Was it the Music?

I’ve been hating on work lately. While at work, I keep busy, am attentive and proactive with my patients, and generally have a fairly good time. Most mornings, I leave feeling extremely fulfilled and accomplished. But on my days off, I’ve been really complaining. Night shift hurts me, the things we do to our patients hurts me, maybe I should get away from the bedside. Believe me, I’ve been trying. I admit, my levels of nursing pride are at an all-career low – what is it about NY that makes me think my job is just a job? Perhaps it’s the, “Aww, how nice,” I get at parties when I explain my profession. Or the blank stares.

Either way, I think I should write down the good vibes I had for my job this morning as I made my way across gloomy Manhattan home to my bed. To remind me for the times when I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall at work.

Nothing exceptional happened last night. I had one very involved patient who has end stage lung disease and requests quite a bit of attention. I’m not going to lie, he’s acquired some labels in the unit that are unfortunate and keep him from getting unbiased care. My other patient, a poor man with a grim cancer prognosis complicated by a cardiac arrest the day before, was quiet, easy, alone.

The night went in a normal fashion, but when it was over, I just had the sense that I had done some good. I gave my first patient my Sunday NYT, and even though his heart rate went funky and fast in the early morning hours, he squeezed my hand and blew me a kiss from beneath his mask, as I said goodbye and told him I’d be back in a few hours for another night. I told him to listen to some music today – I had left NPR’s All Songs Considered 24/7 Music channel quietly playing in my other patient’s room all night, and even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t have an opinion about it, the songs took me out of the dreary hospital room. I hoped music would do the same for this man, but I’m guessing he probably didn’t play any today. Perhaps tonight.

I can’t explain it well, but I felt happy walking home. The outcome of both of these patients will occur differently, but the end point will be the same. Did my comfort help the one that others had dismissed as difficult? Did the mouth care and music do anything for the other? I don’t know. I don’t think it mattered today, because I liked what I had done. I gave great care, and it was fun. I felt proud, content, and ready to repeat.

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