When I worked at the nursing home, long ago, I chose to work the night shift. I'm not sure why. It paid a little more. That didn't hurt. And I had done my clinicals during the day shift. I didn't care for the way the staff behaved during the day. The nurses were rude and lazy and the assistants were rude and lazy. To me they seemed far more concerned with getting their breaks than with getting their work done.
So I took the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. At first it was hell. But then this bond began to form between most of us. It wasn't something we really talked about. We just knew we wanted to provide better care and have better working relationships. So a group of us made it happen.
Staff members who couldn't get with the program soon left or were fired.
The night shift got better. The patients were cleaner and more comfortable. We cleaned out bedside table drawers and bathroom drawers that were filled with useless crap. Speaking of crap, I even found used toilet paper, and I'm talking used poopy toilet paper, in the drawer of a bedside table. A candy cane was in the drawer too. The patient was in a vegetative state. I don't know why in the hell anybody would give her a candy cane, and she certainly did not reach over after wiping her butt and put that toilet paper in her drawer.
Yes, night shift did better and better work because of our unspoken commitment and the bond we shared.
Yet, when we "got the report" from the charge nurse, she quite often told us about complaints from the day shift about how poor our work was. Supposedly, we spent the entire night sitting around reading the newspaper. A few people did act that way, but not many. We all took our meal breaks, but most of us did not take other breaks. There wasn't time. Our people needed us.
A few times when the day shift was very poorly staffed, like hardly anybody showed up for work, I went in to help and always regretted it. There I was, giving up my day off, and people treated me like shit -- treated me like I didn't do anything.
Haven't you fed so and so? Miss Snotty Ass asked me.
No, I replied. The charge nurse told me to do this so I'm doing it.
Miss Snotty Ass applauded sarcastically and walked away.
One time a day nurse noticed some bruises on my arms and asked how I had gotten them. Oh, I'm sure I just bumped into something. I bruise easily, I replied cavalierly.
Well, it looks, you know, like handcuffs, she said.
And I don't think she meant the pink furry kind.
I was appalled. I was Mrs. Lola Tweedledee. My husband was Dr. Iam Tweedledum. I was somebody around town. No one had ever spoken to me that way before. And it didn't really matter who I was. She had no business speaking that way to the lowliest among us. A friend of mine said to her, Lola is not that kind of a person.
That nurse got fired before long.
Then there was the day nurse who wouldn't get up off her ass and come to help me when I fell with a patient. The patient didn't seem to be hurt, Thank God, but I had hit my face on a table and had a black eye. More important, we needed to assess the patient and if she was o.k., we needed to get her in bed. She was very large and it would require several of us to get her in the Hoyer lift and in bed.
I went out and called to the nurse that I had fallen with a patient and needed help immediately. Then I started rounding up assistants to help us get the patient back into bed as long as she was not injured. The nurse said lackadaisically, Was it a fall or a lower? Meaning did I lower her to the floor or did we actually fall.
It was a fall.
She asked me again, Was it a fall or a lower?
The third time she asked me I lost it and shouted at her to get up and help. She finally unglued her ass from her chair and came down the hall. We checked out the patient with another nurse helping and determined she was not injured. She had no complaints of pain. When they were ready to put her in the Hoyer (mechanical) lift, I left the room and went to another floor where I knew one of my best colleagues was the charge nurse. I hid behind some file cabinets and burst into tears. She heard me and came to find out what was wrong. She called the HR person, who arranged for me to go home with the agreement that I would go to an occupational medicine clinic the next day to have my bruises looked at by a doctor.
I was so upset I could barely drive home.
The next time I worked my beloved 7 p. to 7 a., I told the night supervisor what had happened with the day shift nurse. She said, You're used to working with us at night.
There was something about being with a group of people at 3 a.m. and knowing we were all of one mind that brought out the best in us. That was my all-time favorite job.