Confessions of an Evening Shift Nurse
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
Can't sleep. Also kind of bummed that this is my last weekend before I head back to work. Maternity leave was fun while it lasted I guess, but I don't think I can handle much more of Thomas's jokes (if you know Thomas, you know how bad it can get). If I dwell on it too much, my separation anxiety will start acting up and before you know it, I'll be in tears thinking about leaving Devin for more than an hour.
Nursing wasn't my first career choice. I always loved learning about the human body and how it works, but I had limited options and I knew I didn't want to be a cashier in a grocery store for the rest of my life. So, after shedding blood, sweat, and tears, sleep deprivation, tons of cramming, 2 birthdays, and a marriage proposal, I finished nursing school.
For some reason, my dumb ass thought it would be a great idea to swear off day shift pretty early in my career (the very first time I worked day shift, someone legit died on me 5 minutes into the shift. Deaths suck. It's even worse when it's your first time taking a floor by yourself and you're still not completely awake). Evening shift is where all hell breaks loose. It can go from peaceful to a total shit storm in less than a second (never EVER use the word "quiet" when referring to anything in nursing).
You can think you're ahead on your med pass and then somebody falls, somebody is complaining of shortness of breath, somebody else is trying to pull an escape act, and you've got three aides being used as punching bags down the hall. Elderly people are also creatures of habit. Come down the hall 5 minutes later than you were the night before and watch, you'll get cussed up one side and down the other by the same lady that sings hymns on the front porch at sunset.
But the love from the residents and the gratitude from their families makes it all worth it. They ask about your kids and love them like their own when you bring them in (not to mention they also spoil them like they've adopted a few more grandkids). They'll give you the shirts off their backs if they thought you needed it. They make you smile and notice when you're not quite yourself. And there's no greater joy than seeing them go on and on about their glory days.
Becoming a nurse gave me another family, especially since I moved here with not a family member from back home in sight. I don't know about any other specialty, but in long term care it's so easy to get attached to someone without thinking about how long they've been on this earth. When we meet them, some of them have lived 90+ years without knowing us. Then all of a sudden, they're with us for maybe a year or less. I know it crushes us because we're so young and it seems so unfair that we only got to spend a short time with them, but it was apparently their time to go when they do pass on. It's a brutal realization and I hate it. I hate getting so attached but if I can take care of someone to the best of my ability and make them happy in their final few months or years, then that's all the satisfaction I need to be able to let them go and smile whenever I think of them. No one ever said this would be easy and I expected that. But it's always been worth it.