Sunday, 3 June 2012

Life on night shift...

I woke up after sleeping all day (I've been on night shift, so that's a normal 8 hour day sleep), vaguely aware that I had been roused at one point by the exhuberant singing at the last sunday ward service of the outreach and the loud rhythmic pounding of drums. I turned off my alarm, flicked on the flourescent reading light by my bed and waited for my eyes to adjust.  I sat up, careful not to crack my head on the bunk above me, and reached over to my closet, barely having to stretch out of bed to grab my clothes for the day.  After changing, I grabbed my ID badge, which is worn during all waking hours on ship, and my room key.  I pulled back the curtain to my little 6 x 7 foot cubby and went into the even smaller bathroom to finish getting ready. The toilet sink and shower are all on a vaccuum system, which means sometimes they don't drain/flush until the system is ready.  Finally somewhat presentable (with knees and shoulders covered, a must on the ship)and ready for my day, I left the room, locking the door behind me since I was fairly certain that no one else was still in the room.

Walking around a corner and up a flight of stairs, I then walked through midships and past reception to the dining room where both food lineups were backed up to the drink area. It's the last weekend for visitors, so almost half the people there were locals visiting the ship. I saw Melinda and Anna in line with their visitors and put on a smile (seriously, those who know me well know that within the first 30mins of waking up, I have to force the smiles) and greeted them, then went to the back of the line. It being my first meal of the day, I couldn't quite stomach the rice and ribs that were being served, and so I collected bread and cheese slices instead.  Then I walked over to the hot sandwich presses and made myself a grilled cheese sandwich (toastie).  It's how most of us survive here, if we don't like the particular meal that's being served.  By the time my toastie was done I'd lost track of Melinda and Anna (the dining room seats over 200 people at a time), so went to sit with Noel and Hannah who had visitors as well. They were almost done their meal, so they left after about 10mins but Lycia joined me and we chatted through supper, finishing with a nice cup of tea.

After clearing our dishes and leaving them on the appropriate trays, I wandered back to where I had seen Laura sitting and chatted with her a few minutes before she had to go back to work.

At that point it was 6:30 already, so I went back to midships and up a flight of stairs to the Internet cafe where I saw Tiffany and Gretta. Tiff had just finished uploading pictures from last night's dance party on the dock, so I looked through those.

7pm and time to go to the Sunday Worship service. The room was half empty, but I spied Mona and went to sit with her. The service started with some worship led by James and Jillian, then Ans introduced Kirstie, who spoke about Loving God. Actually, it was a bit more like a testimony about how she learned to love God by hitting a low spot where she didn't love God. Then they had a bunch of people come to the front to pray for anyone who wanted prayer, dismissed everyone and Frances sang (beautiful voice, love it when she sings) while Misty played piano. It was a good time to sit and pray and center yourself. I left there after awhile and walked through midships where I found Anna and Lisa, then Melinda and Hannah joined us. After some comings and goings and ordering of Starbucks, being fed banana cream pie randomly by someone who had made it for kicks, etc, we ended up deciding to finish watching a movie the girls had started earlier in the week. So I had to go get my laptop (no one else has one that plays movies), and we all gathered on and in front of Hannah's bed in the back of a 6 berth cabin, where we were just setting up to watch when a phonecall came in. That delayed us by a few minutes (but we're all happy our friend who had left the ship called!). I had to leave after about 30 mins of watching the movie to get ready for work.

I walked down the hall and grabbed some scrubs from the women's change room, up a flight of stairs and down the hall to my room to get changed. Packed my food/drinks for the night and walked to the dining room to make a sandwich quickly. Popped behind the counters in the dining room since I was dressed in scrubs (shift workers are allowed to grab their midnight food from behind the counters) and grabbed some bread and peanut butter, then added honey to my sandwich from beside the tea/coffee area. I quickly walked back to my room since I had forgotten my pens, and then down another flight of stairs to the hospital.

I arrived to B ward right on time, and found there was only one nurse on, no charge. We're down to 7 inpatients and 6 Hotel patients on B, D ward is about the same, so one charge covered both for the evening. A ward is in the process of being bleached. We counted narcs and passed off the keys, prayed together with the day volunteers, then handed off patients while curtains got put up with magnets to block out the lights around the desk. As soon as we finished, I started a round of vitals and assessments to try and get them done before people fell asleep. I heard someone speaking english and laughter from the other side of the ward, and quickly realized that Anna had popped by for a visit. Two of my patients were out walking the halls for exercise. I continued my assessments and chatted a bit with Anna.

I sang out "so long, farewell..." to Anna as she left and she joined in, and the patients laughed at us, because we're justifiably weird. Then the patient said... something... I didn't bother to get it translated, because I knew she was continuing to find our actions funny and that's all I needed to know. Two minutes after Anna left as I was trying to tidy things up a bit and realizing that once again, there were about 3 layers of things such as drums, tray tables and chairs all blocking access to the crash cart, I was suddenly being hugged from behind. 2.3 seconds to analyze arms and wait for a comment and I realized it was Laura, ending her charge shift and making sure I was fine for the night and updated on everything. As we chatted I realized my 7 year old hotel patient (staying here to be close to care for follow up appointment but isn't "officially" a patient) had slowly been edging closer and closer to the edge of the bed. He already has one broken arm and I didn't trust him not to tumble out of the unguardrailed bed, so I went over and moved him back up against the wall. He opened his eyes and looked at me, but stayed where I put him and soon drifted back to sleep. After a few last things to discuss, Laura went home for the night and I got my charting done. I waved over the first interpreter to wander back into the ward and set him to work clearing the area in front of the crash cart.

Hannah wandered in to check on a patient that she was crocheting a headband for, but the patient was asleep already, so she left. One of the day workers came in with a big bowl of popcorn that he said was from Dward. I don't say no to popcorn.

My one patient with an IV wandered over to me, showing me the drips coming down the tubing. Sadly, the hard plastic IV fluid bottles don't pair well with the tubing that doesn't vent, but when that's all you have then it's what you use. So I tried explaining it in french, but as he had a bit of a confused look on his face, I waved over a translator and explained it all again, that as long as the inside part was flowing fine, we would ignore the mess of a puddle from the outside dripping. He seemed okay with that.

Vitals, assessments, charting and tidying all finished and now I can relax.  Time to check email, drink my coffee that I bought earlier in the evening and had kept in a cup that keeps it warm all evening for me, and eat my sandwich.  A little bit of email and pinterest later, Hannah popped in with her completed headband and a request to be woken if the patient was being discharged tomorrow. Then she offered to bring me some tea... of course I said yes! (sensing a theme?  friends offer food, I say yes! hehehe)

And now here I am, whiling away my time on the computer, boring you with my day!!! I hope this gives you a small idea of what life is like here.  I left out about 2 other people that popped their heads into the ward for other things, but you get the basics.  It's much busier on the wards at other times of the year, but we are now finished with surgeries and slowly winding down.  Closing up ward by ward and cleaning as we go.  In less than a week, we close the hospital and then its the final clean and pack up.  Wow!  Can't believe it's almost done!!!

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