I am officially halfway done with my capstone rotation and decided to commemorate the occasion by working three shifts in a row this week. Man, that is brutal.

It’s interesting how different each shift can be. Day 1 was a little overwhelming (as the first day after a long stretch off can be). Day 2 I felt like I was on the game and could take on the world. I was delegating to my preceptor and assumed almost total care for 2 of our 3 patients. I even had time to take a break!

And I bonded with an adolescent girl whose cancer had metastasized. Her family had just decided to change her code status to DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). We were trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. When she found out I was taking my boards in December, she said she’d come back to the hospital and congratulate me. It broke my heart.

Day 3 was hell on earth. For some reason the stars aligned to produce a complete cluster! Our three patients all ended up being more complicated than we had anticipated. A different nurse’s patient had a crazy scary Ativan reaction right before being discharged. Because his nurse was super busy, my preceptor and I ended up helping.

Then we had a chemo spill 30 minutes before change of shift. Luckily it was more of a splatter, but the protocol for cleaning up is quite intense. 15 minutes later, another patient pulled apart his IV line, right as the lab called with critical values that needed to be reported to the resident on duty. His response when I brought the values to him pretty much summed it up: “Sh*t.”

I didn’t get out of there til past 2000 (that’s 8 p.m.). It was the first day I felt like crying because I was so overwhelmed.

But tomorrow is another shift. And I’m ready to go back for more. Just gotta keep pluggin’ along.

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