I knew nursing school would be tough and I was willing to sacrifice my dream to get my degree. I would come to class like something from the walking dead. I managed to get through the tough times in nursing school because I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and there was. But gosh, can we turn off the light sometimes and get through every night?
Well, as you may have already figured out, I’m a zombie nurse. I graduated 6 years ago and work on a busy medical and surgical floor. 12-hour shifts are the norm, and I work mine three in a row. I guess you could say, I’m a glutton for punishment, and you’d be right. Many nurses choose to spread their shifts throughout the week so that they are not as tired. But I? No, I’m a diehard. I figure if I’m already working, I might as well continue until I finish, and then enjoy being free for four days. My boss thinks I’m crazy, but she would never admit that she’s right about that, because she already thinks it’s Einstein’s ghost.
My day starts at the ridiculous o’clock. I’ve already hit the alarm clock three times, but he refuses to shut up. It’s like groundhog day all over again. It is so early that the bats are still up and flying. I open my eyes again, only to realize that I slept until my last nap, and I have one minute and thirty seconds to shower, get dressed, eat, make coffee, and drive to work… way to get stupid. ! I swear, then get my ass out of bed cursing and thinking I’ll be smarter tonight and go to bed earlier, so I can get up easily the next day. But it never happens. I’m such a liar!
I take a cold shower to wake up my lazy cells, then thank God and WonderWink that I can work in my pajamas. Man, I love my scrubs. I run downstairs, open the fridge and grab an unrecognizable piece of moldy fruit (or something) and I don’t have time for coffee. Yes, I hate my life now.
I look like Dog-doo because I don’t have any makeup on. Maybe that’s fine with some nurses. You know, the ones that are naturally fabulous at 6:00 in the morning, but not my ugly butt. I look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards, and it never fails. No one can keep their mouths shut about my appearance at work. It has to be, “hey, you don’t seem to be feeling well” or “wow, you look tired.” Yes, I’m tired, and no, I’m not sick, I’m just terribly ugly without my Estee Lauder Halloween mask.
Trying to eat breakfast while listening to the report is challenging, even for me. Now, I have a strong stomach, but why do all my patients have all the poop, vomit, and pus problems? I listen as I gobble down the half-rotten banana and envy someone else’s McDonald’s. Everyone else seems so much more organized and fresh. I can barely keep my eyes open to hear the report. It seems I told Mrs. Nurse, “I want to get the hell out of here.” to give me a report, because she’s giving a report like she’s Speedy Gonzales, and she keeps blurting out, “She’s on the chart,” when I ask any questions. God, it’s going to be a long day.
I feel like I’ve run a marathon, and it’s only 7:30 am. Time flies when you’re having fun! Drug evaluations and approvals, doesn’t sound so bad, right? Haha, bad. All my patients are a mess today, with a million drugs, and we don’t have half of them. It’s time to call the pharmacy, and now I’m singing zombies, “I love my job, I love my job.” aloud.
I’m already daydreaming about bedtime, but I complete my assessments without too much trouble. Well, except for the sweet insane old lady who keeps asking me to find her socks (when she has them on). The patient next to him believes the mob is plotting to kill him and Mr. Gross, who keeps asking me to bathe him in bed. Tell me why I became a nurse again.
I finish my morning check-in and feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. If I don’t drink massive amounts of highly caffeinated coffee, I’ll be on the ground. It’s time to quickly go to the cafeteria for a drink. Oh what do you know? They have a little, but he is so old and strong, that he is about to grow legs and walk on his own. What the hell, I need coffee! So I pay his stinky million bucks for a large coffee and run upstairs to see more “Nightmare on Elm Street,” starring my boss as Freddie Krueger.
She is hell on wheels today, as she is most days. She sits at the desk and barks orders at us, and she has no idea what sickbay really is. The only time she rises from the dead to lend a hand is when the Joint Commission is here, and she suddenly turns into Nancy Nurse and has everyone recite the mission statement.
While I was away, one of my patients fell out of bed, trying to run away from the mob that guy came to visit. All I can think of is more paperwork. The patient is totally fine, but now I have a hundred years of paperwork. When I start working on the book I have to write, a relative of another patient comes to visit me. He wants to talk to me, so he drops what I’m doing and rushes to the patient’s room. She tells me that she’s not a nurse and says, “I’m not trying to do your job, but a friend of mine works in a nursing home and does something medical. She said you have my mother on too many antibiotics.” and that she’s on the wrong guy.” Hmmm Really? I’ve reached my boiling point right now, but I’m still trying to be nice. low as I walk away.
8 hours pass and I’m still flying like a witch on her broom. My chart isn’t done yet, and I’m falling behind with every step I take. One great thing about being a nurse is that time goes by so fast because you never go out for air.
At the end of each day, my bladder aches from the need to urinate. I think I could win a pee-holding competition without a doubt! I am a beast! My stomach is gurgling from lack of food and this day is becoming more like tales from the crypt. All I can think about is running out of dodge. But extra time is fast becoming an unsettling possibility. When will this end?
I manage to get my paperwork done, and my patients are finally happy (for now). Could it really be over? My relief arrives and I run into her arms like a cheesy love story. I’m elated that it’s all over for today. I can go home. Hurrah! I run to my car, noticing that there’s a full moon outside, even though I could have told you that without looking. I get in my car, start the engine and breathe a sigh of relief. I look in the rearview mirror and jump out of my wits in fear. There is a scary monster looking at me. Oh wait, it’s just me after the 12 hour shift from hell.
On the way home I reflect on my day. I realize I’m a mess, but in a good way. I wouldn’t accept anything for the witches I work with and the devilish patients I occasionally meet. I love my life as a nurse and I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world. It may be crazy, but it’s my life and I love being a zombie nurse. Maybe I’ll resign myself to sleep when I’m dead.
This is dedicated to all my zombie nurse friends around the world. Happy Halloween, zombie nurses! You are totally amazing!