Lori from the midnight shift. Oh, how we worry about you. And believe me, there is a lot to worry about. She told us all about it.
You see, Lori is on her fifth 12-hour shift back-to-back. She has two kids at home, and she's not seen them in five days because work has been so demanding, and she's had to cover for another nurse because she got the flu, and there's a wedding she's supposed to attend this weekend, but she's probably not going to make it because the hospital scheduled her for -- LORI, IT IS THREE IN THE FUCKING MORNING.
Every time she entered the room, my mind did this.
Every time we saw Lori, we heard about a new catastrophe in her life. And when she exhausted those stories, she moved on to her neighbors' catastrophes. That's not a joke. By around 6 a.m. at the start of day two, she was telling us about her neighbor's kid who was probably going to be held back a year in school because his reading wasn't up to par.
Really? That's too bad. Maybe you should pull out an entire set of encyclopedias and read them to him in one sitting. Because you obviously have a severe mental problem that prevents you from throttling your conversation down to just the things we give a shit about: 1) Where are Emily's meds? 2) When can she leave? 3) How long do you wait after an appendix removal before it's OK to fuck? 4) Is anal OK? 5) Will a penis this size reach the appendix? Here, let me show you.
Apparently Lori, pushed to the brink by the demands of her job, had no one else to talk to. Like a lonely cowboy confiding his worries to the cattle as he rustles them along, knowing they're not listening, but needing to get it out.
Everything I've told you so far doesn't even compare to the worst Lori of all. That's the one who tells you exactly what you want to hear, even though she knows for a damn fact that it's bullshit. Sometimes, it's something small like, "This won't hurt a bit" before she jams an ice pick into your arm. Other times, it's something that's devastating to your morale and recovery.
That's the one we had right after we got settled for the first night's stay. Emily had developed so much pain, and the medication wasn't cutting it. When she told the nurse, Lori explained that they inflate your abdomen with a gas when they're doing the surgery, and it was trapped air bubbles. And even though it hurts like hell right now, they pass pretty quickly in the form of farting. She said within a few hours, the bubbles would pass and so would the pain.
The next morning, not only did they not go away, but she was in even more pain than the night before. Emily told the surgeon what Lori had told her, and the guy looked at her like she had just said that she was promised a third arm to be attached to her asshole.
He said that half of that wasn't even remotely true. The gas was most definitely causing the pain, but it doesn't just go away on its own, and it absolutely doesn't come out from your ass. You have to walk it out. The movement causes the bubbles to work their way up, and then they just dissipate through the skin. But laying there and waiting for them to just go away was about the worst thing a patient could do. Kind of important, because as it turns out, if we had known that right off the bat, they could have had her up and walking within just an hour or two after surgery.
While I encouraged her from a more comfortable position.
The bullshit information she passed on combined with the lack of information from the other Lori, ended up causing us to stay an additional day (and if we'd been among the uninsured, that extra day would be like buying a used car). Because Lori has reached a point where there's no time or energy to double check these things. You give whatever answer will make the patient stop asking things.
Do I blame her? I don't know. If all of this makes it sound like I think I could do any of these Loris' jobs differently, you're right. I would be patient and efficient and as sympathetic to each patient as I am to my own family ... for about 10 minutes. Then I would throw a water cooler through a window and go running off, screaming into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
That is, I know it's easy for me to judge, now away from that place and standing here behind my new rolling computer cart. So let me say, thank God somebody has the patience and endurance to do the Lori jobs, or else we'd all have to stay home and try to heal ourselves with witchcraft. I realize these people are burnt out, like cops cracking jokes over the mutilated body of a teenage girl. The part of your brain that cares just runs down like a battery.
You have my sympathy, Loris. You really do. But know that you pretty much make every stay at the hospital a living hell.