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Tools for Surviving Night Shift

Most nurses are creatures of habit. We develop routines before going to work, have routines while at work, and have routines when we get home. How many can relate to this?? This week was my first week back on the job. I’m a night shift nurse by heart.  I like the pace, people, and pay.

I reluctantly started night shift on my first travel assignment in 2006. It was not by choice, but after a week of nausea and confusion, I was hooked! There isn’t the constant buzz and whir that one experiences on day shift in a hospital. Nights are great for those of us who become easily distracted, as long as you can stay awake.

Working nights is no joke when it comes to the effects it has on the body.  More and more research is finding a connection between shift work and increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, and insomnia.  That’s why it’s so important to try to make sleeping well, eating well, and exercising a part of life.  Don’t get me wrong, I eat chips and drink soda sometimes, but it’s all about balance.  I try (keyword try) to limit the junk to one day a week.

I thought I’d share some of my routines for surviving night shift. It’s a process that is years in the making, thus time tested.

Stay hydrated

I usually have one or two cups of tea before work.  It gives a little pick me up and has the added advantage of antioxidants.  I might have a cup of tea on my first break at work too as well, but I have a rule of no caffeine too late for fear of interfering with my sleep.  I also pre hydrate with water before work in case it’s so crazy busy I don’t have time initially to drink.   Every chance I get, I drink a glass of water.

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Sleep

It’s so essential to sleep and sleep well. Whatever it takes. I know that my bedroom has to be as dark as possible and cool. If the temperature is off even by a degree or two I can sense it. I use an eye pillow filled with flax seed and lavender (highly recommend). Eye pillows block all light, can relieve headaches and eye tension, and allow for a deep state of relaxation. The weight of the flax seed in the eye pillow is said to add needed acupressure points around the eyes. The added benefit of lavender has a further calming effect.

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My homemade lavender eye pillow with flax seed. Highly recommend!!

Eat

I eat healthiest actually on the nights I work. I know my body needs the best fuel possible to stay alert. I eat dinner at home before going in. Baked salmon with a garlic yogurt sauce is my favorite. Both are high in protein and hold me almost the entire night. I bring fruit, nuts, and sometimes yogurt as well to snack on all night. The nuts and yogurt give the energy I need and hold me for a while, plus it is easy to eat quickly if needed.

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My favorite dish!!! Organic Norwegian Salmon with Couscous and a garlic yogurt sauce. Yum!!!

Exercise

I practice yoga nearly every day, sometimes it is only fifteen minutes with my legs up the wall with my eye pillow and deep breaths, sometimes it is a full invigorating practice that challenges my strength and endurance. It depends on how I am feeling that particular day.

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Viparita Karani, my favorite yoga pose. Perfect for stress relief, headache relief, and to ease into sleep. Should be a daily routine in the life of a nurse. Contraindicated for those with high blood pressure, glaucoma, or severe neck/back injury. Use your own discretion. Try for 5-15 minutes and let me know what you think!!

Stay busy

As we all know, this is usually not a problem. We are often faced with an admission or a decline in our patient’s status when we are most tired (right around 5 am). I usually have a routine of cleaning everything around my patient early in the shift. As I get more tired, if I have nothing patient related to do, I clean and stock.

What are your routines???  Would love to hear!!

Our Nurse Changed Our Lives

August 11, 2015

Posts like these remind us why we do what we do ❤

AWHONN Connections

Jessica_Familyby, Jessica Grenon

When I think back to the birth of my second child earlier this year, tears almost instantly begin to fill my eyes.

Unlike the birth of my first child three years prior, this isn’t because I am overjoyed by thoughts of holding my baby against my chest for the first time while I stare in awe at the life my husband and I created, a life that I grew in my own body and delivered into the world after many, many hours of hard labor. Instead my eyes fill with tears because I think of my labor and delivery nurse and how I believe her actions on that day affected the trajectory of my life, my son’s life, and the future of our family.

