High tension, and blowing off a little steam.
There can be no doubt that nursing is a high-stress, intense profession. But
sometimes, even nurses can find a few moments for a little bit of fun
and humour on the job.
Sandie Rentz recalls one of her favourite moments to laugh out loud! Sandy
was orienting a new nurse one night, and one of the standard jobs was
to clean the patients' dentures. Every night this task
had to be completed; but once a week, an extra good soak was needed. Sandy
left her trainee to the task and when she returned, some thing very
funny, if not a little distressing, had happened.
"...I came back and here she had emptied everyone's
denture containers into a massive bowl - everyone's was
in there together. I walked in a just sort of froze, and I said, "What
are you doing?" And then she said, "I'm cleaning
the dentures." And I said, "But now whose are - you
know, how are we going to know whose are whose?"
Sandie says for someone new it was an honest mistake. But still,
it had to be dealt with. Sandie had to tell the cooks to make
soft food for the patients, and a dentist was brought in to hit each
patient until the right dentures were matched to each person. Sandie
recalls that cleaning the patient's dentures was all part of
the personal care - something she's not sure nurses today
have the time to do.
Holly Heffernan says it is getting tougher to find time to let off
steam - because nurses are so run off their feet and the patient
loads are so high. However, one of her favourite ways was to
have a water fight!
"We would be working hard all night and finally getting rid
of the last patient or whatever and we'd be making beds or whatever,
cleaning up, and we'd sort of start a water fight... A few
of us would get wet and you'd sit down and think, "Ahh,
that was great. Now, I'm ready to start off on the next
one, whoever comes in the door, we are ready for you.""
Jane Sustrik remembers taking the fun a little further - especially
around the time of someone's birthday.
"There's times, you know, whoever's birthday it
was, we'd tape them to a stretcher. This is - most of the
fun happened on nights when patients are sleeping, right? But
you'd tape them to the stretcher and put them in the elevator,
those kinds of things."
Jane says the nurses were always professional, and the jokes were
in good spirit and harmless. She remembers when one was put over
on her nursing unit.
"I remember, the one aid we had in the burn unit... one
day he took the old phones that you could unscrew the receiver parts
and he put garlic in there without us knowing, right? We were
always trying to get each other. And we'd be, like, "What
is that smell around here?"
Jane recalls those moments as the outlets that nurses used to deal with
the stress and the kinds of illnesses and crisis staff in hospitals are
forced to deal with. She says it was hard for nurses not to take
those things home. To deal with it, sometimes it was good to talk. But,
sometimes, for nurses who can find a few seconds, the best medicine definitely