One of THOSE days

Have you ever had one of THOSE days?

One of the days where doing your job… The job that you love and feel called to do feel feels like a chore.  Where duties that you like are enough to make you want to gouge your eyes out and you drag your feel at every step?

That was my today.

Well, at least that is how my today turned out.

It started out like any other day doing routine morning rounds on the inpatients when I got a call about one of my sicker and more complicated patients.  They weren’t well and were asking for the attending to come see them.  Instead, they got me.

Needless to say, although we like eachother (I think) they weren’t thrilled to see me.  And I really couldn’t do very much at all to help, except hold hands (until I got yelled at because I was limited in what I could give or do until I spoke with someone else).

And thus began a roller coaster of a day.  I somehow managed to speak to every consultant involved during the course of the day, some of which have starkly different opinions and approaches, all of whom want me to in speaking with my staff have a million changes happen.  And some of them are discongruent.  And I seem to be one of the only common points of discussion except the patient.

As the day went on, I found myself caught up in a he-said she-said drama and somehow managed to get paged at least once an hour about some sort of issue with orders, a need to reassess a new symptom, talk to a new family member/team member and yet still needing to do the rest of my work.  And I still needed to complete my other regular duties (not that they are particularly heavy at the moment, but nonetheless they do exist and I missed rounding with staff on our other patients and teaching and part of clinic due to this important, but relatively non-life threatening conglomerate of events…)

Normally, I would take all of this in stride.  But, by noon, I was frustrated with being pulled in different directions, tired of having to go back to that floor every time I tried to leave and annoyed… Not with the patient or their family or the team, none of this is within their control (one might argue the team could do better, but it is really complicated), but with the whole package and with myself for being annoyed.  I began to feel resentment at whomever was the source of my pages.  A little voice inside my head wanted to yell “No, I don’t want to go up and reassess the patient!”

But, I didn’t do that.   I took a deep breath and prayed for the patient and for myself.  Then, I smiled and ploughed on.  There was a lot of fake it until you make it happening on my end today.

I feel awful when I don’t want to see patients or when I get annoyed with people calling me.  It is my job and it is their job.  I try not to show it ever and it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, it really can be a struggle. Sometimes calls or duties that are not necessary happen.  Sometimes you work with people who you don’t always enjoy spending time with.  Neither of these sometimes were in this situation, this was more of a sheer volume and confusion thing.   And often, it snowballs and the feelings get more intense if I don’t do something to calm down and regain perspective.

Was I the picture of perfect?

Nope.  I sighed and occasionally rolled my eyes while writing notes.  At one point I contemplated throwing my pager out the window.

By the time the afternoon was starting to come to a close, I thought I was in the clear.  But, then I had to go do a procedure.  Which, of course, like the trend of my day was not without complication and then a page from my staff wanting to see the patient immediately after (which turned out to be longer than they would have liked).

This all made me think of this song by (one of Patrick’s favourites) Mark Schultz… Including the getting the name wrong piece… One of the staff I work with is convinced my name is Krista, no matter what I tell him.

I would like to say I was never so happy to go home, but as it turns out, I was on call.  I missed the last shuttle to the other hospital, so I had to power walk with all of my stuff.  Where it has been busy since my arrival up to right now.

But again, there is something to be said about keeping my cool.

I know the nurses appreciate it.  And as irritated the patient and family are with the circumstance, they probably prefer me to be calm and pleasant (I hope anyway…).  And I always appreciate people who are nice, especially if I expect them to start getting annoyed.

The day is far from over.  And, to be completely honest, I want nothing more right now but to go home and curl up in the fetal position next to my husband. However, I look at it like this… I am usually happy.  I love what I do.  It was a bad day and things like that happen.  I remind myself I did my best.

I am far from perfect.  I know I wear my emotions on my face.  I have been told that before.  So, I am sure someone along the way picked up on my frustration or angst or fatigue.  And sometimes I overcompensate.  But, I like to think I was still helpful and open and wiling to try at a times (and they were multiple today) where I could have thrown in the towel or avoided the situation.

Tonight, I still feel on edge.  I still feel bitter about a ton of things that happened.  I also feel good about some of the things that happened.  About what I learned.  About the progress we made, even if it felt small.

But, the cool part of it all is that this is just one day in a million. There will be other bad days, but there will be many more okay days and some awesome days too.

The other cool part is how great God is at getting me through the suckyness without gouging out someone’s eyes.

Without Him, I would never have the patience or the perseverance to deal with stuff.  As strange as it may sound to some of you “Trisha is all crazy and Jesus-freaky sometimes” folks, the brief pause to say a prayer is time to gather myself.  And my premorbid personality is such that I get annoyed with inefficiency, disorganization and complaining, three things that today was full of.  So, without big changes that have taken place in my life, this would have been much worse.

