I knew nursing school would be rough, and I was willing to sacrifice my sleep to get my degree. I would arrive in class like something from the walking dead. I managed to get through the tough times in nursing school because I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and there was. But jeez, can we turn the light off sometimes and just all go night-nights?
Well, as you’ve gathered by now I’m a zombie nurse. I graduated 6-years ago, and I work on a busy med-surg floor. 12-hour shifts are the norm, and I work mine three-in-a-row. I guess you could say, I’m a glutton for punishment, and you’d be right. Many nurses choose to separate their shifts throughout the week so that they won’t be so tired. But me? Nah, I’m a diehard. I figure, if I’m already working, I may as well continue through till I’m done, then enjoy being off for four days. My boss thinks I’m crazy, but I would never admit that she’s right about that, because she already thinks she’s Einstein’s ghost.
My day starts out at ridiculous o’clock. I’ve already slammed the alarm clock three times, but it refuses to shut-up. It’s like Groundhog day all over again. It’s so early that the bats are still up and flying around. I open my eyes again, only to realize I slept through the last snooze, and I’ve got one minute and thirty seconds to get in the shower, get dressed, eat, make coffee and drive to work… way to go stupid! I curse, then roll my butt out of bed cursing and swearing that I’ll be smarter tonight and go to bed earlier, so I can get up easily the next day. But it never happens. I’m such a liar!
I take a freezing cold shower to wake my lazy cells, then thank God and WonderWink that I get to work in my pajamas. Man, I love my scrubs. I run downstairs, tear open the fridge and grab a moldy, unrecognizable piece of fruit?, (or something) and I don’t have time for coffee. Yeah, I hate my life about now.
I look like Dog-doo cause I don’t have any make-up on. Maybe that’s okay for some nurses. You know, the ones who are naturally fabulous at 6:00 o’clock in the morning, but not my ugly butt. I look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backward, and it never fails. No one can shut their mouth about my appearance at work. It has to be, “hey, you don’t look like you feel good,” or “wow, you look tired.” Yes, I’m tired, and no, I’m not sick, I’m just freaking ugly without my Estee Lauder Halloween mask.
Trying to eat breakfast while listening to report is a challenge, even for me. Now, I’ve got a strong stomach but why does every one of my patients have to have all the poop, vomit and pus problems? I listen as I gag my half-rotten banana down my throat and envy someone else’s McDonald’s. Everyone else seems so much more organized and fresh. I can barely keep my eyes open to listen to the report. I seem to have gotten Ms. Nurse, “I want to get the heck outta here.” to give me report, because she’s giving report like she’s Speedy Gonzales, and she just keeps hurriedly uttering, “It’s in the chart,” when I ask any questions. Gawd, it’s gonna be a long day.
I feel like I’ve run a marathon, and it’s only 7:30 am. Time flies when you’re having fun! Assessments and passing meds, doesn’t sound too bad, right? Haha, wrong. All my patients are trainwrecks today, on a million-and-one meds, and we don’t have half of them. It’s call down to the pharmacy time, and I’m now doing the zombie chant, “I love my job, I love my job.” out loud.
I’m already daydreaming about bedtime, but I complete my assessments without too much trouble. Well, except for the sweet old, demented lady that keeps asking me to find her socks, (when she has them both on). The patient next to her thinks the Mafia is plotting to kill him and Mr. Gross, who keeps asking me to give him a bed bath. Tell me why I became a nurse again?
I finish up my morning charting, and I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. If I don’t get massive quantities of heavily caffeinated coffee, I’m gonna be on the floor. It’s time for a quick run down to the cafeteria to grab some. Ah, what da ya know? They have some, but it’s so old and strong, it’s about ready to grow legs and walk off by itself. What the hell, I need coffee! So I pay their stinkin million bucks for a large coffee and dash upstairs for more “Nightmare on Elm Street,” starring my boss as Freddie Krueger.
She’s hell on wheels today, as she is most days. She sits at the desk and barks orders at us, and she’s fairly clueless about what real nursing is all about. The only time she rises from the dead to lend a hand is when Joint Commission is here, and she suddenly becomes Nancy Nurse and has everyone reciting the mission statement.
While I was gone one of my patients fell out of bed, trying to run away from the Mafia that guy came to visit. All I can think about is more paperwork. The patient is totally fine, but I have a hundred years worth of paperwork now. As I start the work on the book I have to write, another patient’s family member comes to visit. She wants to talk to me, so I stop what I’m doing and rush to the patient’s room. She tells me that she’s not a nurse and says, “I’m not trying to do your job, but a friend of mine works at a nursing home, and she does something medical. She said that you have my Mother on too many antibiotics and that she’s on the wrong kind.” Hmmm, really? By this time I’ve reached my boiling point, but I’m still trying to be nice. “Well, let me check on that and I’ll get back to you.” I cheerily say, while muttering under my breath as I walk away.
8 hours go by, and I’m still flying around like a witch on her broomstick. My charting still isn’t done, and I’m getting further behind with every step I take. One great thing about being a nurse is that the time ticks by so quickly because you never come up for air.
At the end of every day, my bladder aches from the need to pee. I think I could win a hold-your pee competition hands-down! I’m a beast! My stomach is gurgling from the lack of food and this day is fast becoming more like tales from the crypt. All I can think about is getting the heck outta dodge. But over-time is fast becoming a haunting possibility. When will this end?
I manage to wrap up my paperwork, and my patients are finally happy, (for now). Could it really be over? My relief arrives, and I run into her arms like a corny love story. I’m elated that it’s over for today. I can go home. Yay! I run to my car, noticing that it’s a full moon outside, although I could have told you that without looking. I get in my car, start my engine and breath a sigh of utter relief. I look in the rearview mirror and jump out of my wits in fear. There’s a scary monster looking back at me. Oh wait, that’s just me after the 12-hour shift from hell.
On my way home I reflect on my day. I realize that I’m a wreck, but in a good way. I wouldn’t take anything for the witches I work with and the little-devil patients I occasionally encounter. I love my life as a nurse and wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world. It may be nuts, but it’s my life and I love being a zombie nurse. Maybe I’ll just resign myself to sleeping when I’m dead.
This is dedicated to all my zombie nurse friends around the world. Happy Halloween Zombie Nurses! You’re totally awesome!