I swear – one of these days I’m going to go temporarily insane and take my pager and smash it with a great big sledge hammer until it completely loses it’s ability to beep!
I’m on call tonight (this morning? what time is it? what day is it?) – – did you guess?
It’s been one horrific night on call, let me just say. I worked my normal hours today from 8am – 4:30pm – – then on-call for the night started at 4:30. My first page came at 4:45. The beeper hasn’t stopped since. Once, earlier – around 1am, I finally stripped down and settled myself into bed. I just got all comfy..curled up with Chris on one side and my full length body pillow on the other. I was just hitting that blissful edge of sleep….and the damn thing did it again.
Ignore it, I thought. I’m only human…how much can a person take in a day? That little devil on my right shoulder kept whispering…..pssst! ignore it – it’ll go away.
I didn’t ignore it. All grumpy, tired and disheveled – – I wrapped myself up in sheet and headed to my office to make the phone call. One of our patient’s died and I needed to go. He lives 1 hour away from here. Made a cup of coffee – – put it in a go cup, and off I went. Still grumpy, still tired – – not quite as dishevelled….oh, and I left the sheet at home and opted for customary clothing.
I got to the patient’s house and his wife was waiting for me on the porch. I approached and she stood – – then simply crumbled in my arms and cried. She had been alone with him since our nurse left 2 hours ago….and held his hand while he died. She spent so many weeks being strong, holding it together…holding it in – the floodgates just let go when I arrived.
I had never met her before. I never knew her husband. He was the patient of another nurse. But she was tired. Exhausted. Sad. I hugged her and we talked for a good long time before I called the funeral home for transport.
Somehow – amid the tears, hugs, talks and maybe even a few smiles prompted by pleasant memories – – I lost my grumpy face…I wasn’t tired anymore and my pager didn’t seem like my sworn enemy any longer.
I spent about 2 1/2 hours with her before I left. On my drive home – I’m thinking it’s times like these that really give you that reality boost that things can always be worse that what they seem to be at the time…and thanked my lucky stars that I had Chris and the kids to come home to in a house filled with warmth and comfort.
Next time I’m on call – – I’m sure I’ll forget those feelings when it’s 1am and my pager is beeping incessantly and I’m closing in on the edge of temporary insanity and searching for that sledge hammer…but….what I like about this job so much is that it brings me back into reality with incredibly humbling moments like this one. It offers me a view of humanity that I’ve not been afforded elsewhere….complain as I may about my boss, about office politics and my pager – – when it boils right down to it, I do love this job.
Going back to bed now….keeping sledge hammer handy.