General

Jayda was a person of uncommon gifts. She was like a bird in flight, making something so impossible for others appear easy and natural. On the ward she calmed patients deemed "difficult" by other nurses. Once glance at her ebony skin against that starched white uniform and their respirations eased to a more relaxed rhythm. Nurse Miller never hurt them, never became impatient or belittled their pains, physical or otherwise. She spoke to them like they were still people, people who mattered, not just withered old bones too stubborn to die any faster. When her gaze fell on them it had the warmth of a daughter's eyes and her voice was deep yet honeyed. Her speech had a liberal dose of terms of endearment: "honey, sweetie, sweetheart and love." With just her presence their pain medications worked better, their appetites improved and they slept more deeply.

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 25, 2014.
General

Jodie moved her stethoscope over the child's back. There were pronounced crackles in the right and left lower lungs, his oxygen sats were barely keeping above ninety percent and his black skin was greyed. He was awake but there was a listless to him and his chest heaved more quickly than it should to bring in air. Pneumonia most likely. The wall chart showed an emergency cubicle newly vacant, there would be no waiting for this kid. She picked him up and ran past the folks who had been waiting four hours or more, taking him right into the room. The doctor came instantly, ordering the nasal oxygen prongs that Jodie was already hooking up. He listened to his chest, ordered lung x-rays, blood tests, urine analysis and the preparation of intravenous antibiotics. With the infusion of oxygen the boy became less grey and told his mother not to worry. Jodie prepared to take the blood as his mother peppered her with anxious questions. What could she say? A nurse isn't allowed to diagnose...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

There was screaming on the ward. Every kid was awake, as Leon entered the room his form was met by fearful wide eyes and those able to move were hurrying in his direction. As four sets of arms clamped around his legs two other nurses entered the room in their neon pink scrubs. Together they soothed, stroked hair and returned the children to bed. But the boy who started it all was still screaming, only stopping to draw in rasping breaths. Leon sat at his side, slowly rubbing his back, delivering reassurance in his kindest voice, but nothing was working and the other children were getting upset again. It was two in the morning after all. He had sworn when he became a nurse he'd never use a chemical restraint on a child, but when another nurse came with a loaded syringe he stepped aside mutely and helped to hold the boy still. The tranquillizer worked quickly and soon the ward was full of sleeping children again. Leon hung his head, this was never in the job description.

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Lisa flopped inside her front door, pulling off her scrubs and removing everything from the pockets. The items would go in a sealed bag, the clothes to the washer. In her underwear she sterilized her hands and headed straight for the shower. After sixteen hours awake she needed bed, but there was no way she's be taking MRSA to her sheets, or spreading it around her condo. When she stepped out, wrapped only on a towel the phone rang. It was human resources asking her to work another shift starting at 3p.m. By then, without more than four hours sleep, she'd be lucky to know one end of a thermometer from the other, let alone administer medications. She declined and pulled on her pyjamas. With the kids already at at school and the kitchen cleaned by her mother she knew this was a charmed life for a nurse, but still it was hard. She's always needed her sleep and these night shifts were never ending...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Jen was the last of the code-white team to arrive. Their patient, dressed only his hospital gown, towered over all of the nurses. He stood in the centre of the circle swinging a shank he'd made by snapping a plastic spoon. How he'd got it would be a matter for investigation, but for now there had to be co-ordinated take-down. Unable to use any martial art, even if they knew them, the nurses moved in at the same time and the security officer, who threw a thick blanket over the patient and pulled his arms in tight. In seconds the needle was in his left buttock and a does of tranquilizer was in. In the bedlam no-one noticed Jen still on the floor, a glint of white plastic sticking out of her abdomen and blood pooling on the floor. The colour had drained from her face and her hands twitched involuntarily. In minutes she was in surgery...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

The nurse entered the room in blue scrubs, po-faced, serious, washing her hands at the sink like she was lost entirely to worrying thoughts. When she tuned to Maya her face softened into a smile and she introduced herself before asking what had brought Maya to the hospital. She listened while taking her pulse, feeling her skin and pinching her nail beds of her fingers and toes. Occasionally she would ask a pointed question but other than that the chatter was no different to when she got her hair fixed. The nurse fussed with the call-bed, tying it around the bed-frame in Maya's reach and tidied around the bed. She raised the head of the bed saying that breakfast was coming soon and then she was gone. Po-faced again, washing hands, writing on a folder outside the door. So this was her new nurse for the day, she sighed and rolled toward the window, she's had worse. At least this one tried to be nice.

