I stumble out of bed and almost fall backward at the sight of my early evening reflection. It’s starting to get dark outside, but the sun is just saying goodbye, and the bedroom light makes me question if I need a degree and checkout work is that bad.
I start my hair and makeup for the night deciding which eyeshadow makes me look more perky and awake but the Saturday night drunks won’t find too appealing. I pack my freshly ironed uniform into my bag knowing full well it’ll be crease city by the time I arrive for my nightshift.
My mentor stays close by so kindly picks me up to take me for our exciting night ahead. We mull over the ‘highlights’ from the previous shift which ranges from the girl who came to us because she nipped her ankle shaving to the man with the toothbrush stuck up his bum and waited until his wife went to bed to come to us.
We pull into the busy carpark and sigh at the sight of three police cars and an ambulance crew at the main entrance. The thing with the Saturday nightshift is that you don’t just have the Saturday night bumpers, you have the Friday night ones have woken up and went ‘shit, I should probably have that gaping wound looked at.’ We huddle into the small changing room and fill our pockets with the essentials for the night, have a quick cuppa and off we go to assigned to either triage, resus or the corridor.
My mentor and I are assigned to the corridor, meaning we look after the patients waiting to be assessed by one of our doctors. In room one, I walk in with a fresh blanket and gown to see a drunk man pissing in the sink, and the look on my face was probably his indicator to put it away. In the space of five minutes, he called me sweetheart, tried to sit back on the bed (failed) and tries to grab my boob grinning like a gumsy Cheshire cat. My mentor had words I think, when I left the room to get him a commode and came back he was lying in bed looking like a child sat on the naughty step.
After sorting out the drunken sailor next door, I walk in to do some observations on the lady in the next room who has had a fall as well as four others in the past three months. A lovely appreciative lady who almost makes me feel a bit more appreciated after the previous groping session, her only request being a cup of tea and a biscuit which I happily run and get.
While on my quest for tea and biscuits a dad in the minor injuries area is asking me if his three year old can jump the queue with a small laceration to her head because shockingly, they have been waiting twenty minutes. Appalling.
When I return with a cup of tea and a biscuit for my fall risk lady, I consider giving it to her intravenously because moments later she is whisked away to X-Ray.
After tending to the other rooms and hastily doing ECG’s on chest pain patients I have finally earned a quick sit down and a bottle of Irn Bru. It’s not a relaxing break because I am sitting trying to enjoy my irn bru and some toast while a consultant sits next to me with some avocado/salad monstrosity.
When I come back from my break, I am stopped by a drunk man who has fallen and hit his head but insists he does not need to lie down (he does need to lie down). He then asks if I am on Tinder, I have a boyfriend and if I can lie down with me. I only answer with a no thank you.
Over the speaker, an announcement is called out – adult standby to resus, ETA five minutes. A man has been knocked off his motorbike and has had a seizure while in the ambulance with no previous seizure history. My mentor allows me to go along and help, I try my best to do jobs without any guidance and not to get in the way. I set up an oxygen mask, run some fluids through and grab some gloves.
We move him from the paramedic slide on the bed, to safely do this it takes seven of us, and even with that, the man grunts in pain. With the nurses and doctors running around taking blood and attaching the fluids and oxygen I have set up, I grab some face wipes and clean his face while asking him about relatives and previous medical history.
The speaker puts out another announcement – Adult medical standby, ETA five minutes. What feels like moments later a senior woman is brought in on a trolly with her eyes closed and apparent breathing difficulty.
There was difficulty in finding a pulse and even the monitor could not get a reading. My mentor set up some oxygen, and someone called the crash team as my mentor, and I connected the defibrillator.
The defibrillator showed a sinus rhythm, which from the brief glimpse I caught of it did not appear regular. The crash team turned up in minutes and assessed the patient, they inserted an airway, setting up the bag-valve-mask and oxygen, while they got to work injecting adrenaline I started chest compressions. You are always told that those three minutes are so much time and exhausting, but to me, I felt like I blinked, and my mentor was telling me to stand back to administer a shock.
After failing to resuscitate the patient, we all went for some peace to have lunch and let other staff contact the patients family. We sit almost in silence for half an hour, and it is bliss.
I start to feel relatively normal after being round in resus. My mentor and I let the triage nurse go for her lunch, so we attend to the twenty-three-year-old who has been found unconscious surrounded by bottles of vodka. My mentor and I try to gain a response, but there is none, and when I try to assess her eyes she squeezes them shut so that I can’t see them. At this point my mentor tells her, we need to check her blood pressure, but when we try to lift her up the bed, so she isn’t hurting her neck, she opens her eyes and punches me in the nose.
After the minor injuries nurse checks my nose and we use up her small supply of sterile swabs cleaning me up, I am sent for my last break of the evening.
I sit with my digestive biscuit and my swollen nose feeling very sorry for myself. Another nurse comes and cuddles me before putting on the telly for us both to laugh at before going back to the chaos.
I go to check on my drunken sailor in room one, and he is lying awake in his bed with that big gumsy smile again. He then gives me a massive lecture on how he has every faith in me becoming a fantastic nurse. He then tells me I have a certain je ne sais quoi. At which point my mentor arrives and quickly ushers me away before he tries to propose.
The rest of the shift goes by in a flurry of ECG’s, dashes to the toilet having drunk 15,000 liters of water during my shift and observations. At which point my mentor decides to send me to get changed and wait for her in the staff room.
I am in bed, eyes heavy and feet sore, recovering before tonights shift.