I am not a nurse, I don’t even work in the medical industry, but for the past nine years come June my work…

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Everything is Hard Before it is Easy

August 2, 2015

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Hej allihoppa (hi everyone)!!!!  Here is a nice little affirmation for those in need.  No words ring truer.  Life is a relative struggle sometimes.  Are we making the right decisions?  Why not take the path of least resistance?  What will others think?  Most of us have had to work very hard to get where we are or where we want to be.  Stay true to yourself, ignore the naysayers, stay determined and positive, and chances are you will reap the benefits ❤

Normalizing Breastfeeding

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Yay Target!!! So proud of Target for stepping up and supporting breastfeeding women!  Let me start by saying, as a baby nurse, I support a woman’s right to feed her baby however she can/wishes.  I think it’s equally important that a breastfeeding mother have options while out and about.  There is a stigma still associated with breastfeeding in public places.  In the U.S., many women are faced with feeding in a toilet stall in a public restroom.  It makes me cringe!! My sister and I were at Target today and her two week old woke up for a feeding.  It was her first outing since Mollie was born, so she had planned to take her to the car for feedings.  She had, however, heard that breastfeeding moms take precedence in the dressing rooms at Target and sure enough she was right.   The women’s side was full, so she was given a fitting room on the men’s side, no questions asked!!!!  Paula, a Target employee in Port Orange, Florida, went out of her way to provide my sister with  the largest room.  Thank you!!!

From the Perspective of the Patient

July 22, 2015

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Sheila, super neonatal nurse friend, “catching” Mollie Iris

I never stepped foot inside a hospital until nursing school. No broken bones, no surgery, no severe illness. I’ve been one of the very few fortunate. Having health is one of the most important possessions in life.

Despite so little experience as a patient myself, I always try to be empathetic with my patients and their families.  I have recently had the  opportunity to see the hospital from the point of view of patient and family.  My baby sister gave birth to a little girl.

My sister had her scheduled weekly OB check up with Dr. John Meyers at OB-GYN Health Center in Daytona Beach. He is one of a growing group of doctors in the area that supports VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I recommended him to my sister in large part because she wanted to try for a VBAC, but also because I had been to many of Dr. Meyers’ deliveries as a graduate nurse working at Halifax Medical Center. He was always calm, confident, and had the best bedside manner.

What we thought would be a routine check up quickly turned into high blood pressure, protein in the urine, elevated liver enzymes,  and low platelets  resulted in a repeat C-section (caesarean). It is called preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome (for the nonmedical peeps), a dangerous myriad of symptoms that develop in some women under pregnancy where the only treatment is delivery of the baby.

This was sadly my sister’s second go around with preeclampsia and HELLP that unfortunately took precedence over having the natural birth she had wished for.  Ultimately the most important thing was that the outcome for both her and her baby was positive.

From the moment we walked in the door to the labor and delivery unit, I knew my sister was safe and well cared for.  Maybe it was in large part that I had walked these halls hundreds of times as a new nurse years ago.  I knew their routines.  I still recognized so many faces.  This was my “home” hospital.  The charge nurse (my first preceptor as a new grad), Nancy, was the first to come into the room.  She was exactly as I remembered her, outgoing and funny, which brought light to a heavy feeling in the room.  She identified herself, explained that Mandy’s nurse would be in shortly, and that she would help her get settled in the meantime.  The little things.

Ilze, Mandy’s labor nurse, soon joined the birthday party.  We were lucky to get two super nurses for the price of one as Ilze was orienting Cathy, an equally experienced nurse.  They explained in detail what would happen with regard  to preparation for the caesarean.  They both had a calm demeanor that reflected years of experience.  Calm was just what was needed as my sister anxiously contemplated her second C-section.  The little things.

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Ilze checking in on Mollie and Mandy

I often refer to “the little things” in my writing that I think matter most to a patient.  They don’t remember if we gave their antibiotic on time, that we charted their daily progress.  What they remember are the little things.  Mandy, my sister, remembers that the anaesthesiologist in the O.R. (sensing she was nervous) encouraged my brother in law to take her hand as they started the C Section.  My brother in law, Sean, remembers that Sheila (my super neonatal nurse friend) took the time to allow him to cut what remained of the umbilical cord.  Sheila brought a bit of normalcy in the otherwise sterile, cold, frightening, and, unfamiliar environment that is an operating room.  Mandy remembers that Sheila then placed her little girl directly skin to skin in the operating room while Dr. Meyers was still working on her.  I remember receiving updates from Nancy and a respiratory therapist outside the O.R. while we (the family) paced the halls in anticipation.  The little things.

