Nursing week is winding down, the treats fade away for another year. The glamour remains or so many think. Most common reaction when people learn I am an operating room nurse is “how exciting” or “how cool is that” but really it’s a lot more complex than excitement. When there is that element and the adrenalin is pumping it’s usually not a good sign at all for your patient. And that’s why we stand around in lead aprons, masks and gowns for hours on end or clean up a code brown and yes that is exactly what you think it is and no I don’t have photos of it.
We do it for the patients. Perhaps it does take a special type of person and/or nurse as not everyone sticks around. There are no real perks to the job: we work evenings, weekends and stay at work for 16 hours at a time on a bad shift. We are, often forgotten, when thanks are handed out although occasionally a patient’s family will send a card or cookies. We are the somewhat invisible keeper of the sterile field and we do it because it feels right. It’s our calling to organize, monitor and assist.
The OR is kind of a “one of” sort of work place. It’s not like anyone can come and watch through a window to decipher what we are up to. Only on Gray’s do they have overhead viewing areas and real life just isn’t like that here. I did do a post about life in the OR when we were on our medical mission in Haiti. Behind the Closed Door is an inside look into the life of an OR nurse. I reviewed it today and felt that it was well written and gives a sense of the many complex aspects we balance in a day.
Now, just home from an evening shift, I settle in for a night of call. I’ve long since gotten over the “joys” of being on call and for the $16 we get paid for a 8 hour shift it’s paltry reason to sleep with half an ear out for the phone. But perhaps someone’s life will hang in the balance tonight and we will be needed; that’s the real reason why we can become instantly awake and hit the doors running.
PS I know people want to see more pics of Haiti — I’ve been working through some technology issues so hopefully soon.