Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Rural hospital diaries, vol. 1


I walk to emergency to pick up my next patient. All I know is that he needs to have his knee x-rayed.
As is my custom, I ask him what happened. 
"Oh, I got a horn to my knee."
Huh
Seeing my uncomprehending face, he elaborates further: "From a bull. I'm a bull rider."


And that's why I love my job at a small town hospital.

It's different from anything I have ever done. While I have always lived in small towns, I have never been in one that's quite so - Stars Hollow-esque

Stars Hollow with a decidedly Western twist, that is. 
I love it. 

I've met plenty of cowboys, Indians (excuse the politically incorrect expression), and people who are just different.  In the best and most fascinating way possible. 
I've talked to an electrician who works up north in camps I've only ever read about: Rugged, dangerous, highly paid.
I met a nurse who works so close to the Alaskan border, that her normal rotation is a 2-weeks-on, 6-weeks-off deal. Pretty sweet, right?
I had a drug addict who refused to take her clothes off, and when I finally persuaded her to do so, packets upon packets of drugs fell out of her bra. 

This town is not boring. 

I've always used to work as part of a team. It has many advantages, and I enjoy many aspects of it; but I'm an introvert, and I often found the constant interaction with co-workers exhausting. 
In this new job, I work by myself the majority of the time. And omg, how perfect is that?! 
Oh, I always have help if I need it: The emergency staff is just across the hall. And I need them frequently. They are universally nice and helpful, and I have yet to meet a nurse who gives me the eye-roll (you know the one, right?), before she deems to help me. 
They are awesome.  

But mostly, it's me and the patients. Just the way I like it. 
With just the two of us, they have confided in me about divorces, illnesses, diseased spouses, body struggles - and many more of the problems they have in their lives. I can't help them - but I'm happy to listen. And I hope that by talking about it, they will get some relief and comfort. 

This past weekend was - truly remarkable. I honestly have a hard time finding the right words to describe it, but I will try my best. 

Let's start at the end: I had coffee and cold pizza for breakfast today, at 11:00 am in the morning. That's really late for me. 

But that's just what I needed after the completely cray weekend I had at the hospital. 

Here's what went down:

Saturday:
I worked 9-5, all by myself (which is a rare shift for me, unlike for many of you - it's actually kinda weird), and it was good. Just the right amount of busy time and catching-up time. 

After 5 o'clock, I was on call. This is still a novelty to me, in the way that I carry the phone with me everywhere I go (yes, that includes the bathroom), because I'm terrified I might miss a call. 
Good thing I did: They ended up calling me in four times that evening and night. Nothing too crazy, but I did learn a couple of new jokes from a patient (warning, they are dirty - but they're "the most harmless jokes I know", according to the patient):
"Why is urine yellow and semen white?
So Trump-supporters know if they're coming or going."
(We Canadians are mostly liberal.)

The other one is worse (if you're easily offended, skip over that one):
"Why do Scots wear kilts?
So the sheep don't hear a zipper go down."

(I warned you. Shouldn't have read on; didn't I tell you?!)

Anyway, that was Saturday. 

Let's move on to 

Sunday:
Same shift (again by myself), and it was pretty chill. Sundays are all about house keeping: Cleaning, maintaining, auditing, ordering, improving. That took up most of the day. 

At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, ER called me. 
"There was a mass collision on the Coquihalla. We're expecting at least 4 ambulances. Stay put, will you?"
I was immediately at attention. "I sure will!"

Okay, now's the time to tell you a secret. 

(Don't tell anyone, okay?)

I live for that stuff. 

As soon as they told me, I was wide awake. 
Electrified. 
Adrenaline was pumping. 

It's not that I'm wishing for tragedies like that, far from it. 
More than anything, I wish that accidents wouldn't happen. I like to go home, drink wine and watch "Girls" as much as the next person. 

But accidents happen all the time.

And when they do?
I don't mind being on duty. Quite the opposite.

Your body will do something amazing when an emergency is happening and you're a vital part of it: The normal background noise is silenced; you focus purely on the task at hand. Your attention is sharpened; your usually chaotic mind becomes calm. 
All you do is focusing your attention on the person in front of you.
You won't feel hunger, thirst, or exhaustion; you are solely concentrating on the task at hand. It's incredible.

When they called me yesterday, I x-rayed patients non-stop for 4 hours straight. I consoled an upset father who missed his son's important hockey-game because of the accident; chatted with another patient about his upcoming trip to Europe, and how worried he was that he may not be able to go now (I'm pretty certain he will be going); listened to the concern of a patient who's family was also involved in the accident, and who didn't know what had happened to them (everybody turned out to be fine).
There were the stoic ones; the hysterical ones; the nervous ones; and the funny ones (my favourites!).

It was intense. 

At some point, at the nurses' urging, I called in my boss to help me, because I had been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for hours, and the flood of patients wouldn't stop. Every time I thought I was almost caught up, three more orders would print out. 

It was intense, exhausting - and exhilarating

By the time I got home, I had nothing left in me but to curl up in the fetal position and go right to sleep. 
But you know what? It was so worth it. 

I felt needed. It felt like what I did mattered

And that's my favourite part of all: Being an important part of this beautiful, small, rural hospital. 

This is all working out much better than I ever dared to hope. 



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4 comments

  1. What you're describing, the feeling of being needed, the intensity...that's the feeling most people are looking for in finding the right job for themselves. Only a few are so lucky to find it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not always like that - this was a very special couple of days in my job. That's why I wrote it down - so I'll never forget it.
      But you're right: Experiencing moments like this in one's job is so fortunate! I'm very grateful.

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  2. I love this. It sounds like a GREAT situation for you - good for the introvert who needs to work with people all day.

    What an intense day/night that was. I'm sure you're glad they're not ALL like that, but enjoyed the adrenaline rush!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, exactly! It was an incredible experience, made even better by the fact that nobody was seriously injured. But yeah, I don't know if I could handle that level of intensity even day! Having slower days in between are much appreciated.
      I really like this hospital!

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