Ah, the holiday season..
Holidays are a little different for us nurses and others who work somewhere that never closes. You know, the police officers, fire fighters, 911 dispatchers, EMT’s/paramedics,etc.. We don’t get our holidays off every year. We have to make our holiday plans according to our work schedules and maintain a good attitude for the holidays shifts in which we must work year after year.
Working the holidays kind of sucks, but after you get report and get settled into your shift (after you’ve scarfed down two grocery store super-soft sugar cookies) and start checking out your patients.. you quickly stop feeling bad for yourself.
While you’re getting holiday pay, probably get to see your loved ones away from the hospital at some point, and get to enjoy real food.. none of your patients get to enjoy those luxuries. When I’m driving into work wearing my grumpy scrub pants, the second I see my sad and lonely patient’s eyes, the grumpy scrub pants come off and the humble/thankful scrub pants come on. When you see someone alone in a sterile-ish, florescent-lit hospital room on Christmas Eve.. compassion tugs on your cold nurses heart strings like a confused patient tugs on their foley.
While some patients have fantastic, supportive families that do everything to make their loved one feel important and special during the holidays, not everyone does. Working in health care, you see all walks of life.. including the not-so-easy-to-see walks of life. People who are wards of the state, people with families who come in just to ask for money, people who are mean to their families or whose families are mean to them, or people with just two family members but they already have another holiday party to go to. Whatever the patient’s situation at home, your heart goes out to them and you remember that being a nurse isn’t just a job.
I love when the hospital staff knows a patient will be alone in their room on the holidays and we all turn into big obnoxious holiday fools. It’s glorious.
Being ridiculous for a patient on a holiday is a bit of a right of passage for nurses. We’ve all done it. From urinal wreaths, to Christmas trees made out of gloves, to singing Christmas carols, to nurses dressing up as Santa or wearing hilarious holiday scrubs, to smuggling break-room goodies to particularly lonely patients.. we know how to get a smile out of even the grouchiest grinch on the floor. And high-fives all around at the nurses station when we do!
So this New Year’s when you’re working or thinking about when you worked on Christmas.. remember how thankful the patients are that you’re there for them (even if they don’t act like it), and that you really do have the capability to make or break their holiday.
What’s something hilarious/ridiculous/thoughtful you’ve done on a holiday for a lonely patient?