You've had a horrible shift, now what?

Hi everyone,

Sometimes when you walk onto the ward you just have a feeling… You know your walking into the shift from hell.  This might have you wanting to run towards the door, but in all my years of nursing I have yet to see someone running out on their shift, at least before its started!  The shift from hell can happen in so many ways.  Like I just mentioned, sometimes you just sense it from the moment you walk in, you might have the feeling its beginning to get hellish by the time you see your first patient, or the hell might not hit until you’re just about to go on your long awaited tea break.  Whenever the time, you can get comfort from knowing we’ve all been there.  And we all just get on with it. 

Lets not forget that nurses can be a superstitious bunch.  Never say that you’re having a good day – lets not jinx the good day and turn it bad!  Never say time is going too slow – that is just a detonator for a code blue to occur.  And never look at the handover sheet without seeing your patients and say ‘they all look easy’ – they won’t be easy after you say that! 

So we do what we can and get through the day and somehow, we find a way to do all our work whilst hopefully hiding how horrible our day is from our patients.  On days like that, handover can be a sweet, sweet time where you know your reinforcements have arrived.  Or it can be a time of ‘OMG why are they here now, I have so much stuff to do, tell them to come back in an hour!!’  Once handover is over, then that’s it, finish your notes and get out of there. 

Everyone has their thing they do after a terrible shift, mine alternates depending on 2 of my alter ego’s: ‘good Sally’ and ‘bad Sally’.  Bad Sally is going to jump on the tram ASAP, call in at the corner shop and suss out their chocolate stash, get home and watch some Nurse Jackie or Greys Anatomy on the couch in my pajamas.  This can make me feel so much better for at least 1 or 2 episodes, but then after I crash from the sugar high, I end up feeling worse and just want to go to bed.

Good Sally, on the other hand, gets home and goes straight back out again, decked out in my active wear with my bike in tow.  Although, lets face it, after a horrible shift, I’m not going to be breaking any records, in fact on these day’s I get overtaken by people running!  I often start off feeling wrecked, and when I finished I’m shattered, and I still crash about an hour after I get back, but it is a great crash.  I feel like I can overcome anything, that I’m a strong woman who (if anyone is a fan of The Lion King) laughs in the face of danger, ha ha ha (if you not as much a fan of the Lion King as what I am, disregard that last bit).  Anyway, I guess my point is, I feel quite powerful. 

So they are my 2 ways of coping after a horrible shift, 2 totally separate ways that I deal with things.  I have friends who go straight to bed, straight to the pub, shopping and even cooking (in my opinion, unless its something sweet, why bother after a crap day lol).  So how do you cope?  What do you do? And how does it affect you?