I also firmly believe that God acts in some of the tough situations to help work things out.  Can I prove it?  Not especially, but I still believe it (maybe I am crazy, or maybe I have seen some pretty weird things work out the right way).

And God keeps my perspective right.  Again, this is something people can do without God, but I like having Him in the equation, I think it makes it easier.  But, I try to see people how God might.  With love, with respect and I try to treat them as such, even when I don’t want to.  It is hard.

I guess you could say I tried to Golden Rule-it-up today by treating others how I wanted to be treated.  And some of them treated me nicely back… Even though their days were clearly going poorly too.  Funny how that works?!

Sometimes, I think people need a V-8 (remember those V-8 commercials where people would smash others on the forehead?  No… Well, I do.).  It isn’t always my place to give it.  And some days, I do too.   And sometimes there doesn’t seem to be anyone to crack me on the head.  So, you get through it and carry on.

When you love what you do, when it is a calling, not just a career, having one of THOSE days is not enough to make you want to quit, but it is enough to require you to take a step back and breathe (and possibly consider taking up some bad for you habit as a vice), but then carry on happily (maybe not quite that same day, but a few days later).

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8 thoughts on “One of THOSE days

  1. We all have days like that. Sometimes I find that taking a quick walk outside and a deep breath helps. I’m glad you powered through in one piece! Onto tomorrow!

      • I too have contemplated, many times, throwing the pager out the window. Instead, it has been thrown against the wall (twice for two call nights that shall never ever be discussed!).

        If you can take a breather and seg out of the moment for a bit, it does help. Prayer is wonderful for re-organizing our emotions and priorities, and He does help us in managing to get through the thick of those particularly difficult times.

        We all have those days…sometimes once a week or a month, but the balance of our work is ultimately in the positive, or, at least I like to think it is.

        Hope your call night was decent. Remember, PGY2 call is much better and then HOME-CALL for the program. Woot woot!!

      • I haven’t thrown it at the wall, although I did accidentally step on it attached to my bag while doing a paracentesis yesterday (I may have felt some internal smug satisfaction). Good thing pagers here are more durable than the one I had as a med student.

        My call night was decent. Thank goodness! Some sleep tonight will make a world of difference, but a latte on the way to half-day today helped too!

  2. From a nurse: you may feel like sticky gum stuck between the shoe and the cement pavement, but we appreciate you, and know how it feels to be smashed between a rock and a hard place. I am a pediatric dialysis nurse specialist, and my worst call wasa 24 hour period where an emergent call went into insanity. I didn’t bring any money, so I had to power through with no food, 7 months pregnant and, unknown to me, in liver failure. Can you believe the cafeteria refused to give a pregnant nurse food with an IOU? I sat in a chair in ICU while the docs (bless them) put my feet up and helped me dialyze a critical patient. Sometimes teams can work together well if we remember our humanity. But, to your point, it seems to be a universal that different specialties don’t talk to each other and the nurse communicates the synopsis to the family. When did that ever get to be the accepted practice? Why cant services put patient’s first and ego’s second? Your points on prayer are appreciated. The worst of me comes out at work, and I don’t stop and pray before Letting My Opinion Be Known on some issue that is either causing delay or political (HATED word).

    • I like your sticky gum analogy. Very appropriate!
      That is a crazy call! I can’t believe the cafeteria wouldn’t feed you… And yet somehow it also didn’t surprise me. It is wonderful how the rest of the team helped you out. I love it when stuff like that actually works out.
      I must say, experienced nurses and RTs and such are my superheroes because many times they help me in SO MANY ways! That is why I totally don’t get why people talk around the patient and then leave others, like the nurses and junior residents to try to explain it all. We all have our niches and roles, but nowhere does it say the nurse is to explain what the heck is happening behind the scenes all the time. In fact, I am a firm believer that the first person to break that kind of news should be the person making that decision. It is much better to have everyone on the same page. Plus, that way if someone has to go back and re-explain it, they know what was originally planned or stated. Or at least keep the patient and team understanding better why everyone is not quite on the same page.

      • I so agree! Unforetunately, nurses are seen as non-threatening, so we get the big picture from all the services, then have to explain to each one of them what the other said. In part it’s our fault. We just need to say, Talk To Rheumatology, or whoever. An initiative in my hospital called “let’s talk” was started trying to change this, but change is hard when miscommunication has been allowed to fester for so long.

      • It is so much easier sometimes to just give a synopsis of what you were told!
        People here are thankfully more insistent on talking directly to services, unfortunately it is more because of a big problem of consultants not talking to the nurses or the covering physician, so someone has to find out the details not laid out in the note. It is so difficult to bring about change once a culture is in place.

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