Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thank you, chatty little girl!

I have not been writing recently because I seemed to be hit suddenly by burnt-out syndrome at work. It started after my 1-day training. The ward was flooded with patients, a mix of adult and paediatric. On an average shift, I had 10-12 patients per shift [Note: More if you count the new cases that come in after the previous ones were discharged], up to 10 IV medications to administer, 8-20 nebulizations to be done, not counting regular medication rounds, assisting with venous cannulations and IV drip replacement, admission assessment and all other nursing duties.

Suddenly on Sunday 14th March, I felt psychologically numb. We had the most adorable group of infants and children, but I could not feel anything more than, "Oh no, another piece of work to be done!"

I was shocked to feel that way, afterall I was less than 9 months into the job/career and logically speaking I recognized that the children would be very adorable under any other circumstances. That's when I thought I might have hit the burnt-out point. I decided to give it a few days, to see how it goes, perhaps it was just a fleeting emotional swing. Unfortunately, both the workload and the numbness lasted. They were exacerbated by a Complaint Queen and my ward manager unreasonable lecturing/demands [Note: Especially over a bloody GE case, and the proof (supporting my nursing assessment) is in the doctor's order after reviewing the blood-stained diaper].

3 days later, we had a new admission. A chatty little 3 year-old girl. There is something about this little girl. Her courage when faced with fear. I could see her holding back her tears of fear during IV cannulation, she chatted through the procedure and she even reassured others, "Yes, I am very brave." Her chatty nature cheers up the whole room. Despite my workload, I decided that I would stop for a few minutes to listen to her stories each time I attended to her. I'm glad I did, it was the only bright spark on my overloaded shift and my heart began to lighten up.

In front of the patient, I told her mother, "She's so cheerful and chatty, I'm sure she's very popular with her teachers and classmates."

"Yes, but her non-stop chatting gives me a headache," teased her mother, brimming with pride.

Returning to work on 20th March after my day-off, I was dragging my feet. I had a double shift that day and loafed at facing the load of patients again. A little spark in my heart wondered if the 3 year-old girl had been well-enough to be discharged on my day-off. When I arrived, I found that the chatty little girl was still warded. I had been assigned to the team with the lighter patient load and the little girl was under the care of the other team. Still, I had the chance to pop-by her room to attend to her call-bells and listen to her stories again.

5 days after her admission, the chatty little girl was discharged. By then, my love for the adorable infants and children had returned. Thank you, chatty little girl! You were a patient at my ward, but you've healed the healer.

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