Friday, February 22, 2008

The Longest Day

What would be officially known as the longest day of my life finally ended at 10:00 pm last night. I had been up and about for 18 hours, struggling to accomplish one task after another.

The day started at 4:00 am. I woke up, silenced the blaring alarm clock, and wiped the sleep from my eyes. I had but a few minutes to prepare. I gathered my RLE kit, Thermo tray, Lab gown, and my backpack. My immaculate uniform hung at the back of the door, and my shoes shined to perfection.

Taking a shower early morning had me shivering. I hurried and changed despite the cold, and stepped outside the house. The full moon greeted me as I walked about 50 meters to the highway, with my Thermo tray and RLE kit on my right hand and my white coat to be worn over my uniform draped on my left.

I arrived at the Hospital at 5:00am, with my stomach grumbling. I had not had time to have breakfast- but I wasn’t worried about that, I was worried about attending the morning endorsement and the rounds.

I was finally given a patient. A little boy of 10, who came down with Dengue fever. They had come from Sogod, Southern Leyte, which was a three hour drive from Tacloban. I proceeded to check the boy’s vital signs whilst he was sleeping. Normal. According to his mother he had fever yesterday in the afternoon, but it had already subsided. The IV fluid was almost empty.

I stayed with them for the entire shift, finishing the Comprehensive Health History by interviewing the mother, while assisting in any way possible such as helping the boy eat his breakfast, assisting his mother who did a half-bath, doing environmental sanitation, and other simple tasks such as getting hot water. Being a student nurse, I was neither allowed to sit or eat or accept an invitation from the client to sit or eat.

After my shift, a couple of my mates decided to have a meal. We went over our experiences on the second day of our hospital exposure; laughing over our novice mistakes- it would not be uncommon to hear something like:

Student 1: “What’s the respiration rate?”

Student 2: “80.”

Student 1 hisses: “Are you crazy? He’s not tachycardic! Check again!”

Student 2: “Shit, I think that was the pulse rate. I’ll check again for the respiration.”

Student 1: “Are you going to auscultate his chest?”

Student 2: “Nah, I can observe the rise and fall of his chest.”

Then Student 1 smiles at the significant other of the patient, trying unsuccessfully to hide his nervousness.

After satisfying my hunger, I went home to change. Time for Swimming class. Today was no ordinary meeting- we had two practical exams- Butterfly Stroke and Breast Stroke. I was able to swim the entire length of the 50 meter pool, and back again to demonstrate the two strokes.

Unexpectedly, our Instructor made us an offer- if we do the IM (Individual Medley) and perform correctly, we need not show up for the following meetings, and the final grade would automatically be 1.0. I felt confident since all my practical exams for Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly, and Breast Stroke all got a perfect score. Little did I know that my exhaustion from the hospital duty would come to haunt me.

I started with the Buttterfly stroke for the first 50 meters, returning with Backstroke for another 50. While swimming the Breast Stroke, I managed to swallow mouthfuls of pool water. My legs were starting to cramp. I reached the end of the pool, and returned for the last 50 meters. It was Freestyle, supposed to be the easiest. At this point my energy was depleted. Each arm felt like a ton of weight, and my legs ached as I did the flutter kick. I seriously thought I was going to drown, but I kept going.

“A meter more, a meter more, a meter more…” I kept telling myself as my lungs screamed for oxygen. Finally my fingers touch the tiles. I have competed the medley- and my final grade? 1.0!

Alas, the victory was dampened by the next two classes. A lecture in our Healthcare (in which I forced myself to recite at least three times in hopes I’d be exempt from the graded recitation for the Finals) had me dozing off at least twice. The final class for the day and for the week was the formidable Microbiology and Parasitology lecture. The class was 5:30 to 8:30 in the evening, and by this time I was “empty batt” already. I managed to survive the lecture and the quiz on Non-lactose Fermentors, and just when I thought I would go crazy, we were finally dismissed.

I hurried home, dropped my things at the floor of my bed, and blacked out.


John Halcyon von Rothschild said...

OMG! That is one loooonggg day! Go get some rest! Then again nurses have long days and lots of energy. My mom used to do 12 hour shifts at the hospital when I was young then have enough energy to cook, clean, and help with my homework. =)

Phoenix said...

@ JHVR: Your mom must be a superwoman! All moms are, actually. My respect for nurses tripled after that long day = )

Mink said...

jusme, sobra naman yang sked mo thad...

ang health wag pabayaan...


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