Lemme 'splain somethin' 'bout the OR. It's a hard place, no question. Sterile technique is no joke, not a matter for opinion. Whomever says. "you contaminated" is right. When a veteran nurse says it over the objections of a two-month orderly, there is no question.
It's hard to hear anything, a lot of white noise, mumbling surgeons, everyone talking at once, beepers going off, apparent confusion to anyone new. The reality is much clearer, but only appears with experience, and time. Very easy to be overwhelmed and stunned, while remaining unaware of one's being a huge obstruction.
The first time I was pushed out of the way, nothing could have felt more intrusive or horrible. I wanted to shout back, shove back, instead I cried tears of fury and shame, and learned. My skin grew thicker, as well as more sensitive, and I realized that when I thought I was rushing around, accomplishing much, what was actually happening was, well, a blank stare and... nothing else. I only realized it once I was scrubbed in with a nurse on her first day without back-up. I recognized myself at once, and had compassion, as well as great impatience, with her. Oh, I thought, THAT'S what I looked like. I refer to it as Dead Nurse Brainwaves. And I forgave, completely, anyone who trained me. Because working in the OR I could not pick up easily, nor quickly, as I had done with just about anything else I'd ever had to learn. This did not come easily and naturally, it doesn't for anybody. The complexities require time and experience, attentiveness only makes it possible, it cannot hasten the process past a certain point.
I can still feel the first time a surgeon threw an instrument at me. The only time, actually. Or had to snatch one out of my hand that he'd been asking for. One of the many times I've had a hand position adjusted while retracting, or been moved because I was oblivious and in the way. I learned relatively fast, but never fast enough not to be corrected at least once. Not a week ago I was instructed by a surgeon on how to apply a tourniquet. His way, mind, but it was his patient, so.
Understand, I am an abrasive person. New, young people have found me intimidating. I don't deny this, I want them a little afraid so they will listen to me. I have no other natural authority, this is all I have. Anyone who knows me knows I have no malice in me, no harm. The first complaint
was an orderly of two months, standing in my room - without a role - as the new scrub had to move her sterile table into position. She had that thousand yard stare, and was in the middle of where the scrub had to be. I instructed her to move back, in the midst of all my other tasks at this point in the case. She made no reply. After several attempts, and knowing about OR deafness, I touched her shoulders to draw her back and out of the way. She resisted. I pulled harder, until she was out of the way. I remember nothing further, until I was brought into Human Resources because she complained I'd been physically abusive. The second complaint,
a core tech, whose job it is to get supplies for the room (as the RN is not supposed to leave the room at all, really, in reality we have to get supplies fairly often) did not move when I requested an item, and when I asked again she sat there and said "Oh, you needed that?" Well, she'd overheard a separate conversation as I called back into the room. She went on to lose her shit at me, then wrote me up. She has since been fired, but her version of events is still pending against me. I will never sign the complaint.The third complaint
, was one of those nightmare moments, patient's family is already on edge. I would've bet money, walking in, that I was going to hear of a complaint, before I said a word. I did my best, but honestly, I know it wouldn't have mattered. Sure enough, and that counted as THREE, I was being reprimanded and sent to EAP for behaviour management and conflict resolution.
The supervisor, each time, was conciliatory and had soft words for me, but there was a wrong note somehow. A sense of serious trouble that I could not pin down. Until I read this reprimand, which was loaded, accusatory and harsh. I corrected the first one, and signed it, thinking it was all over. The second, I will never sign, and the last I never got an actual write-up done.
I saw the EAP counselor, who I rather liked, and did trust, feeling that she did believe me, and gave me credit for being misread. I saw her intake form, with my supervisor's note, "...terminated if the behavior doesn't change." I went icy and hot, and crumpled. That afternoon, I spiffed up my resume and applied at the New Hospital. I was not about to walk on eggshells and wait for the next petty, personal complaint to give my supervisor an excuse to fire me. I thought he was laying the groundwork to fire me, though the way he wrote his reprimands. To find a job in this economy, after being fired? No, I would carve my own path, not wait for the guillotine, no.
The manager tried to reassure me, by effusive language and praise, giving me an unwanted hug to, apparently, shore up my self esteem, over my objections. Not my assessment of my value that was the issue, so her entreaties fell flat, since what I needed was her respect - and dismissal of the seriousness taken of the trivial complaints.
It took a month, and the day I was offered the new position, I had to meet again with supervisor and HR - before I knew. Their sweet words embittered me, too late, and still, with no belief in me. They needed my skills, sure, but one idiot without skin who thought I looked at them funny would land me back in front of them, my character prodded and dismissed. The next day, my resignation letter was on the manager's desk.
That got her attention. I had to tell her repeatedly that I was not threatening, this was not a bargaining tactic, I was leaving. She tried to sway me, still lacking the fundamental understanding that molehills had been turned into mountains. She tried to extract a promise from me to call her back if I didn't like it in the New Hospital. Over and over again, car-saleman pressure. I should have stopped it sooner, I know, I didn't and hate that I didn't. But I never gave her any such promise. I would not lie. I did not add that if I didn't like it there, I would go to another department, or work at the V.A. hospital, or indeed, live in a box on the street before I would ever work for a corporation that employed or promoted her.
I needed to trust the people who could fire me. I didn't.
That, my dear friends, is the story.
And I am done. I loved the people I worked with, and will miss them with all my heart. I will work at a new place, day shifts only, no call, no nights, all my hours and better pay. I mourn. I hope.
Labels: anger, surgery