October 26, 2009
7:30 pm – I wake up to find a stack of mail outside my bedroom door. I quickly look through it for anything interesting, then I shower and dress. The rest of the household is already preparing for bed. After eating some leftovers from supper, I spend some time reading my Bible and praying. One of the chapters I read is Psalm 133 about brethren dwelling together in unity. My mind trailed back to memories of breaking up fights at my last job. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore! Unity is a rare thing, but entirely possible with God. I especially pray for work tonight because I’m not sure what I’ll be facing once I get there.
9:30 pm – A couple of my brothers are still awake, so I go downstairs and talk with them a little. I pack up some leftovers for a midnight meal, check e-mail, and put away laundry. Then I sort through my mail again, discard most of it, and wonder why next month’s work schedule hasn’t arrived yet.
10:30 pm – I grab my backpack and a coat and step outside into the cold night air. The temperature is in the 30′s, very typical for fall. It’s a clear night with an amazing view of the stars. I’m thankful for every night I don’t have to drive through rain, snow, ice, or fog.
I work for a nursing agency that provides private duty nursing care for children with major medical needs. Right now, I am the main night nurse for a child who lives an hour from my home. I work 10 hours per shift, 4 days per week. That means 8 hours of driving time every week, so I’m thankful that the CD player in the car was recently fixed so I can listen to CD’s on my commute. Right now I’m listening to a biography of Oswald Chambers.
Very few cars are on the road as I drive across town to the 2-lane highway that will take me almost directly to my place of work. I do meet a line of cars on my way out of town, probably shift workers from the local factories.
Nothing unusual greets me on my long, quiet drive. The small towns I drive through seem deserted at this time of night. At one point, I pull over to let a police car with flashing lights pass me. There is a lot more crime in rural Nebraska than most people think, so law enforcement is always out in full force at night. I think I normally see about half a dozen police cars on my way to work at night.
I pass some of the same road kills I saw this morning – at least there weren’t any skunks!
11:30 pm – When I arrive at the home, I pause a brief moment to admire the scene of the windmill and red barn against a background of stars. The air is fresh and crisp. Inside, I chat with the mom briefly and get a report about how the day went. Things are better than I expected, which makes me thankful. The mom heads off to bed, leaving me with my little patient for the night.
Some people think home care nursing is easy, but there is much more work involved than you would think. First, I perform and chart a thorough, detailed physical assessment. I perform the initial cares my patient needs, check the chart for any changes, wipe down equipment, and take note of anything new or different that needs to be done on this shift. The first hour passes quickly. After the initial tasks are done, I have some down time to read and even do a little handwork. Sometimes there is so much work to do that even my patient’s sleeping hours give me little time to rest, but this night promises to be a quiet one.
3:00 am – I take a break to eat my night-time meal, squash and soybean soup. It’s good. I am interrupted every couple of minutes, however, by my patient’s needs. It’s an intensive care situation, so I have to be on my toes at all times. I’m glad all the equipment is working tonight. Last night the pulse oximeter broke down for an hour because a connector got wet. I was able to get it working again by using a hair dryer on it, but it did have me worried for a while!
3:45 am – I open one of my Russian textbooks and study a page. It’s been years since I have had time to do this on a regular basis. I also read a little bit of Gold by Moonlight by Amy Carmichael. It’s the kind of book you should read very slowly.
4:15 am – More charting. Besides the full sheet I fill out for the physical assessment, I also fill at least one 8 x 11 sheet of paper with nurses’ notes. Every little detail has to be written down, otherwise legally it wasn’t done! Morning is coming fast, so I spend time cleaning equipment and putting my own things away.
5:30 am – I get my patient up and start the morning routime. I chat with the mom when she gets up and give her a report on how the night went. My morning is usually filled with exercises, therapy, administering tube feedings and medications, and more charting.
8:30 am – During a lull in the morning’s activities, I grab a little breakfast for myself. Outside the window I see horses grazing. It’s a bright, cool fall morning. I get some toys out and fill the rest of my time with playing, cleaning equipment, and finishing paperwork.
9:30 am – The day nurse arrives. I give her a report on how the night went. We talk about paperwork a little bit, then I gather my things and leave.
Often, I see interesting wildlife alongside the highway. Sometimes there is a flock of turkeys on the side of the road, and a pheasant races across the highway every now and then. Today all I see is a hawk in the sky and the same roadkills I saw last night. (I’ll spare you the gory details. )
10:30 am – Upon arriving home, I quickly eat some breakfast leftovers and get to bed as fast as possible. Tonight I will get up and do this all over again. It’s a different life, but a very good one. Parents with severely disabled children usually have a difficult time finding help, and I’m glad I can be of service in this way. I’m helping to keep one more child out of an institution, and that makes me happy. It’s an opportunity to show real compassion – a rare thing even in a prosperous society. My nights at home are very different – I can take care of my own business and do housework during the quiet night hours, then spend time with my family and go places in the morning until I go to bed sometime around noon. I don’t know how long this will last, but for now, this is where God has me.