Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat?

Well, I guess that's the question lately. Everyday. Is my life a big effing trick or full of sweet treats. I think it's mostly good, except for this one big black spot on it.

my job ::cough::

'Scuse me. Little something in my throat there. Anyway, this was my long week. The week I work 4 night shifts instead of three. I think the worst part (besides the 60 hours at work, 8 hours of commuting and 500 miles on my car) is the fact that on weeks like this I don't get to see my husband hardly at all. I don't get to see anyone really but it's not seeing Brad that really stings. For example, this week we saw each other Sunday night and then not again until Thursday night. Yep! Four days. It's like one of us went out of freaking town. And on regular weeks that interval only shortens to three days! But somehow I guess we've learned to handle this. Mind you, there are lots of phone calls but it's just not the same. Can anyone out there imagine not seeing their spouse for
3 days straight every week? And then missing them for 4 days straight once a month?!? It's rough.

On the bright side, if I had to pull 4 shifts, this was a pretty great week to do it. For several reasons:
  1. Really light census. For those of you who don't work in a medical setting, the census (or number of patients) is a big part of how busy you are at work. It was really light this week, which I'm super grateful for!
  2. Plus, not a lot of scheduled C-sections. Backstory: The first C-section of the day is at 7:30am and I am supposed to get off at 8am. In theory, the 7:30 C-section should be the last thing I do before I duck out. Problem is, no one there can seem to get their act together and the 7:30 C-section rarely (read: never) goes at 7:30. I'm usually not paged until 8am, which means the baby won't be born until 8:15 and I'm lucky to be out of there at 8:30 or so. 30 minutes late. So I hate the AM sections. So the fact that I only had one this week was heaven!! I'm thinking since it's Halloween week, moms are choosing not to be have their babies born so close to the holiday. Since it's scheduled, obviously they have the luxury of picking the day. That's my guess anyway.
  3. They are re-doing the call room this week. Sucks a little because I've been shuffled around between call rooms and the phone hasn't worked and everything has been a war-zone with all the construction. But they pretty much started and ended all the work within a couple of days which was great. AND the new call room looks amazing!! The best part is the mattress, which now actually passes for a mattress and not a boulder covered in noisy plastic! And it's clean with new carpet and wallpaper! Can I just tell you that there were sticky stains all over than room that I think are older than I am!! It was gross. Oh, oh, oh!! And I saw them bring in a fridge and microwave!!! That's right, I can actually store my food and eat in my breakroom rather than walking across the hospital to store my lunch box!! Woo hoo!! I'll hafta post pics because that room is freakin' sweet!!
  4. Brad was sick this week. And as much as I would have loved to be home to take care of him, it's probably best that we were apart so I didn't get sick as well. Not only would we probably end up just passing it back and forth for weeks (yes, it's happened before and, yes, it sucks) but I'm also apparently not allowed to call out of work. (long story but basically I've been told that "of course you can take time off, just make sure to give enough notice that they can find someone to cover your shift, at least a month would be great." Uh, okay. So what about being sick or emergencies? Can't exactly plan those! Remember my car accident? Yeah, bite me.) So anyway, getting sick isn't an option.
I'm a little bummed that I have to work on Halloween. I knew going into this job that I'd have to work some portion of the weekend. And really thought only having to work Fridays was about the best it could get. But every frickin' holiday this year has been on an effing Friday! WTF? July 4th was the other big one. Not that I have plans but I'm excited that we may get trick-or-treaters this year and I'm a little bummed that I won't get to be there to see them and hand out candy. In fact, I've already told Brad that he must open the door for trick-or-treaters and he must give them candy and he must be nice to them and try to remember their costumes so he can give me a full description when I come home the next day.

Well, that's it for now. Lotsa other stuff going down but I'll save it for another post. Plus, we close on our new house in 3 days!!! Woo hoo!!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life and death . . .

Yeah, so as much as this particular job stinks, my job in general is pretty cool. I mean, I save babies. How much more noble can you get than that really? Not to toot my own horn or anything. . . Anyway, in the past I have definitely had some humbling experiences and, don't get me wrong, I do comprehend the weight of my authority and position in the NICU and in the delivery room. And I do have a healthy dose of "scared" in me. But lately I've gotten quite used to (and jaded by) the boring, mind-numbing monotony that is a tiny Level 2 NICU, not to mention the newborn nursery. :: insert dramatic groan here :: Then last week happened. I'm not going to go into too many details, well, because legally I can't. But let's just say I had a wake-up call. The night started out with a baby that was having a few minor problems . . . and by the end of my shift 14 hours later, those problems had turned life-altering. For the baby, for its family and for me. This baby had suffered a stroke.

Let me first say that there was nothing I did that caused this and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, nor did I do anything that made it worse in any way. I suppose the most I could have done was recognize it sooner, but again that would not have improved this child's outcome. That said . . . it took me hours of research and crying and speaking with my attending physician to be absolutely certain of all this. You see, it doesn't really matter that there was technically nothing I could have done, the weight of my guilt was staggering. By the end of the night when I realized what was happening, all I could think is "Ohmigod, what did I do?"

Because I'm so new to this, I was absolutely convinced that I had done something wrong, somewhere along the line. I felt stupid and incompetent and it was completely unnerving to think that I could have missed something while caring for this baby. And I was absolutely I was convinced I had. I was devastated and I couldn't stop thinking about this child. Replaying the night over and over in my head. I thought of a million little things that I could have done differently, only to realize that hindsight was 20/20. There was no way I could have known. Again, it didn't matter. I cried all the way home. I cried all day long. I didn't sleep and I researched his condition all afternoon. It was an extraordinary feeling to feel absolutely responsible for another human's life. It was awful. It made me never want to be in that position ever again.

I get a huge rush from "saving" babies. From resuscitating them at a delivery, from seeing the things I do make a baby better, from reassuring and encouraging timid parents. It's a huge thrill and an absolute honor to be a part of it all. But on that day I wanted absolutely no part of it. Ever. Again. Because, for the first time, I was forced to wonder if instead of helping, I hurt someone. Not hurt as in may be in the NICU a couple more days or in some other way where the baby will ultimately be fine. But hurt as in may never walk, never talk, never play like normal a child. Hurt as in a mother and father grieving over the loss of their perfect child. The weight of that was unbearable.

It took several days for me to come to grips with this. To process it and let go of my guilt. It took seeing the baby slowly get better and hearing from someone with 30 years of experience that this particular case had him "scratching his head too." But for about 24 hours there, I wanted no part of my job. The weight of it felt like it was crushing me. The idea of ever making a "mistake" that could hurt a baby like that was too daunting to face. But slowly I realized that, just like the good things, that is what comes with the territory. You can't help people without risking hurting them. You can't always save every patient. And you can't always be perfect. I don't want to be human at my job, it's too scary. But, unfortunately, that's something about myself I can't change. The best I can do is learn from the scary times and the mistakes and never make the same ones twice. And pray that God is with me in everything I do, especially at that place. At was so scary to go back to work, but in the end I had to believe that I have it in me to do so much more good in my career. I want to learn and to be better and to save more lives, God willing. I want to believe that I can.


I'm only pretty sure that I can't take anymore
Before you take a swing
I wonder what are we fighting for
When I say out loud
I want to get out of this
I wonder is there anything
I'm going to miss
I wonder how it's going to be
- Third Eye Blind, "How's It Going To Be"