Yesterday was a usual busy weekday in our unit. I work in adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as a nurse. I was going through my day, almost-without-intention or effort pacing in the halls from one end to another. I was logging 8 to 10,000 steps a day in my Fitbit. Well, that is not all I do, of course. I help other nurses and patients grabbing things, getting supplies, pulling meds for others, until my first my patient arrives from surgery.
In the background, we have chair alarms, patient call light sounds, bells and whistles for our various types of equipment (monitors, different pumps, and machines). All sounds differ in volume and pitch. It is usually noisy. Besides, we had two loud alarm codes in our unit alone, not to mention codes that got overhead-paged in the whole hospital that ICU team had to attend as well. The patients get pushed with their beds in and out of the unit with staff to go and have procedures done, etcetera, some as we are bagging them to breathe. Picture those. This is our norm.
As I was busy doing work, one of the family members of a patient next door came out of the hallway and looked at me as I leave my room to get some medicine for my patient on a ventilator. She raised her hands up looking so overwhelmed.
"I don't know how you guys do this. This is real. This is not Grey's Anatomy on TV. You guys are living this."
Without thinking, I replied, "Yes, this is our life, our typical day."
I was too busy to explain, but I really did not have time to stop to talk to her longer. I should have said that things are okay. We are okay. Our patients are fine. I hope she is okay.
To the people not working in the hospital, our routines can be too overwhelming to watch. But somebody's got to do this jobs. I love working here. This is what I know how to do, and I love making a difference in my world and in the patient's lives. Our primary goal is to get our patients well enough and see them leaving the ICU to graduate to a step-down unit, or better yet to go home.
Intensive care unit is busy. Emotions, conditions, and situations can be intense. There are tears, as well as smiles. There's a lot of unintentional pain and fear in our unit. There's also a lot of hope, and comfort that we offer as a team. I am proud to be an ICU nurse working with my wonderful team.