Yet To Find Your Calling

| Right | June 12, 2015

(I have an elderly patient that has been a little confused due to recent illness…)

Me: “Can I help you with something?”

Patient: “How the h*** should I know?!”

Me: “Well, you put on your call light…”

Patient: “Well, I’m confused! You’re the nurse; it’s your job to know what I need and just do it!”

Me: “Okay. I’ll return if I figure it out…”

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A Disability At Having A Disability

| Right | May 1, 2015

(I work in an assisted living facility. Our residents run the range from sharp as a nail to completely senile, and perfectly fit to bedridden. This particular woman, whose health care is paid for by the state, has in her medical records that she cannot stand, cannot use one arm at all, and has limited use of her other. There is nothing wrong with her mentally.)

Me: *forgetting to knock before entering her room* “Hey. Sorry to disturb you. I’m just here to… get your… trash…”

(She’s standing at her sink, washing an apple. We lock eyes, and she slowly lowers herself to the floor.)

Me: “Um…”

Female Customer: “I crawled over, but I can’t get up now.”

Me: “Do you need me to call anyone for help?”

Female Customer: “No. No need to give the nurses extra work. I’ll manage. Would you be all right to come back later?”

Me: “…Sure.”

(Apparently I’m not the first one to catch her. But we could never conclusively prove that she was faking disability.)

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Don’t Breathe A Word About This

| Working | October 29, 2014

(I am visiting my mother in a nursing home. She has a roommate, but keeps the curtain between the two beds closed.)

Roommate: *unintelligible*

Mom: “Go see what she wants.”

(I get up and go around the curtain.)

Roommate: “Ask your mother to ring the nurse. My call button isn’t working.”

Me: “The light over your bed is on.”

Roommate: “I rang for the nurse 40 minutes ago and nobody has come.”

Me: “The light over the door is on, as well.”

Roommate: “My oxygen tube has fallen out and I’m getting dizzy.”

Me: *sprints down hall to nurse’s station*

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Not My Problem Coworkers

| Working | October 3, 2014

(The morning after a major snowstorm, most of our first shift staff have difficulty getting in to work. I’m an hour late, and only the second one in. Knowing this might happen, our manager made sure to issue instructions to the staff that all workers are expected to work late if their replacement is delayed by the snow. When I arrive, the third shift staff, who are notorious for shirking anything they see as extra work, are seated at the nurses’ station, waiting to hand off the keys to the med carts. I can see that more than a dozen call lights are going off, meaning that residents are likely lying in pools of their own waste and waiting to be changed.)

Third Shifter #1: “About d*** time you got here. We’ve been waiting to give you the keys so we can clock out.”

Me: “You’re still on the clock? Have you been answering call lights?”

Third Shifter #2: “H***, no. After 6 am, they’re not our problem.”

Me: “So you’ve just left them lying there for the last hour?”

Third Shifter #1: “Yes. Ain’t my problem. You just count the narcotics and sign the book so we can clock out.”

Me: “Can you stay on the clock for a while longer and help me until more of the first shift staff arrives?”

Third Shifter #2: “Ain’t gonna happen. We stayed late enough already, and we’re going home.”

(I count the narcotics, sign the logbook, and accept the keys to the med carts. Knowing that I’m in for a rough day, I start answering call lights. Thankfully, I get a call from our manager, saying that she’s using her truck to pick up stranded coworkers, so help is on the way. As I exit a resident’s room carrying a bag of soiled linens and over-soaked adult diapers, I see the third shift staff sitting in the dining room, drinking coffee and laughing.)

Me: “Hey, guys, did you decide to stay and help? Room 34 has been waiting the longest, and room—”

Third Shifter #1: “I told you no. We’re off the clock now. But the buses ain’t runnin’ because of the snow, so we’re stuck here until they plow.”

Me: “So you’re going to sit there and listen to the bed alarms going off?”

Third Shifter #2: “F*** you.”

(A grueling half-hour later, the manager arrives with three other caregivers. The manager, usually a well-dressed professional, is wearing scrubs and sneakers, and proceeds to claim responsibility for changing and dressing an entire hall of residents.)

Manager: “[My Name], why are [Third Shifters #1 and #2] sitting there drinking coffee?”

(I explain the situation with as much patience as I can muster, but the frustration in my voice when I relay the ‘ain’t my problem’ moment is palpable.)

Manager: “[Third Shifter #1 and #2]! if you’re not working, you’re not allowed to hang out here. Clock in or walk out the door.”

Third Shifter #1: “But the buses ain’t runnin’, and there’s two feet of snow. Where are we supposed to go?”

Manager: “Ain’t my problem.”

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Third Time Is The Charm

| Working | September 22, 2014

(Our nursing home has two floors. In the evenings one nurse is working on the first floor and one on the second floor. The third person is helping out on both floors. This happens after a very hectic morning.)

Elderly Lady: *buzzing her phone* “Nurse, can you come help me? I need to go to the bathroom.”

Me: *answering the call* “I’ll be right with you. One second, please.”

(I call a coworker to help the lady, as I’m very busy.)

Me: “Hey, can you help Mrs. [Elderly Lady]? She needs to go to the bathroom and I’m very busy.”

Coworker: “I’m busy too; can’t you call [Coworker #2]? I’m up to my elbows in feces.”

Me: “No, she’s getting someone ready for bed. What phone number does the third person have? She might be able to do it.”

Coworker: “… Sweety, I know it’s been a hectic day, but this is ridiculous. You ARE the third person!”

Me: “Oh, yeah…”

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