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Lulu stood at the bedside of her new patient taking her pulse and observing respiration rate while the patient spoke in her pressured way, fitting more words in a minute than most would in five. The patient weighed more than twice what she did yet she required full help with ambulation. She was charted as a two-person-assist. Lulu held subconsciously her breath at the idea. An injured back would be the end of her career as a nurse and with it her ability to support her kids would be gone. This lady was having the ceiling life today and likely three nurses to help. She smiled at her patient and asked questions to assess her pain levels whilst doing a head-to-toe assessment and making notes. After helping her patient to wash she left, sterilizing her hands at the door before leaving. The breakfast trays were already arriving and two of her patients required help with eating. As she walked purposefully to one door the call bell for another room sounded. Two hours down and ten to go...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Rita stood blearily taking in the details of her new patients at the nurses' hand-over meeting. She was dimly irritated that they were all on full contact precautions. That meant she'd be gowning up fifty times of more that day, plus gloves and face visors. Then there was all the hand-washing. She patted the pocket of her scrubs, and let out a slow breath, her moisturizer was there with her pen flashlight. First thing was her greeting round, check they're all still breathing. At the first door she stopped at the hallway cart and donned a yellow disposable gown, then two pairs of bright blue gloves and finally a mask with eye protectors. Then she walked in, no need for her "nurse smile" today, they'd never see it anyway. She tried not to think of the twelve hours ahead, though she didn't think of herself as a"pay-check-nurse," only in it for the money, thinking of the hundreds of dollars she would have earned by bed-time helped a lot.

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Joey stood at the medicine cart punching in the code. It was already a quarter past ten and he hadn't started organizing the ten o'clock medications yet, let alone actually administering them. He took the MAR chart and flipped through for his first patient; the mantra of nursing school echoing in his head: right dose, right route, right patient...three checks..." Once the pills were in their paper cups he took them to the bedside, greeting his patients genially, asking them to tell him their names though he knew them already and checking their names on their hospital admission bracelets. For some patients he had crushed their pills and mixed them into apple sauce, and for the most part he informed them as to what was in it; the patient had the right to refuse. But for the elderly with cognitive decline he just spooned it in and wiped their lips clean afterwards. He supposed his old philosophy prof would call that beneficence, a philosophy nurses are moving away from, he didn't care...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Claire sat at the nurse station. It was the first time in four hours she'd had a moment to sit and she had charting to do. The morning had been a blur of taking vitals, doing bed-baths, changing adult diapers and administering medications. Her most elderly patient rang her call bell every five minutes or so and if she wasn't right there in seconds the screaming began. Officially this was her lunch time and she'd handed over her patients to another nurse, but instead of being in the canteen with a coffee and a cream cheese bagel she was working furiously to add every detail she could recall to the medical notes. She recalled, as they were so fond of telling her in nursing school, that it was a legal document; her notes had to be of a standard that would hold up in court should she ever be summoned. Tiredness was no excuse at all. With ten minutes left to her break she put the binders back on the shelf, sterilized her hands and left the ward. She needed caffeine...now...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 27, 2014.
General

Sleeplessness was just part of being a nurse. On Lucy's first night shift she had already been awake the entire day with her young children. On a good night she could snatch a few hours of shut-eye but often there were the new admissions to deal with: the interviews and the paperwork. Other times a patient would scream all night and wake the entire ward making it a see of zombified patients all still dosed on their night medications. After more than twenty-four hours awake her body demanded sleep but once she opened the front door her husband would kiss her and leave for his work in the city. There were breakfasts to be made, lunches too, the kids to dress and take to nursery. By nine am she would be back, putting in laundry, making beds and planning dinner. By ten am she was too tired to think and sank fully clothed into bed. Thirty minutes later a door slammed. Twenty minutes latter a man hollered on the street. Ten minutes later the phone rang - her mother - feeling lonely...

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 25, 2014.
General

The nurse entered the room without slowing her stride at all. One moment she was in the corridor, her eyes dead ahead and the next she was grabbing Jessie's hand to take a pulse. In this exchange she neither made eye contact or spoke; Jessie began to feel sub-human, as if she no longer qualified as a person at all. The nurse's face was like an overstored apple, round, full, yet crinkled worse than a brown paper bag after all the candy is gone. Her eyes were small, mean, bereft of any make-up and she smelt of detergent. She made a clicking noise with her tongue before pursing withered lips, finally hiding her yellow teeth and cutting off the smell of garlic. Jessie began to open her mouth to ask when lunch would come but before she could the nurse had bustled off, disappearing down the corridor as rapidly as she came.

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, December 25, 2014.