The Apes at Work

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     Sometimes, it’s easy to feel a little worn down at work. After a hard day of giving it all I’ve got and then some, I’m no stranger to the feeling of trudging home in a lead suit whilst a rusty dagger plunges through my feet with every weary stride. To reap big reward, I suppose,  one must offer up big sacrifice. This is especially true in the health care arena.
     The layperson may not know this, and I hate to ruin our public image, but hospitals are full of apes that love nothing more than to ride on the backs of health care workers.  These animals are of all shapes and sizes and are sometimes, very dangerous. They climb and cling and scratch and howl at us every single day. The trick is to find a way to relieve yourself of this belligerent band of baboons before you return to your own beloved brood at home. In case you don’t get my dilemma, allow me to illustrate a typical day in my shoes. (Can be adapted to most any health care worker’s day, these are just my personal regular monkeys.)

0500
Call the floor to do staffing. We are a nurse short with a full census due to illness. A monkey runs up my leg and snuggles into my flannel pajama pocket.

0630
Arrive to work. Two CNAs today. YAY! They hate each other and can’t get along. Sigh. Here comes another monkey. He’s a screamer.

0700
Call other departments to see how many beds will be needed for admits. Admits > empty beds. Monkey.

0730
My “walkie talkie” patient can’t keep a decent oxygen level. Call respiratory. Throw them a monkey. “You’re welcome”

0900
My patients home meds were entered wrong. I hear chittering.
I have to confirm with their pharmacy because they shouldn’t be taking “extended release” three times a day. Call our pharmacy to correct it. Call doc. Get attacked by a signing chimp. He angrily signs at me a sign I most often see while in traffic.

1000
“Walkie talkie” is breathing regularly,  but didn’t get breakfast. Call kitchen. The order isn’t in. Put in order for “regular frickin, diet.” Deliver it personally. Patient still pissed. A monkey sits on my head and shits.

1200
Forgot to do my blood sugars and surgery is on hold needing to give report. Trays are here. I’m hungry. I have to pee. Two people want pain meds. One patient got the wrong tray. One got no tray. Every other nurse is in the same shape I’m in. Also, administration, looking well-groomed and collected in their fancy suits, is doing a drive-by. “We’re doing great boss, never mind this silver back mountain gorilla happily perched on my left shoulder. It’s totes cool.”

1300
“Walkie talkie” is found in the floor. They just wanted to go to the bathroom alone. They now have a bruised butt and a respiratory rate of 44. Pick them up along with a couple of wrestling howler monkeys. I then go get the paperwork.

1500
Notice the next shift is desperately short staffed on the schedule. Try to call in help for them. However, I didn’t try to call the other monkey that leaped onto me like I’d like to do to a bacon cheeseburger right about now.

1630
Next shift calls to do staffing. Holds me personally responsible for their lack of help tonight. “But did you call the president and see if he could help?”
Judging by what one of the monkeys are doing to the gorilla, he must be into hefty ladies.

1900
Report off my patients,  heard about what all I should have gotten done, but didn’t. Time to get out of here.

The animals are climbing over one another to get on top of my head. It’s like the discovery channel is airing a WWE match. The screeching is ringing from inside my skull and echoing up the dismal walls of the stairwell as I desend. I begin to reflect on my day. I focus first on the face of the man I spent maybe too much time listening to about his now grown children. My foot lightens as a primate releases his death grip on my ankle. I envision my surgery patient finally resting when we got her pain managed. The poo thrower scampers away. I remember how respiratory had my back when my patient couldn’t breathe, how the aide and I worked together as we delicately washed the body of the recently deceased, and how my fellow nurse made me laugh in the middle of the storm of multiplying demands. Hairy bodies fly out of my car windows as I speed down winding roads. By the time I get home, I still reek of the simian circus. I’m still strewn with hair and feces and fleas. My ears still ring and my back still aches. But, I can tickle my son and embrace my husband without fear that the apes at work will latch onto them and damage my home.