The Hostess With The Mostest

photo: jparadisi

It was a Saturday, my weekend “on” at the infusion clinic. Weekends are hit or miss: only a few patients needing daily IV antibiotics, or as busy as a weekday shift, which is how busy this shift was. My nurse colleagues, clever and cheerful, kept the mood of the shift lighthearted, however.

I don’t know if our positive attitudes contributed, or if it was the other way around, because our patients were also lighthearted. Considering we were spending a Saturday together in an oncology clinic, this speaks volumes about the resiliency of the human spirit.

On a whim, during a lull in the morning we served our patients buttered toast and juice. It was a modest, spontaneous celebration received with joy.

The shift ran long. Expected at a friend’s home for bubbles and small plates, I rushed to get ready.

I have written before: I don’t go out much.

Do other nurses find the sudden transformation from duty to party as unsettling as I do? A quick shower to remove any bacteria hitching a ride home from work; applying a new red lipstick to enliven my poor face that’s been up since O’Dark-Thirty, forcing my feet from comfy clogs into black pumps after standing on them for an eight-hour shift. Looking at the results in a mirror, I felt like a magician.

I’m glad I made the effort. My friend is The Hostess With The Mostest, and the party was fabulous, with platters of delicate finger foods, and chilled, sparkling wines. The guests were glamorous. I saw old friends, and met new ones. It was fun.

That particular Saturday, work and home life melded into a full day of celebration: first at work with colleagues and patients, then again in the evening with friends.

 “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Hospitals Are Not Restaurants

A Blank List photo: jparadisi 2012

My horoscope says today is a good day for diversion, but I disagree. This is one of those mornings I wake up with a to do list forming in my head, which means I am already behind. One of the things on the list is writing this post. Be charitable as you read it; I haven’t finished my coffee yet.

This feeling of being behind before the day begins is familiar in our home. David, a hospital pharmacist, and I work the same weekends, and this weekend we both worked the Saturday, Sunday, Monday stretch. For some reason, all hospitals I’m familiar with staff units lighter on weekends: no unit secretary, linens are not delivered, IT support is unavailable. Pharmacy has less support, meaning nursing waits for medications to arrive; everything slows down.

This mindset is a puzzlement. Why would weekends be more or less busy in a hospital than any other day of the week as if they are restaurants?  I’ve worked in food service. For restaurants, happy hours and dinners are consistently busier on Fridays and Saturdays than weekdays. Restaurants catering to the business lunch crowd are understandably busier Monday through Fridays.

People do not schedule how sick they are going to be according to the day of the week.

Granted, most doctors’ offices are closed, and surgeries are usually not scheduled on weekends. I get that. However, this leads to the proviso that people who are admitted for hospitalization are too critical to wait until Monday for surgery or treatment. Trauma and sepsis do not wait until the doctor is in. They keep the weekend health care team pretty damn busy.

I’m not complaining, just pointing out a reality of life in health care, by way of explaining today, our first day off, both David and I are feeling a little frazzled. The evidence of this is on our dining room table. Rather than a place for a leisurely, home cooked meal, over the weekend it has become a catchall for the implements of our trades: his messenger bag, my tote. Both of our notebooks charge quietly, their green LED lights reflected in the luster of the table’s finish. Valentine’s Day cards, still without a permanent home, remain on the table.  Although our home is a disorganized mess, there is love.

We’re out of food though. Add a grocery store run to the to do list.