Toxic work environment

Well, I guess it was my turn. I got to have my day with the toxic coworker.

It came out of nowhere to be honest. I was LITERALLY just sitting there working on the inpatient list and behind me I hear:

“F*ucking lazy nurses” and “nurses never get off their lazy @ssess” and my personal fave, “they are delaying patient care!”

Now, this is coming from one of the supervisors. I am fuming! However, instead of leadership stopping this behavior from continuing I was told to keep calm and just ignore it.

Now if at this point you are glaring at your screen like, “WTF?”, I am pretty sure I had the same look at that moment.

I decided to go up my chain of command and apparently it went up their chain as well. I mean, did this person really think I was going to let them say such disrespectful things and not say anything? Apparently, they did.

So now there is this toxic work environment once the shift changes. The awkwardness is palpable. Communication between the nurses and the technologists changes. There is still hostility that can be felt. Unfortunately, a lot of the vibe change is spurred on by the supervisor that started all this . I have been told that this person rolls their eyes when I am walking away. They avoid speaking to me. They refuse eye contact. In a sense, they avoid me at all costs.

Honestly, I don’t understand why we are dragging this on. Toxicity benefits no one. It leads to an “us vs them” type of feeling. I am hoping as time goes by the toxic feeling will begin to leave our department. It is hard to work in a truly toxic work environment. A department can’t function like that for very long. We can either rise above or get sucked in and weighed down. I think there are enough of us there that will fight to rise above it… at least I hope so.

Guinea pig

After all of that worrying, I have gotten the COVID vaccine.

I did research for weeks, printed out article after article, read whatever I could on the CDC website, and talked to my co-workers that have gotten the shot.

I am being the guinea pig for my family. My family (as was I) has been distrustful of the vaccine. I decided I would be the first and let them know how it has been. I want to do my part in trying to get this pandemic under control. Once I get the second vaccine done I will discuss with my family about getting theirs as well.

I am trusting the science. I am trying to be a good role model for my family, and hopefully others in the black community, to follow. I’m trying to do the right thing.

The vaccine is here, why I haven’t gotten it yet…

Two vaccines have arrived to help with this COVID outbreak, one from Pfizer and one from Moderna. I have signed up for neither.

I know as a nurse I should be one of the first to get out there and get vaccinated. However, I still have questions that I needed answers for and only recently have I starting finding the answers. I wanted to know more about side effects, how many participated in the studies, how is the vaccine supposed to work?

There is also one other thing that has been holding me back; I am black and I have an inherent distrust of the medical system, the very system I am a part of as a nurse. Learning about things such as the “Tuskegee experiment”, seeing how many times the healthcare system has failed black women, seeing in person how implicit bias plays a role in how medical professionals treat people of color, realizing that there was only a small amount of people of color (9.8%) were actually in the Pfizer study, all make me wary.

I want to trust the science behind the vaccine. I want to trust the medical system. I want to believe in the potential of finally getting this pandemic under control. I also want to feel safe.

How have we not fixed this yet?

It’s November, why is COVID no where near under control? How is it WORSE? Why are we as a nation not able to wear a mask and wash our damn hands? How are people still claiming it’s not real as people continue to die? Better yet, let’s skip the science and say people can be immune!
Let’s just ignore the nurses and docs, you know the frontline heroes and risk the medical field being so overwhelmed that PPE and ICU space become scarce again.

As a nurse, I’m tired. I’m scared. I’m frustrated. I don’t want to keep seeing the number of COVID deaths increase. I don’t want to see the numbers of positive citizens climbing at a record rate. I’m don’t want to keep getting emails about how many staff members have tested positive. I’m over the phone calls, after the ICU patient has left MRI and gone back to their unit, from some nurse telling us the patient is now positive for COVID and we have been exposed. I’ve had a COVID test, they suck. It should not still be this bad. As the leader of the free world, how have we let it get this bad? Why in God’s name have we let a virus become political?!

HUMAN LIFE IS BEING LOST!!!

Are other medical professionals struggling with this? Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, is anyone else on the frontlines having a hard time too? Feel free to leave a comment with how you’re feeling right now.

The frustration with University of Facebook

I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it.

The posts FULL of misinformation about COVID: who is most affected, how it’s spread, magical yet TOTALLY UNSUBSTANTIATED treatments, it’s enough to make a nurse want to flip a table!

I let go of Facebook years ago because of the stuff I would see on my time line. People seem to think that if someone says that someone major said it, it must be true! They offer no evidence, no background information, no research data, just whatever they think is true. And goodness, do NOT try to provide evidenced based information about why what they said isn’t true, then you’re a “sheep” or you’re gullible.

Think about that: you’re gullible for looking up evidence, but they aren’t gullible for placing their faith in a Facebook post.

That’s where we are now, folks.

To all my nurses and other medical professionals, if your education is falling on deaf ears, let it go. You have done what you can do. Don’t waste your time arguing with people on so I media about how unsafe their posts are. It’s not worth it. Your sanity, however, is very worth it. Continue to be safe for yourself and continue to institute measures to keep your family safe. That’s your priority.

Have any of you seen something online that made you want to scream?

Exhausted

Does anyone come home exhausted from work? Not just physically exhausted but emotionally exhausted.

It feels like I pulled a 24 hour shift when I get home. I’m so tired, all I want to do is retreat from the world and sleep. Between the constant news about COVID 19, people refusing to wear masks, new outbreaks in states, more unarmed black people being murdered by cops, “Karen’s” throwing fits and calling the cops for nothing, children being caught in the crossfire of shootings, it’s all too much for me.

It feels like I’m overwhelmed all the time. I feel weighed down a lot.

