(yawn) Yesterday was one of those days. One of those work shifts that is mind-numbing and emotionally draining, marked by a whole lotta patients that aren't really all that sick, but who are high-maintenance in any of a number of ways: from the grandmas who can't poop (enemas are sooooo not why I became a nurse) to the seekers who feign things that actually could be real to the point where we have to do the workup and give the meds until it's all negative and we shake our heads at having fed the bears again. Then there are the entitled ones, whether or not they're actually sick, they feel they have the right to bitch and moan about waiting too long and "people who got here after me are leaving already" and "can't you rush this test because I've been here five hours and I haven't eaten" and then think its okay to yell at the people who are busting their asses to help you. Nope. This ain't Burger King, sister. Have a seat and have it my way.
There were bright spots, like the cranky old guy with pneumonia whose reply to my 'What brings you in tonight?' was 'I'm dying.' Not on my watch, sir. I have such a soft spot for grumpy old men, cantankerous old codgers, the ones who mutter under their breath and scowl at me and grudgingly offer their flabby arms for IV's and say things like 'When am I gonna get the hell outta here?' in gravelly voices and hear so poorly I have to shout. I love those guys - but they can only get away with it if they're old.
There was variety, too, from the parking lot code which turned out not to be a code at all, but a patient who seized and took a digger on the curb (why don't we stock a few basic items like 4x4 gauze and tape on crash carts, we wondered...). There were the usual drunks and psychs and particularly the guy who went apeshit in the waiting room and had to be taken down and restrained right there in the hallway where everybody could hear him screaming obscenities and threats and so forth.
But as usual, it was all pervaded by a team spirit, a commiseration, a shared look in the hallway, a let-me-watch-your-patients-while-you-go-get-some-chocolate that makes it all okay. And that right there is why I love working in the ER.