So a month ago I jumped right off the crazy train called the Emergency Room. If I had one more patient attempt to bite, grab, insult, slap or manipulate me I was going to lose my shit.
Like, really lose my shit.
I missed my kids. I missed evenings with my husband. I missed sleep. I missed the feeling of looking forward to work. I missed not being afraid that I was unwillingly about to put in a 14 or 15 hour day that consisted of maybe a bathroom run or two, but most likely would lack the 30 minutes that I am legally entitled to, to gather my shit, refuel and feel less, I don't know STABBY before I went out to see another patient. I MISSED FEELING HUMAN.
It took a desperate trip to a primary doctor (which I previously, of course, did not have) to discuss the constant headaches, fatigue and insomnia that were plaguing me to get me to realize:
I'M ONE OF THEM.
I'M ONE OF THE NURSES THAT IS EXPERIENCING BURNOUT. IT'S A THING. IT'S AN ACTUAL THING BECAUSE I HAVE LOST MY COMPASSION. I AM ON AUTOPILOT AT WORK. WHAT USED TO GET THE ADRENALINE GOING NOW ONLY FILLED ME WITH DREAD.
So I decided to do something about it. I'm moving forward in my nursing career, and doctorate is now the operative word. That's all well and good, but in the meantime, this chick needed a change of scenery.
What am I doing now?
I have lost my mind. Because I have officially infiltrated a secret society. It's a place that few know any details of, including nurses. People wear funny clothes and hats and disappear behind doors with GIANT INTRIGUING YET TERRIFYING LETTERING ON THEM THREATENING IMMINENT DISMEMBERMENT IN THE EVENT THAT YOU CROSS THAT THRESHOLD.
I used to peek glances in this forbidden land, and gaze longingly and jealously at those strangely dressed puffy-hat people who would return to their street clothes and sashay on out of the hospital mid-afternoon to engage in life.
AND NOW I'M ONE OF THEM.
I am excited to report I am an official OPERATING ROOM CIRCULATOR NURSE.
I'm in a 12-week intensive program to learn how to be a circulator.
How's it going?
So, I know nothing. Zero.
Ten years of Emergency/Trauma/Critical Care nursing, and I am trying to learn my ABC's all over again.
But I'm in. I'M IN!! They take two new applicants a year for the Periop Program and I am blessed to be one of them. One day one of the program, our educator told me point blank:
"You know why you were one of the ones chosen? Because with your experience and judging by your personality in the interview, we don't believe you'll take any crap from the surgeons."
Oh, honey. NAILED IT.
But oh, is it a steep learning curve.
I've spent one week in orientation.
Two weeks learning instruments, sterile processing, pulling all of the supplies and equipment for the various cases.
Now I'm smack dab in two weeks of scrubbing in with the scrub techs, who are extremely knowledgable., get right up in there and assist.
After that, seven weeks of hands on with a preceptor.
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW FANATICAL O.R. PEOPLE ARE ABOUT STERILE FIELDS, STERILE STAFF, STERILE EVERYTHING?
Neither did I.
This means, that day one of scrubbing, my cohort and I were sent BACK OUT TO THE SINKS approximately NINE COMBINED TIMES to re-scrub because we just contaminated ourselves by blinking or some shit.
I scrubbed in and of course that's when my eye itched.
Like a normal person, I rubbed it.
THIS IS A REENACTMENT OF WHAT HAPPENED NEXT:
I've had to learn how to glove the surgeons which sounds SIMPLE, no?
The first five times the damn things look like this,
And there's some guy in a turban the color of raspberry jello looking at me like, "Are you effing serious with this?"
So far I have held an intestine, helped close two bellies and a scrotum, and can testify that I have never looked more ridiculous than I did today, because there were lasers in the room and of course with lasers present I needed more than just the hospital scrubs, mask, face shield, puffy hat, sterile gloves, sterile gown, shoe covers and a 20lb. lead apron (yes, ALL. AT. ONCE.). I got to wear special laser glasses, which weighed approximately seventy-four pounds (if the bride of my nose were to estimate) which, and I do NOT exaggerate, made me look EXACTLY LIKE THIS:
And, might I add, that was my exact expression as I observed the procedure in the cysto room with a friendly urologist who was more than happy to have me assist in his case. Turns out, urologists are particularly pleasant people, for people who have to look at a smorgasbord of "Urethras of the northwest valley", douse themselves in urine and are balls-deep (yep-intended) in requests for Cialis refills every freaking day.
I spent the better portion of the late morning playing a strange and very tiny version of the claw game with the urologist who would yell out, "Great catch!" when I accurately deployed the little basket at the end of the little grabber scope thingy (whose name of course I've already forgotten) and successfully nabbed another kidney stone to pull out.
Yep, I was THAT stoked.
Except for the part where we did it for 2 1/2 hours straight, me wearing every single item named above as the laser glasses pulverized the bridge of my nose and kept sliding down....but could I touch them to push them up?
Degarb. Deglasses. De-EVERYTHING. Decontaminate. Call in another 2319!! like above and start all over again.
But my excitement over my profession has returned. I feel a return of my compassion for the patients who are put to sleep and entrust themselves to our care. A profound responsibility to make sure they wake up and hopefully feel better than they did before. They won't remember me at all, they only are aware of our presence for the moments it takes to ask them their pre-op questions and get them situated on the O.R. table so they can be put to sleep. But I get to stand in the gap for them and for that I'm grateful.
And, in spite of my myriad of COMPLETE SCREW-UPS this week, I am happy to report that IT WASN'T ME OF THE TWO OF US NEWBIE O.R. FOLKS THAT PASSED OUT COLD DURING A PROCEDURE AND SPENT THE NEXT 30 MINUTES SITTING ON A FLOOR IN THE CORNER LIKE A CHILD IN TIME-OUT.
At least I have that going for me.