Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Hug Your Local Home Care Nurse

Here is how a home health nurse spends her day during a snowstorm of 12+ inches, a la Snowcopalyse.

I started my day yesterday by finding out that the boss had taken me up on my offer to be on call if the agency closed.  I found this out an hour and a half AFTER I started on call, because somehow they forgot to TELL me that they'd taken me up on it.  Oh well, that's fine.  They had other priorities, and no calls had come in.  No harm, no foul.  I did offer, after all.  The day wasn't too bad.  There were a few cranky people who didn't understand why we were closed, despite the governor's pleas for everyone to just stay home.  But that's ok too.  I'm used to cranky people -- I did phone triage for 15 years or so, after all.

So today, I got to start my day by doing labs on a patient at 6am.  Let's just use that time loosely, because although I was up at 5am, I didn't get out the door till 5:40 -- for a trip that, by Mapquest, should've taken 38 minutes.  It took an hour and 25 minutes. Once I got to her street, I realized that I couldn't see the house numbers.  NOTE:  please make sure for your own safety that your house number can clearly be seen from the street, both coming and going, in daylight AND at night.  It not only makes your nurse cranky if she can't find you, but it also is a safety issue if an ambulance or police can't figure out where you are.  I could not, for the life of me, find this lady's house.  I finally called and got the old "oh, we're the first house on the cul de sac.  There's a red truck in the driveway" routine.  Except not only could I not see a truck, I could see a cul de sac at all.  AT ALL.  Finally, the fourth or fifth time through this very small addition, she flashed her porch light at me.  AHA!  I could see her house, but still couldn't see the cul de sac, because snow had been plowed about four feet tall at least, and I didn't see an entry in the dark.  I finally found it -- a very narrow path -- and made it up to her house.  What a sweet lady she was.  I even got out of her driveway backing down that very narrow path with my 4 wheel drive.  My reverse skills have been keenly honed since my first year of home ownership, when I ran over two bikes and a boombox in the first summer.  It was a long, difficult driveway, with a big blind spot.  Today, I managed to get out of that tight spot with no problem, and headed to the next patient, who was supposedly ten minutes down the road.  More like twenty, really.

 I was concerned whether I could get down the patient's street, but he'd pleaded with the city and they had plowed.  Plowed, as in, plowed him in.  As in, the only way to get to his door was to plunge in feet first, where I promptly sunk almost up to the hip, whilst balancing my bag -- a sturdy duffle type gym bag.  I did have the good sense to leave my computer in the car -- a big no-no, but he's the only house on the street, and I didn't want to go plunging facefirst into the snow and lose the damn thing.

I knocked on his door, and it took several minutes for him to answer.  Mind you, it was a true -15 degrees outside, not including wind chill.  He finally came to the door, and asked me, very confused, why I was standing out in the cold instead of coming into the porch.  I just pointed at the bungee cord that was holding the door shut.  He laughed, let me in, the stopped and stared before he grabbed a broom and started sweeping me off.

Sweeping. Me. Off.

Not sweeping me off my feet, mind you.  Sweeping off my jeans -- yes, I wore jeans, because by golly, if I'm plunging out in that weather in the dark, and climbing through snowbanks, I'm wearing something sturdy and warm.  He finished sweeping, I did my thing, and I was out of his house in something like 16 minutes.  When I promptly plunged right back into the snowbank again to get back into my car.  At least this time I could climb into my own foot tracks.  I climbed into my car covered in snow up to my knees.

All this, before 8:30am.  By noon, I had climbed into another snowbank, after parking around the corner from the house, walking on an ice covered street to get where I needed to be, selected my spot, and plunged in -- this time with computer in hand.  So. Much. Fun.

That being sad, I do love winter.  LOVE it.  The added reward was how absolutely beautiful it is right now.  So beautiful that I came home and dug out the trash can from the snow, shovelled a path to the mailbox, and even partially cleaned off the other two cars in the driveway.  Of course, now my lungs are saying "oh no, you shouldn't have done that and I'll have a hit of the inhaler, please" but oh well.  It's all in a day's work for a homecare nurse.

No comments: