Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm forever blowing bubbles

"Nurse, there's bubbles coming out of the floor," one of my patients told me early one morning.

"Pretty!" I replied and kept going.  Schizophrenia can cause patients to see things that are not there, termed visual hallucinations in medical jargon.

I was in the medication room getting ready to start the morning medications when there was the never-ending visitor at the door.  (For the record, nobody but nurses belong in the medication room.  I am in there to perform a necessary function and should not be interrupted.  There is a desk nurse whose job is to supposedly handle such interruptions.)

He was from maintenance and was there to "fix the bubbles in the floor."

I was perplexed.  Then he showed me how the linoleum sheet that is our floor was coming up in pockets, or bubbles.  I had tripped over these bubbles many times.

"Sure," I replied.  "Come back around 9:30.  I should be finished then," and returned to my prep.

"No, I have to fix it NOW," was his annoyed response.  Never mind that the floor has been like this for as long as I can recall.

"I need to be in here now for the morning medications," was my calm response.

"I didn't say you couldn't be in here.  I am going to fix the floor now.  We won't be in YOUR way," he replied.  As if the room was not six feet wide by six feet.  As if the carts I needed for the medications did not take up any space.  As if I was in this room for no reason other than a personal reason.

I shut the door.  Only I have a key, so they could not re-enter.  I called the supervisor from my cell phone and she said she would look into it.  I began the medications.  About ten minutes later, the supervisor arrived with some maintenance guys in tow.  (Please be aware that maintenance is in the building 24/7 and can fix this floor at any time.)  I heard the desk nurse in the background, "I don't know why she has to give everyone such a hard time.  You're only doing your job."

"Nurse, there is no other time that they can fix the floor.  They won't get in your way.  Remember, you need to get along with everyone.  Nursing is a team effort," the supervisor admonished.  I guess I am the one who always has to take a fall for the team.

They filed in with all of their supplies.  They just needed to remove the medications carts so they could work.  Answer:  No.  I need the medication carts to do my work, and you said you would not interfere.  Plus, we cannot leave medication carts unattended in the hall.  I cannot.  I was the only one who would get in trouble for unattended medications.  Not maintenance.

For two hours, they carved up the floor, placed new floor, sutured the pieces, gabbed on their phones, played music.  I could barely hear my patients as they lined up for their medications.  I moved about furiously, tripping over them, their tools, spilling liquids and dropping pills all over the room.  They were quite annoyed, but continued until the job was complete.  The floor looked horrible, all cut up, with the new, shiny pieces sharply contrasting with the old, worn pieces.  The edges were already coming up so I could trip over them instead of the bubbles.

As they were vacating the room with their supplies, I made a point of grabbing my bag and turning off the light as I followed them out.  "You're done?" one of them asked.

"Yes," I replied.  "I'm only in there about two hours in the morning, and then the room is free until noon, when we have to do lunchtime fingersticks and insulin."

A few of them stood there, trying to process this information.  "Maybe we should have just waited until this time," one of them ventured.

I said nothing.

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