I was supposed to be off work yesterday, but instead I was offered an equally tantalizing option - to work an extra day shift, in the ICU.
Now, I confess I was a bit nervous as I headed off to work yesterday morning - one does not normally work in the ICU a mere 3 months after graduating from nursing school, and one does not normally work in the ICU after one has only been working at their first nursing job for only 5 weeks, but the ICU at the hospital where I work was short-handed, and I suppose they were willing to take what they could get - and I was more than willing to sign on for the ride.
I was initially supposed to simply assist the regular ICU nurses with their workload, but after only the first two hours of my shift - a hazy stretch of time during which a patient coded, a patient passed away, and a patient had to be shocked with the defibrillator to restore a normal heart rhythm - the supervisor asked me, with a slightly suspicious sideways glance, if I would be willing to take a patient of my own (because of the need for minute-by-minute care, the normal full work load for an ICU nurse at our hospital is only 1 or 2 patients anyway). I soon realized the supervisor was wearing a sly expression because I was about to spend the next fourteen hours tending to a disoriented, combative patient who did her continual utmost to rip out anything she could reach - IVs, catheters, Oxygen tubing - with her teeth, all the while screaming obscenities at full volume.
How does one explain to someone, who is not in the frame of mind to comprehend your words, and who could not receive sedatives or even relaxants due to heart and kidney conditions, that the needles and strange tubes sticking out of her body were necessary, and supposed to be there? Over the course of the day, and into the night, I improvised - I talked to her, held her hand, repeated calming explanations again and again, knowing she wouldn't understand them, and sometimes resorted to leaning across her with one arm while using the other hand to type my required charting and documentation into the hospital computer I'd pulled into her room.
When I finally shuffled through the door at 9:30 last night, having left the house at 5:30 that morning, I found Zach and our friends Emily and Aaron awaiting me with a surprise dinner party! Never once complaining that they'd had to wait until such an inordinately late hour for me to arrive, Zach had fixed his famous, comforting rice and gravy, Emily and Aaron brought a glorious chocolate cake, and they all had some very welcome chilled hard cider ready in the fridge... :-) My contribution to the evening was a spring mushroom pasta dish I had whipped up the night before, inspired by a whole glorious 2 pounds of mushrooms I'd brought home from the grocery...
How fortunate am I, to have a job that inspires, exhilarates, and exhausts me - and how even more fortunate am I to have such a remarkable welcome awaiting me at the end of the day...
Whole Grain Spring Pasta with a Mushroom Cream Sauce
3 T butter or light vegan marg
1 onion, chopped
4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
4 oz portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 T whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp paprika
1 rounded T ketchup
1 tsp rosemary
1/3 cup 1% milk or soymilk
12 oz whole grain pasta, cooked according to package directions
3 or 4 generous handfuls of mixed spring greens
~ In a saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion in the butter or vegan marg until the onion is limp and translucent.
~ Add the mushrooms, and continue to saute until the mushrooms are limp and the onions are brownish.
~ Reduce the heat to low, and quickly stir in the flour, just until the mushrooms and onions are well coated.
~ Stir in the broth, paprika, ketchup, and rosemary, increase the heat again, and bring the mixture to a boil.
~ Let the sauce simmer for around 5 minutes - until thickened a bit.
~ Lower the heat, stir in the milk or soymilk, and reheat gently.
~ Fold the sauce over the whole grain pasta, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
~ Garnish each serving with parsley and a liberal helping of spring greens, and serve and enjoy!