked in the room so she'd have a lined, labbed, x-rayed, cultured patient whose length of stay was cut by at least an hour. She let nurses use their brains. Also, she was damn funny. She thought I was a good nurse so that increased my feelings of affection; she'd say, "I love nurses who can put a 20 in a finger and find me a vein in a foot." No, not on the SAME patient. Anyway, a little light has gone out of my work life. Nothing wrong with the rest of our physician group; I just actually looked FORWARD to working with this one.

Also, this week I had my annual performance review, which made me sweat for obvious reasons, but it was overwhelmingly positive. Even when I scoured it, the only even potentially negative comment was that on my chart review I wrote a narrative note about "multiple unsuccessful attempts to secure IV access" instead of using the special form for each site. Shrug. During a code? I don't CARE where the failed IV sites are. So that isn't very negative. It was a nice anxiety-relieving Christmas gift.

For nurse readers, I hope your shifts go well today and tomorrow. For nonmedical readers, remember your local emergency services folks…docs, nurses, medics, and police. We're up and ready to help you when you fall into the Christmas tree after too much egg nog and cut your face open on that antique glass ornament or when you have a wreck after midnight mass because that 90-year old lady was out driving too late!