One Nurse’s Nightmare Part 1

I had a vivid dream one night several years ago, a nightmare really, and I wrote down as much of it as I could remember.  I don’t put that much weight into my dreams generally, but I felt examining this dream was worthwhile and it provided me with some valuable insight into the problems my unit was having at the time as well as some areas of growth for me to focus on. In this first post I am just going to share the nightmare itself and let you think about what lessons could be learned.  In a later post I will share my interpretation.

I dreamt I was running around trying to take care of my patients and getting nowhere. First, I received a new admit and a patient from PACU, both at the same time, and I couldn’t find anyone to help me transfer them from gurney to bed.

My new admit was a very old man in his 80’s or 90’s. He was covered in urine. His foley catheter bag was overflowing and there was so much urine under him it looked like he was laying in a kiddie pool filled with urine. The urine sloshed around when I rolled the gurney across the room.

The room was full of furniture and supplies, none of which were useful to me and all of which were in the way. I couldn’t find his bed. I couldn’t find a new foley catheter. He had a dozen family members crammed into the room surrounding his gurney and they were all watching me, waiting for me to get him off the gurney, into bed and cleaned up. But I had no help, couldn’t find supplies and the room was a disaster!

I started running around the unit looking for supplies and looking for someone who could help me. Supplies were everywhere, in bins similar to products at Ikea, but none of them were what I needed. There were miles and miles of hallway too. There were nurses everywhere, but all of them were unavailable to help me. There were managers and charge nurses having meetings in the hallway and they all looked at me as if I was nuts for asking for their help.

I started to cry. I bawled even, as I ran around the unit surrounded by supplies and people but unable to get help or items that I needed.

Finally, a few nurses took me seriously. I frantically explained that I needed help and they followed me to the room of the old man laying in the urine filled kiddie pool. Then, one after another, nurses kept filing into the room, each washing their hands with mountains of foam-white soap and each one using the isolation gowns, (did I mention this patient was in isolation?). They just stood there not knowing what to do for me and clogging up my room. This apparently seemed like a good time to put a new foley catheter in.

With my manager and the educator and all my peers standing there watching me, I kept dropping foley catheters on the floor and would have to get a new one. Somehow the new ones were full of urine already. The scene bounces between the foley catheters, the mounds of soap the nurses were using, my patient in a kiddie pool of urine, and me crying.

Finally, I start to direct people to move the furniture out of the way so we can get the patient off the gurney on into bed.  Now I have to ask the dozen family members to leave. Remember, my patient is still on a gurney at this point. I can tell they don’t want to go ,but I ask if all can leave but one so that we can have some room to arrange the patient comfortably. They start to file out of the room, as I escort them to the door there is a little young lady in scrubs yelling at me at the doorway as if I had done something terribly wrong. I’m pretty sure she was a nurses aide and I think she was mad that I needed so much help. I was crying and yelled at her about how bad my day was and how little help I had and if she knew what I’d been through she wouldn’t be yelling at me. I went back to the room and started directing people on moving pieces of furniture.

There were tables, and chairs. Big ones and little ones and a bassinette and little rocking chairs and a sofa. The patient bed was on the opposite side of the room from where it needed to be. Of course, everyone is washing their hands after each piece of equipment they touch, and with copious amounts of soap, then getting on new isolation gowns and gloves. I got exasperated with the isolation gown at one point and threw it and my gloves off saying “I just don’t care anymore”. Immediately after, I got some nasty bodily fluids on my hands. Looking down I realized I had a big cut on my left palm that was now contaminated with bodily fluids. So I began washing with lots of soap and water.

Eventually I got the help I needed. The room was arranged. The bed was where is should be and the multiple chairs were lined up out of the way for the family members. I had a clean foley catheter to insert and I wasn’t crying anymore.  The nightmare was over.

What do you think this nightmare means?  What are your nurse nightmares telling you?

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