I’ve worked a few holidays in my 10 years at the bedside, and I know many nurses will be caring for others rather than caring who ate the last piece of pumpkin pie.
Some nurses are lucky enough to have families close that they can see their families and do their jobs. Albeit that turkey may be served at 11:30 so Annie can still make it to her 3 p.m. shift, or dinner waits until 5 p.m. because Jordon doesn’t get off until 3:30. Still, most nurses working this Thanksgiving will only be re-heating leftovers brought to them or skipping it altogether.
Any nurse knows, if there is any way you might be well enough to get out of the hospital prior to the holiday, everyone tries to do that, get you home to your families. Which also means, that if you aren’t, you are pretty sick. Non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries don’t get scheduled the week of Thanksgiving so that people can be with loved ones. There’s literally a mass exodus from noon Tuesday until 8 p.m. maybe even 10 p.m. Wednesday. Health care providers do really try to get patients out of the hospital and home. We know you heal better, faster when you are with those you love.
That means the patients who are still in the hospital over the holiday will be in pretty bad shape. It means that, as a nurse, my assignment load will likely be quite heavy. Please remember, while you are eating your sweet potato pie with more whip cream than is reasonable, a nurse is giving a patient a chemotherapy treatment. While you are settling in on the couch for the football game and nurse is prepping a patient emotionally and physically to sit up in the chair for the first time after their emergent open heart surgery. As you argue over whose doing the dishes and then laughing at the person with the best excuse to not have to do them, a nurse is advocating that a dying patient get more pain medication in hopes of getting some rest . For anyone lucky enough to have the day off to spend with relatives, even those you might not be especially fond of, remember there is a nurse taking care of patients and won’t be able to be with her family. Thank you to those working and even thank you to those who aren’t, because I know, you are likely scheduled for Christmas.