Sunday, September 19, 2010

The ebb and flow of ICU nursing

Halona Sunrise

It almost frightens me to say so (especially since as I write this I have one more 12 hour shift left tomorrow) but work has been good this week. *knock on wood* Any ICU nurse knows that you don't dare jinx things by saying something like "man, it's been quiet here today!"
The next thing you will hear is "CODE BLUE" blaring over the loud speakers. Still, I'm taking a risk and just acknowledging how thankful I am to be in an upswing at work. It's been steadily busy but not crazy and we have had a lot of good people on staff this week. No issues with the on call ICU docs (miracle I tell you) and in fact this month has been good so far. Last month was great also so we've really been on a roll with our ICU team. I also think it really makes a difference when you have good nursing staff on your side. I've been working with my favorite people recently which has been nice... and sometimes that one factor will determine whether it is a good or bad day.

I was able to take a training class on CVVH or continuous veno-venous hemofiltration on Tuesday and I was resource yesterday which was nice. I've been getting back into my training schedule in terms of running. Unfortunately my running injury has begun to flare up. I'm biting the bullet and looking up some sports medicine doctors in my area who might be able to help out. Very important considering I have only a few weeks left before I run my first 1/2 marathon!!

This past weekend I spent time editing photos and sort of winding down from a really draining two weeks. Before I left for Hawaii I had already been feeling like I needed some good down time by myself and it wasn't until this past week that I started getting that. Being as introverted as I am its so vital for me to have time to stop and reflect and process, because when I am around people... even people I love a lot... it takes a ton of energy and I don't ever really get to stop and feel refreshed from my crazy life.
Halona Sunrise

It's been just over a year now that I've been working as an ICU nurse and even in that short time I have seen the ebb and flow of this job wash over me. There are good days and bad and sometimes they may even turn into good and bad months. I remember my preceptor last year warning me about this.

"You will go through phases of burn out in your job... that is normal and eventually things will get better. You learn to adjust and you learn how to take care of yourself properly so you can function the best way possible... even in the midst of a burn out. When you are not able to shake out of that funk and when you begin compromising patient care... that's when you know it's time to move on."
Wise words that I have taken with me and remembered in the tough moments and have been thankful for when it feels like the bad days just won't end.
Waimea Bay

Today I am taking care of a patient who was placed on comfort care this afternoon. Other than cardiac patients, these are probably my favorite patients to have. I know it sounds strange to enjoy taking care of a dying patient, but there is something incredibly peaceful about death despite the sadness. There are few things in life more impacting than being able to be present when someone passes. To be able to give them dignity in dying and to be able to make every effort for their comfort in their last moments on this Earth... it is an honor and it is in these moments that I remember... this is what nursing is all about.
Halona Sunrise

P.S. I'm totally kicking myself now because I'm at work on that last 12 hour shift I was talking about... no joke... not 5 minutes into my shift we were coding a patient and it was a little bit of a nightmare... after an emergency intubation, CPR, 2 rounds of epi., 2 rounds of bicarb and 2 shocks from the defibrillator we finally got the guy back....
hah... I really gotta stop jinxing myself.

Oh the joys of ICU  nursing.....


Halona Sunrise


  1. The pictures, as always, are stunning my dear.
    What did you injure running? How bout sports chiro/physio? I'm so excited for your half marathon!!
    I'm glad work has been going well. I definitely agree that your co-workers make a huge difference. For me anyways, they can completely change my attitude (good or bad, although I'm not proud someone can influence my mood in such a negative way) and outlook on work very quickly.

  2. love your words and love your pics!! just beautiful...