I just sat in my car tearing up, reflecting on the chaos that was my shift. I’ve never had a shift like that.
First, I gotta tell Cam Jordan thanks for the pizza. Cam, I hope you’re reading this and really everyone who has filled the bellies of the frontline workers, thank you. This letter in no way is meant to sleight your kindness.
However, I need to tell you about the day Cam Jordan sent us pizza. For those of you who aren’t from New Orleans or who aren’t football fans, Cam Jordan is one of the best defensive football players in the NFL.
Cam, the day you sent pizza was quite possibly the worst shift/working day I’ve ever had.
Actually, it definitely was.
I’m a new charge nurse and management believed I was ready to lead a team of redeployed nurses in our COVID-19 ICU. We’re talking nurses who haven’t worked within the ICU in 20 years, pediatric nurses used to working with babies, nurses who aren’t used to seeing the sickness of an ICU, let alone the sickness of a COVID-19 ICU, which is heightened times 10.
And I don’t know any of them. And they’re all looking at me to lead them.
Imagine it’s like this. You have to field an NFL defense for a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. But all the players they’ve sent you are quarterbacks, wide receivers and punters.
Pediatric nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Operating room nurses. Great at what they do. That’s who we had in the beginning stages to help build our unit.
And hell, they worked hard. Gave it all they had. But, just imagine it like this. They worked as hard as Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Thomas Morstead would. But Morstead is playing cornerback, Brees is playing linebacker and Thomas is playing defensive end.
Blowout right? Same here.
What does that mean for me? For us?
I think we had three patients die that shift. Everyone looked at me for answers and I didn’t have any. Scared nurses looked to me for comfort and confidence and I couldn’t give it to them. I left an hour late and didn’t set up the next shift for success.
I felt like I let everyone down.
When I walked out of the hospital that night, I called my girlfriend.
And I just sat in my car tearing up, reflecting on the chaos that was my shift. I’ve never had a shift like that. She listened. I guess all I needed in that moment was for her to listen. Later that night, when I got home, I talked to my roommate and he reminded me of a John Wayne quote: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."
I thought to myself, I'm going to do whatever I can to make this better. And I think, in that low moment I hit rock bottom, I was able to get it off my chest and come back the next day.
And you know what’s cool? Fortunately the other nurses began to get the hang of it. We started to gel, to become a team. And we ended up playing pretty darn good together.
We Got Blown Out, But Thanks For The Pizza