Ants at a Picnic

There are few (actually, very few) days when I feel like my best isn’t good enough.  Today was definitely one of them.  I actually shed tears (note: plural).  I cried more than once at work today and that is mind boggling in and of itself.  Nine times out of ten if I’m crying it’s because I’m frustrated, not because I’m sad or hurt.  Today’s tears were a culmination of stress, hurt feelings, anger and just a sense of depletion.  My morale was depleted. 

In case you don’t know much about me, I am a nurse and I work full time in a long term care center (aka a “nursing home”).  I typically have a 30:1 ratio (30 residents to my one self) and while most days I can handle that, today I did not feel so confident.  It all started at about 7 a.m….  I was trying to examine and clean a new laceration on one of my residents’ legs.  I don’t know what, exactly, pissed this guy off but he was convinced that I, personally, had caused the scrape.  As I tried to explain as plainly as possible WHAT I was doing and WHY I was doing it, this person HIT ME.  It wasn’t hard and it didn’t hurt but the action pissed me off.  He then proceeded to kick his leg at me, hitting my knee.  I was thinking ‘All this when I’m trying to bandage your leg, you ungrateful _______________!’  Of course, I’m a human first and a nurse second.  I am usually capable of reversing that thinking for 8 hours (nurse first, human second) but today it just wasn’t happening.  As a way of showing my resident that I was displeased and intolerant of his combative behavior, I left his bloody sock on him.  Had things gone more smoothly I would most definitely have helped him put a clean sock on.  But no.  You wanna swing at me?  Bloody sock for you.  Like I said, this was where it started…

Thursdays have been dubbed “Skin Day” because my Assistant Director of Nursing measures all of the wounds on Thursdays, which means she has to be present for just about all of my dressing changes.  (Non nursing people: “bandaging”.)  This seems like a simple, hunky-dory -“Oh, yay, it’s Skin Day…”-type of day but au contraire, mon frere.  It is very time consuming and often stressful.  Not because my boss intimidates me or because I don’t like wound care (because both ideas are FAR from the truth) but because it puts me “behind” in my daily routine.  I feel pressed for time and barely able to catch my breath every. damned. Thursday.  Today was no different.

My CNA’s (Certified Nursing Assistants) sought me out to tell me two or three times that another resident needed me.  “I know, I’m coming,” was my response but I was thinking ‘Fuck.  It’s 7:40 already? Shit. I’m behind.’  By the time I got to that resident, he was infuriated.  He was seriously pissed.  “You’re worthless!” he rebuttled as I tried to plead an explanation: “Roger* I’m so sorry it took me so long…..”  “What???”  I was befuddled.  This pissed about a damned cream?  Oh shit, this is going to be a long day…  I ended up welling up with tears as I exited his room to resume my duties on the floor.  As I’m walking back to my med cart, I’m being told “Bre-ee, Simon’s peeing in the dining room!”  I enter to find a demented resident with his pants down.  In the dining room.  With old ladies present.  “Please, Simon, please.  I’m begging you to please come with me to your room, I’ll help you!”  I tried to place an optimistic note at the end of the sentence and I heard my voice crack.  I tasted the salt of my tears that had begun to flow freely by now.  Simon finally stood up to come with me when I saw Becky, a CNA, and quickly delegated the task of toileting to her.  By now it was 8:15 am and I still had 27 people to get morning medicine to.  Fuck.

I barged through my morning med pass and came to Roger again.  (Refresher: the one who thinks I’m worthless.)  I approached him with his pills and inhaler, a routine so familiar I could do it while sleeping.  Staring straight ahead, he says, “Go get Darla.”  “I’m not going to get Darla just because you’re mad at me.  I’m not making Darla do my work.”  Again, he said it.  “Go get Darla.”  “That’s really mature, Roger.”  I turned on my heels and felt the tears spring to my eyes.  I got Darla.  And poor Darla had to give that wretched man his morning and noon meds.  Because Roger thinks I’m worthless…

Somewhere in this mix (back up with Simon and the dining room fiasco…) I was being paged to the phone.  Shit!  It was a different CNA who was with a resident at an appointment “Did you fax the face sheet?”  “Ye-eees, yesterday.  Why?  What’s up?”  I did not feel good about this.  Really?  I fucking completed the extra paperwork that got sprung on me YESTERDAY for this resident’s appointment and they don’t have what they need?  I clenched my jaw.  It was then that I began feeling that my best just wasn’t good enough.  A heartbreaking feeling, really.  A melancholy tone was set for (almost) the rest of the day after that thought crossed my synapses.