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Sean, so happy to cut the cord for the first time
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Sheila taking time in her busy day for a photo op.
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Mother and daughter meet for the first time. Skin to skin in the operating room.

As part of the treatment of preeclampsia, my sister was administered an intravenous drip of Magnesium Sulfate for approximately 20 hours after delivery.  It is a life saving drug that prevents seizures in the preeclamptic patient, but has some terrible side effects of which my sister experienced flushing, confusion, visual disturbances, and a “strange twilight” feeling.  She was restricted to her hospital bed for the duration of treatment (20 hours).  Can you imagine the challenge of trying to care for, feed, and, nurture your newborn while heavily drugged and bed bound?  It is no easy recovery!  My sister is my hero ❤

Her recovery and postpartum nurses made her as comfortable as possible.  Joy, the night shift nurse, checked Mandy’s reflexes hourly as required when a patient is being treated with Magnesium Sulfate.  She made sure that Mandy was pain free, had plenty of clear liquids to her liking, and that she was beginning to regain feeling in her legs post spinal.  I stayed the first two nights helping out and recall hearing Joy’s sweet, nurturing voice in the quiet of the night checking in on us.  The little things.

It was with the help of this group of amazing nurses, Dr. Meyers, and the surgical team that my sister’s delivery and postpartum period in the hospital (though physically difficult) will be remembered positively.    I am proud to say that I trained as a graduate nurse here and still carry with me some of the most fundamental and essential skills of nursing that I learned here.  The little things.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart ❤

Happy Belated Father’s Day 💗

June 27, 2015

My Dad, proud Marine and gardener 💗🇺🇸
My Dad, proud Marine and gardener 💗🇺🇸

Hi everyone!!  It’s been a little while.  I caught a nasty virus in London and have spent my first 10 days in Florida getting over it.  It’s nice in a sense because I have spent most of my time home with my dad. I just turned 40, but it’s amazing that he still manages to make me feel 12 as soon as I walk in the door.  “I picked up your almond milk, honey,” or “I’ve been getting the house ready for you,” are his usual welcoming words.

Home 🌴 A papaya tree dad grew from a twig.
Home 🌴
A papaya tree dad grew from a twig.

My dad is an interesting fellow.  Someone should write a book about him.  He is a symbol of the Anerican dream, an idea I think rarely exists anymore.  He has worked hard for everything he has. He was born a sharecropper’s son in the cotton fields of Mississippi (thus the green thumb).  One of twelve children, he worked his father’s fields often missing school in the process.  It was in those moments he yearned for education.

Dad, like all his siblings, has a green thumb.  I did not inherit it.
Dad, like all his siblings, has a green thumb. I did not inherit it.

A run away at the age of 13 (too long a story), he worked with one goal in mind, to get his education.  After four years of service in the Marines, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill and began studying .  He studied at one of the most prestigious schools in the U.S., Columbia University.

To say he has lived the dream is an understatement.  He came from nothing, educated himself, raised a family and became a successful businessman.  I couldn’t be more proud of my dad.  Happy Father’s Day ❤

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London!!!

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Hello from London! I’ve been here for five days now. I tagged along with my boyfriend who has a work conference, so I have been spending most of my time exploring this amazing city alone.

I have always had a crippling fear of getting lost. I have no internal compass. Tackling and conquering a gigantic city like London is a huge accomplishment for me!! I may have taken the wrong turn here and there and had to turn around, but ultimately found my way. It’s a perfect analogy in life. Sometimes we feel lost, take the wrong turn, maybe go off the beaten path, but ultimately find our own way.

London Eye
London Eye
Cliche picture of phone booth.
Cliche picture of London phone booth
It is important to look both ways before crossing the road, but if you choose to look only one way, be sure it is the right way.
It is important to look both ways before crossing the road, but if you choose to look only one way, be sure it is the right way