The 5 nursing nightmares I have when I sleep
What do nurses dream about when they get the chance to sleep?
As a nurse who regularly works a three- or four-day run, I tend to dream about the minutiae of work. And those dreams, well, they’re unremarkable.
But sometimes — just sometimes — I wake up in a cold sweat. And it’s usually thanks to one of these five Nursing Nightmares:
1. Schrödinger’s Patient: There’s a patient you haven’t seen all shift. When you open the door to their room, they’ll either be alive and happy (“Whassup?”) or dead.
2. Patients on Various Floors: How many times have you dreamed an assignment that involves not only different hallways, but different floors? And the elevators are always out of order, too.
3. Trying to Get to Work: A variation of the Misty Luggage dream, this one involves insane obstacles between you and the time clock, including, but not limited to, seas of banana pudding through which you have to wade, winding highways and cars that suddenly turn into laundry baskets.
4. Schrödinger’s Doctor: In this dream, you need an order. You get one, but it changes every time you look at it. And for some reason, all the orders are written in impossible handwriting, using a faulty fountain pen, on antique clipboards that disappear just as you’re about to lay hands on them.
5. Not All Bleeding Stops Eventually: This is the nightmare that’s guaranteed to wake you up in a cold sweat. It doesn’t matter what crisis it is; whatever it is won’t stop. The code goes on and on, your patient keeps having explosive diarrhea or the cafeteria keeps running out of egg noodles. Your brain wakes you up from this one, panting and panicky, 10 minutes before your alarm is set to go off.
It’s a wonder that we, as a profession, ever sleep at all.
What dreams do you dream? What dreams do you wish you could dream?
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Agatha Lellis