3Cs: Coffee, Children, and Cancer

A new grad turned pediatric oncology nurses' jump into the fray…


Image Credit: The New Authors’ Fellowship

It’s my weekend to work, so I come in as usual ready to plow my way thru three twelves in a row. I look for my name on the assignment sheet—it’s not there so I figure I must be on the other side. I go to the other side of the unit and find my name. But instead of the usual patient last names and room numbers it says: “IsntSheLovlei: Unit ABC, 12 hrs.” What?!? I was being floated to another unit?!? Can I tell you how I just cardiac arrested right there at the nurses’ station for a couple of seconds? Had I even been a nurse long enough for them to just throw me to the wayside like that? I was just starting to spread my little wings in the world of cancer and chemo; I was not prepared for this monkey wrench.

So with pterodactyls in my stomach (you could hardly call them butterflies), I put on my famous poker face, gathered my stuff, and quietly headed for the elevator.

Tachycardic, I arrive at my destination, give the clerk my name and tell him that I’m a reassignment from onco. “Oh, right through there…they’re expecting you.” Gulp. I get my assignment, immediately noticing that it was more patients than I’m accustomed to having (I assume my own unit’s acuity to be a bit higher). My inner panic continues to brew. Charge introduces me to everyone, gives me a little tour of the unit, and thanks me profusely for coming to help them out. The knot in my stomach begins to loosen a little. Everyone’s really nice and willing to help—no eating of the young—or of the float. I even see a familiar face, a nurse that was floated down to my unit a couple of times. She was orienting another nurse but promised to check on me. One of my patients was even on meds I was already familiar with—I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see cefepime in my life. I was thinking, “Hey! I know that one!”

Of course it was a different unit so I expected them to do things, well, differently. But different doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. For instance, I loved how they did their vitals and assessments at 10, 2, and 6 instead of 8, 12, and 4 like most (if not all) of the other units in the hospital. Being able to come in, get change of shift report, do bedside checks, and have time (especially as a relatively new nurse who now found herself in a new environment) to sit down and synthesize some things—patient diagnosis/background, meds, plan of care, etcetera—without having to jump immediately into 8 o’ clock stuff was a dream. I’m definitely dropping that puppy into the suggestion box on my own unit.

There was also a nurse tech assigned to all of my patients so I already had a right hand (wo)man to help me out. She was only there until 11pm, then I was on my own. But by then I had built up a momentum; I knew where stuff was; the shell-shock had worn off. The clinical resource nurse and the charge nurse from my own unit even called to check on me to make sure I was okay, that my assignment was appropriate, etc. I felt better knowing that I hadn’t been totally forgotten, and a little less like I had been exiled from onco. So all in all, not a bad experience. Will I be jumping at the opportunity to do it again? Probably not. But now I can check that off the list of things I’ve done—I’ve been reassigned (*scary music*)…

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When the Nurse Becomes the Patient

I’m used to taking care of everyone else—my kids, my husband, and now my patients. That’s what I do. That’s who I am. It’s what I enjoy—it’s why I became a nurse.

But ignoring my own health and wellness, or at least putting it on the back burner in exchange for everyone else’s, has started to catch up with me.

Without getting too specific let’s just say I’m seeing more than my fair share of specialists right now trying to get myself back on track. And the co-pays…smdh.

I don’t like it. Especially because I don’t yet know what “it” is. To quote a dear family friend, “It is hard to fight when you don’t know your opponent.” Truer words were never spoken. She goes on to say that although her own diagnosis was devastating, “It was great to know I was not crazy and there was an actual thing that was wreaking havoc in my body.” Well I cannot wait to finally find out what my “thing” is so I can KICK. ITS. ASS.

But for now I have to turn a negative into a positive, and the silver lining is this—this can only make me a better nurse. I’m on both sides of the fence. Not that we’re not all patients from time to time, whether it’s for a well visit, or maybe a stomach bug, but this is a little different and more in-depth. Though I’m not inpatient or totally out of commission (knock on wood), all the doctors, the consults, the tests, the crappy days, the “what ifs” (which only intensify if you’re driving yourself nuts scouring the internet for answers)…trust me I get it—in a slightly different way than I did before.


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Happy Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day!

Image credit: http://www.aphon.org

May your commute be without traffic.

May parking spots be plenty.

May your assignment be manageable.

May you be able to eat and pee.

May pharmacy send your meds/chemo on time.

May your central lines flush fine and have great blood return.

May your two-year old patient not decide to disconnect his central lines—while they’re infusing continuous cytarabine.

May your patients be without emesis (especially after you just inserted a fresh NG tube).

May there be no CAT calls, codes, or other emergencies.

May you handoff your whole assignment to one nurse instead of three (don’t you love when that happens?).

Or better yet—may you be OFF today! 🙂

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