Imagine the following situation. The alarm clock blares at you as you awaken from a deep sleep—thirty minutes later than you wanted! Yikes! You scramble out of bed and dash to the shower…only to find you have no hot water! Washing and drying as fast as you can, you search through your dresser and find very little clean clothing, so you scramble through the laundry hamper to find the “cleanest” clothing possible. After you finally dress yourself, you dash to the door…but you cannot locate your keys in their usual place. “Oh no! Where did I put them?!” Searching through the stacks of mail, a familiar clinking sound against the granite counter arises from the bottom of the pile. Grabbing the keys, you run to your vehicle and speed to the nearest hospital entrance, praying that you won’t see any red and blue flashing lights tailing you. Have you ever had one of these mornings?
This scenario that I have described further resembles what has been occurring over the last few weeks and even few months as we’ve been opening the Trauma ICU and continue to prepare for the arrival of trauma patients. With all of this chaos comes additional stress that we will continuously face within all of ICU. So, how are you taking care of yourself? How will you continue to do this as the level of care intensifies?
Three suggestions come to mind:
- Breathing/quiet moments. Slow down and take a moment to focus. Inhale as deeply as possible and then exhale slowly.
- Recite scripture or any positive words that encourage you. You may want to write these on an index card and post them in your car or even memorize them. Both of these ideas can happen while you’re charting, taking a break, or just sitting for a moment at the nurses’ station.
- The last idea is more specific regarding when it occurs. Everyone has heard the phrase “foam in, foam out.” Since this always has to occur before any entrance to a patient’s room, why don’t we “pray in, pray out?” Pray for yourself as you prepare to enter the room; pray for peace and concentration upon the patient’s needs and/or the ability to set aside your own personal struggles. Then, pray for the patient and/or family when leaving the room. Pray for his or her well-being and/or relief from any possible suffering as well as courage and strength for their family members. When we do this, we are symbolically taking the care from our own hands and placing them in the hands of the Great Healer.