I knew it was going to be a long day when I walked past the nurse's station and saw the board announcing that 10 patients would be arriving from the Operating Room and 4 would be coming from the Emergency Room that day.
My heart sank when I next noticed that my fellow aide, Jimmy, had been put on call.
"10 surgeries and I am the only aide. Just great.", I thought to myself.
On the floor at that moment, there were 12 patients. We had to have 15 in order to have two Aides.
"No problem," I thought. "Three more admits and Jimmy will be called in. It's going to be fine. I can do this."
THIS was only my second day as an aide. I had been training for the past couple of months but THIS was for real now. THIS meant that I would be the only one who would be in charge of doing blood sugars, taking vitals, helping with showers and bed baths, helping patients to the bathroom or emptying catheters, hooking and unhooking IV poles, nasal cannulas, removing meal trays, changing linens, filling mugs, etc., etc. Just me.
The first patient came from the OR. I started taking their vitals as soon as they arrived. I would need to do it again 15 minutes later. Then an hour after that, and again an hour after that. Followed again 4 hours later. (Do you see how this can be a bit overwhelming when you have 10 patients coming from the OR in one day? That's a lot of schedules to remember!)
The second OR patient hit the floor about 30 minutes later. We were at 14! One more and Jimmy would be called in. Then I got the page to do discharge vitals in room 319. Now we would be down to 13.
It went that way all day. A patient or two would be admitted, and one or two would be discharged. The census just hovered around 14 all morning and into the afternoon.
I was literally running between patient rooms trying to keep up with all the vitals and answering call lights. At two o'clock, I was frazzled. Overwhelmed and on the verge of tears, I realized that I hadn't taken a break or had anything to eat or drink since 6 o'clock that morning.
I stopped by the nurse's station and announced that I was going to get some lunch- trying very hard not to look at anyone for fear that they would see that I was starting to get teary-eyed. "That's a good idea," one nurse said, "You have been running around all day!"
I went to the break room, retrieved my lunch from the fridge and dialed Erik. I needed someone to tell me it was going to be OK. I still had 5 hours to go and at least seven more patients coming.
Erik didn't answer. As I hung up the phone, I told myself that it was best that he hadn't because I probably would have fallen apart and then would have made a gigantic fool of myself.
I took a deep breath and opened my lunch bag. I pulled out my sandwich and noticed a square piece of paper sitting at the bottom of the bag.
I reached in and pulled it out. I opened the folded piece of paper and discovered that it was a note from Nicole.
I love you so much! Thank you for all that you do for me. You are the best mom! What you are doing at the hospital is truly amazing and Christ-like! Keep up the good work!
It was just what I needed.
I swallowed back my tears, said a little prayer of thanks for being blessed with such a thoughtful daughter, and ate my lunch ready to face the rest of the day.