Not long after the morale-aspirating morningtime madness, I went for a breath of air.  For a Mountain Dew.  And a Camel Light.  And a pep talk from my adorable boyfriend, who can make me smile in the worst of times. 

The glimmer of hope came at lunch when a lady asked me if I was feeling better.  I forced a grin and said “Yeah, actually.  Thank you.”  I walked a centimeter taller after that.  Actually, that one little comment helped cheer me back up.  At least, for a little while…

After the noon hour, I was totally feeling back on top of my game.  A little resentful at the shape the morning held but definitely in control.  Which is a satisfying feeling, one of mine to a fault.  I like autonomy and I like being knowledgeable and for some reason, to me, those are synonymous with the word control.  Hmm…  ANYways, my grip of control was slowly loosening as I’m walking down the hall with my one. last. med.  One last med to give!  What a triumphant moment.  But.  Oh, wait…. Why the hell is Connie pushing Sammy out of his room while he’s IN THE BED??  Wha…?  “Didn’t they tell you, Sammy’s moving to South Hall,” Connie tells me as I approach.  “What? I’m always the last to know!!”   At this point, flashbacks of the hours prior play in my head and I feel my shoulders slumping and hear myself sighing.  I was across the hall, gathering belongings that needed to be moved when I heard Roger telling his wife the events of this morning.  I gathered the courage to go into Roger’s room and tell his wife my side of the story.  I acknowledged my tardiness and apologized.  I also let Roger’s wife be privy to one, little GIANT, detail:  “You told me I was worthless.”  Mrs. Hammerstein looked appalled.  “You do not talk to her like that!”  The two started bickering (which was totally not my goal) and I made an exit.  I asked my Director of Nursing to please mediate the situation.  When I made eye contact with her I noticed that both mine and her eyes were glossy from a recent cry.  Stress doesn’t even explain half of what I was feeling.  I was just about numb.

Well, 2:00 pm rolled around and I relinquished the floor to Tiffany, the evening nurse.  During report I was able to turn my hurt and anger into crude puns and funny jokes and I felt better.  I was laughing and started to shrug the day off.  And all of the things I was looking forward to coming home to were flashing in my mind: ‘Ooh, yeah, that’s right!  I’m making baked potatoes for supper! Yum…’ and ‘There’s that full bottle of White Shiraz in the fridge!’ and ‘NEW EPISODE OF BONES IS ON TONIGHT!!’  Yes, it is true.  All is not lost.  I’ve flicked the last “ant” off of my picnic blanket.  I have completely left the shitty** day at the workplace.  I left knowing that I did my best and even though Roger refuses to believe it, some of my favorite residents tell me so.  Every day.  But that’s another story…



* All resident names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.  As if you think I’d be stupid enough to violate HIPAA.  Ha.

** Shitty as in literally, shitty.  I manually extracted a large BM from somebody today.  Oh, manually extracted?  In laymen’s (how the fuck do you spell that, btw?) terms? Dug out.  Yep, I said it.  It’s a dirty word with a shitty meaning.

In case you’re wondering what the moral of this 1532 word story is… Don’t be ANTS AT A PICNIC and have a good Thursday night!

2 thoughts on “Ants at a Picnic

  1. Nanna says:

    Jinkees!!! Been there, honey.

  2. Joe says:

    Well, hopefully a lot of the weight was pulled off your shoulders after you vented about it here. I know that blogging is pretty therapeutic for me, so maybe it is for you too.

    And, HA! You totally narc’ed Roger out to his wife! Way t’go!

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