So I decided to turn off the news, stay off social media, talk to my therapist, watch my nerd shows, and play my switch.

I am doing the things that help me relax and release the stress. I have a habit of carrying way too much weight on my shoulders. If I don’t let go, I just end up exhausted to the core.

How are you feeling? How do you release the stress?

I am a nurse… But I am black first.

I am watching the protests around this country and realizing just how little people knew about the racism that black people still experience. I have sat in my department and listened to people complain about the protests without understanding what it is we are protesting.

We want justice and equality as a people!

I quickly realized that while I will always be a nurse, which I have always seen as my identity, I am black first.

My mind goes back to all those times I’ve had patients hand me their trash because they thought I was EVS, even though I wear the same ciel blue as all their previous nurses. I go back to the times where my patient assumed I was the tech and my white tech was the nurse, and looked almost dismayed when my tech corrected them. I go back to being called “n*gger” multiple times by patients who saw no issue with using the word and fully meant it as an insult. I go back to being the only black nurse on a shift and not being included in conversations.

I realize that I am a nurse but I have always been black first.

I am proud to be black.

I am proud to be a nurse.

Both of those things are a part of me, they are intertwined.

Instead of being angry at comments based on ignorance of what is really happening, I have started educating my coworkers. I am speaking on the black experience in this country. I now speak up about what police mean to black individuals. I speak on our experiences. I talk to my coworkers about racism at its core.

I don’t want to be the “angry black woman”, I want to be the black woman that educates on the black perspective.

I am a black nurse, I carry black experiences, I will not carry them quietly.

2020, AKA, The Apocalypse

It feels like the end of the world. Healthcare workers on the front lines of a pandemic having to fight for appropriate PPE, hospital administration firing staff for speaking out, medical professionals being sick and still told to come to work, it’s chaos.

They call us heroes in the outside world but we are disposable to the inside leaders. This pandemic has shown me how far some hospitals are willing to go to save money on supplies.

Employees are getting sick with COVID, and still come to work because they can’t afford to stay home.

This isn’t okay. Hospital administration needs to get up out of their plush chairs, step out of their lush offices, and come see what it’s really like out here.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a rant about being called heroes. People really want to call us heroes, and I thank everyone for that. However just know that title also includes EVS, lab techs, CNA’s, PCT’s, transporters, cafeteria workers, pharmacy, scrub techs in the OR, and everyone else that helps a hospital run smoothly.

Let’s hope administration learns to see all of us as heroes, and treat us like it.

It’s hit home

I have been following COVID-19 since December when I first heard about it, and it was still being called the “Wuhan Flu”. Reading what the CDC is saying, reading WHO recommendations, reading articles about it, and so on.

But it was over there and I am over here. I kept up with the information but it remained at a distance to me. I was curious as we nurses are, but I wasn’t yet concerned. It hadn’t hit home.

And then that started to change. First Washington state. Curiousity turned to slight concern because now it’s on home soil… but still it was over there on the west coast and I am over here safely on the east coast. Then it hit California. Now I’m following it far more closely because it’s spreading. However, somehow in my mind I was still safe. That’s when I started hearing about cases in Florida. Okay, now it’s over here but it’s states away.

I’m still safe.

And then it hit Washington DC.

It hit home.

It was only a 2 hour drive away. That’s when I began closely following everything. I’m watching the news, I’m reading all the WHO and CDC updates. I’m trying to learn all I can. It hadn’t yet hit my city though and there was still that little idea that I was somehow still safe.

That idea dissolved when I heard about the case in one of the hospitals in my area. More cases followed. Now my hospital is dealing with cases and it’s a nightmare. We are now rationing masks. We have to be mindful of how many antimicrobial wipes we use because there is a limit on how many containers of wipes we can get a day. The department I am in cares for inpatients and outpatients so our risk of exposure is high. The ER is at the front line. God bless those providers. Visitation has been suspended. People are being screened before walking into the hospital now. I’m no longer concerned, I’m officially rattled to my core. It feels like things are spiraling out of control and as a nurse that’s a big no-no! States are having to go into quarantine. We haven’t hit that yet but I don’t think it’s far away. It feels unreal, like a movie almost. People are panic buying everything. I can’t find a roll of toilet paper anywhere. I had to go to two stores to find garlic…GARLIC! Who panic buys garlic?

The panic and fear is real.

It’s serious and we need to make sure we are taking it seriously. My colleagues and I have been making sure to teach patients proper hand washing techniques. We are all trying to send each other health care memes to keep our spirits up.

It’s not been great for my anxiety.

I can only hope and pray that we start to get things back under control. I hope humanity can band together and get through this as one. I hope we see that the differences between us are nothing in the grand scheme of things. I hope we as a people come out of this better than we were before.

Just my opinion…

So today an older patient came with his grandson who was translating for him. As the grandson sat in my waiting area while his grandfather was getting his test I witnessed an awkward convo, involving another person it sounded like this:

“He looks Indian!” (referring to the patient)

“Yeah I can see that, we are from Bangladesh.”

“How do you like America?”

“😐…oh I was born here 😑. I’m 21 so America is what I know, but I like it.”

Now, the person asking about where he was from (because he just couldn’t be from here) was an older person. I know that they tend to have a very narrow view of the world. I get that. However, I really hate it when people assume that people of foreign descent weren’t born here. He literally had no accent from any other country. He spoke English as well as any “red blooded American” I have ever met. It’s a bit backwards to me to think that because someone doesn’t look “Caucasian ” or “African American” they just have to be from some other country. We are a country with a multitude of nationalities, that’s what makes things so interesting. I just wish people would maybe think before they speak.