Saturday, September 10, 2005

Playing hooky and practice issues...

I need reassurance that what I did was the right thing to do.

It took me over five hours to get home last night from work. What would normally be a 45-minute commute turned into a hell of gridlock thanks to highway construction, people running out of gas, and some genius who miscalculated both the speed of the cement truck next to him and how fast the highway would run out.

Suffice it to say that for five hours I was stuck on a highway in a spot without exits or turnarounds for fifteen miles.

I got home after midnight and called in to work for today. Normally I'd attempt a day on four hours' sleep, with a few naps, but that's not an option at La Schwankola Hospital. You can't nap when you have lumbar drains open.

The Guilt Chip that was installed in my head midway through school is firing full-strength. It's not that we're short-staffed--we've got plenty of people to cover--or that I doubt that I wouldn't be safe, showing up way underslept.

It's that I feel like I ought to be SuperNurse, able to work with *no* sleep (which is better than short sleep), even though I'm sick, even if I've got a broken leg.

My practice would be unsafe were I at work today. That's a given. So I called in. Please, somebody, reassure me that nurses working short of sleep is just as bad as doctors doing it. Reassure me that if I have the choice not to practice if I'll be dangerous, the right thing is to make that choice.

Back to bed.


Anonymous said...

long time lurker. I'm glad you stayed home. When I think of all the times I've been a patient I know I have always wanted nurses who were fully conscious!

love your blog btw and was very moved by the link you posted to nurses' stories about helping hurricane victims.


Anonymous said...

You were smart to stay home. I knkow how I am on little or no sleep, and I just don't feel right putting my patients at risk like that.

Once I called in and told my boss I didn't get enough sleep to function properly, and she was pissed off at me. Too bad.

Good call.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah ... you have not just the right, but the responsibility, to call in when you know they'll be better off without you. God, I wish we were able to be kinder to ourselves, and turn that guilt chip off.

Anonymous said...

The one time I needed a nurse? After my abdominal surgery? And I was too woozy to scream in pain but I was, you know, in a lot of pain? And I got the shot of Demerol and then I had to throw up and I was too sick to stand up by myself so she had to help me? And then I was heaving so hard she had to hold me up? I would have been really pissed if she'd been so sleepy that she'd dropped my head into the toilet bowl.

This is also known as "You cannot take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself." Quit being Presbyterian and go back to bed.


Anonymous said...

No one deserves an occasional day off more than a nurse. Guilt be gone!

UnsinkableMB said...

There have been plenty of studies that show that it is just as dangerous to drive a car when you're sleep-deprived as it is driving drunk. I would think that would apply to take care of an ailing human being. You did the responsible thing! Hope you get some well-deserved rest!

Anonymous said...

It would have been the right thing to do even if they were short.

We don't have desk jobs. Lives are often in our hands. Not taking that seriously is the thing that would be wrong.

shrimplate said...

It was a good decision.

Anonymous said...

It really can feel different calling out sick when you're charge. As a charge nurse myself, I know I do feel more guilt, because we do answer to a higher standard. I'm not saying that's right or fair. That's just the way it is. So if I'm not Spot On for whatever reason, I will stay home too. It might be true that a relief charge nurse may not be as effective/affective as you yourself would be even in a sleepy/sick state, but that person doesn't have all of the other expectations the floor nurses have of you. It's better to stay home, recuperate, and be Spot On the next time.

And besides, just think of all that skin you can get moisturized with a night off :-) --eric

Anonymous said...

Me again. How about this: if you give in to the guilt and go to work when you *know* you're impaired, you're being self-indulgent. Try *that* on the Presbyterian whispers in your head.

Anonymous said...

You said that a sleep-deprived nurse is as bad as a sleep deprived doc. I have to disagree. Girl, you do the WORK. If I write a screwy order, a good nurse will be all over me to make it right. Without a on-the-ball nurse, your patient's goose is surely cooked.

Do not beat yourself up. You did the right thing!!!

Now go back to bed!! That's an order!!


Kit said...

I get the same thing when I call in ill. But when I'm coughing/snotting up stuff that is quite green and I'm around people who are immunocompromised, I tell myself that I would feel way more guilty if I made them even more sick than they already are.

Case in point: one day I DID attend work while hacking/coughing/sniffling. I came back to the same unit a few days later (I'm part time and in a pool) and 3/4 of the patients were on antibiotics. Now, I'm a fastidious nurse, cough into my arm, wash my hands after every time I blow my nose, but I could swear that wasn't just coincidence.

You did well to take care of yourself. Think of the patients you did not compromise.

Raspil said...

remember. you're a human being. not a superhero. none of us are. so chill. don't let the guilt win.

Kim said...

As a long time night nurse I can certainly vouch for your call. Nothing more to add that the above comments didn't already say.....

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Zenyatta said...

Think off all the "free" time you have accrued because of meals not taken, and the elusive "2 fifteen minute breaks" that never seem to happen. That's what I use to rationalize my descion in situations like this. Shit happens and as it's already been said you need to take care of yourself so that you are well enough to take care of others. Live to fight another day.