Really I work the same job just in two different locations (and on occasion at the same place). Granted one place has a little less blood (the ER) and one has fewer screaming children (home) but pretty much it’s the same job. And they are both full time day and night.
There is a lot of nakedness in the ER. Granted it’s not like the hospital gowns we offer people provide a lot of coverage, and end up flapping open in the back as the patients walk to the bathroom or move or breath (which is something I prefer patients to do in the ER). Hint for those going to the ER for the first time- the gowns tie in the back…they aren’t fancy kimono robes or anything, what little privacy they offer is best when tied in the back. There is a lot of nakedness with toddlers. Not sure if it’s the same with toddler girls as it is boys, as boys are my only reference, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “hey bud, for the fifth time do you think we could put some underwear and pants on today? Like before noon?”
Privacy (or lack there of)-
As a patient in the ER my patients are asked very personal questions by pretty much a complete stranger that walked into their room 2 minutes prior. Usually while they are dressed in above mentioned hospital gowns. The kind of questions where anywhere else would earn me a slap in the face, but total normal in the ER. The lack of privacy extends to home. I’m not sure the last time I went to the bathroom without being interrupted by at least one (if not all three) boys with life altering questions such as “why do giraffes have long necks” and “where is my red lego?” and “where is daddy?” (which I usually wonder, where is daddy and why does no one interrupt his bathroom time….only mine?). And to add to the lack of privacy everything is broadcast loudly throughout the house, you know things like “I’m going poop”. Somethings I just don’t need to know.
It’s not a good thing in either place. First off with toddlers if it’s quiet it means one of two things-something is being destroyed or they have escaped and are running loose in the neighborhood. Neither of which is good. In the ER if one dares mention the Q word then it is all over. Second the law of averages, we see roughly the same number of people every day, some days a few more, some days less. No one schedules their emergency, so if it’s “slow” (known as the S word, same power as the Q word) or “quiet”, then it’s just a matter of time before it explodes and becomes a war zone. I think yesterday we literally had 22 patients arrive in less than 30 minutes which took our ER from a state of “steady” to “CRAZINESS” in 5 seconds flat.
This one almost goes without explanation. I don’t even bat an eye at home. My husband will be curled up on the floor gagging to death with toddler vomit sprayed all over the bed/floor/wall/child and if we are lucky it stops there. I just gather it all up and spray it down and throw it in the washer. I try and remove the toddler prior to starting the wash and instead put him in the bathtub. At work I’m able to hand and replace vomit bags while listening to my patient’s lungs and asking those life probing questions all in-between retching episodes.
I’ll just leave this one as is. Your imagination can fill in the blanks.
Band-Aids Fix A Lot-
Sometimes this holds true in the ER. It almost is always true at home with toddlers. I should have bought stock in Band-Aids, I’d have all their colleges paid for at this point.
So Do Popsicles-
Again at both places. Only they seem to make a much larger mess at home. And have the unique ability to get to places across the house from where they were eaten.
People Dress Weird-
I love it when the guy who is covered in 865 tattoos is literally crying about getting an IV placed because he is afraid of needles. Speaking of tattoos I have earned a few degrees in the knowledge that I have obtained from reading people’s tats. And piercings. I did not know so many body parts could be pierced on purpose. My toddler who has chosen to wear my oven mits on his feet, bright red gym shorts that are two sizes too small and allow his tiger boxer briefs to stick out the bottom with his cameo long underwear shirt and plastic fireman’s hat totally fits in. Especially if he adds his mismatched “ninja” gloves.
So see, it’s pretty much one in the same. At both places I’m usually not sure when the last time I peed or ate anything. And crying and screaming and sirens are all just part of the daily noise that I have effectively blocked out. And while people often think I save lives at one “continue CPR and please push another milligram of epi”, I actually do it at both “your super hero cape does not give you the ability to fly from the second floor and land safely”. I give what may seem like strange instructions to people “Sir if you are not going to stop using cocaine then please find a different dealer who does not lace your cocaine with something you are deathly allergic to, I may not be able to save you next time”, and “Your socks will go on easier if you put them on before you put your snow boots on, especially in July”. And at both I offer comfort and hold hands and wipe tears and say prayers. I often end my days (and nights) shaking my head, feeling a bit crazy myself, and laughing because really there is no other way to get through it all.