So much for being stress-free after vacation. We're extremely short staffed on nights, so after 8 pm the stress level goes up at work. We go from six areas staffed by six nurses to five, which means some of us have as many as 12 patients at a time (with potential for more if they double you up, which rarely happens, thank goodness).
Wednesday night we were short staffed to start with, and then we got a sick call, so there were four nurses to staff six areas, and it wasn't looking like the night shift would get any dinner breaks. I volunteered to stay until 4 am (a 16-hour shift, the maximum allowed by law) so everyone would get at least a 40-minute break.
I had 12 patients the whole time--including one SICU patient with a broken hip who was confused, tachycardic, and kept pulling off her oxygen and desatting to 85. Fortunately, that was my only monitored bed, so I couldn't be given any more ICU or tele patients. But I had two other patients to prep for surgery (an appendicitis and a confirmed, non-ruptured ectopic pregnancy), a man with a 7 mm kidney stone who was vomiting, shaking and sweating and EXTREMELY needle-phobic (so much so that even after the IV was in, I had to give him Ativan to get him to relax slightly), a 104-year-old man on continuous bladder irrigation who was determined to pull the Foley catheter out, a nice young man with a headache, dizziness, and vomiting who ended up having a brain tumor (yikes), an elderly woman with a DVT on a heparin drip, and an elderly couple who had been struck by a car as they crossed the street. My only saving grace was that I also had three suicidal psych patients (no beds available on the psych ward!) who were all on 1:1 observation, and medically stable so I didn't have to do much for them.
I got home at 5 am and then couldn't sleep for more than a few hours and got up at ten. It was my day off, but I had things to do and sort of stumbled through my chores. I'm off again today, but I feel gypped out of yesterday, since I was so tired. Gah.