Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New Job

As the title suggests this post was intended to be about my new job. I am now a Medical High Dependency Nurse(sort of semi-specialising in respiratory high care). I love my new job I am encouraged to think about my patients. I am now equipped with training(and the beginings of experience) that allow me to assess, analyse and intervene with highly unstable patients. This is much more my environment. The move was made largely thanks to my wifes constant nagging(I was miserable and disinclined to do anything about it) but also something Sage said that went along the lines of "ask yourself two questions, why are you miserable and is the cause likely to change" the answer to both was no so I moved.

Due to the highly sensitive nature of most of my cases at the moment I dont really feel comfortable posting about them(maybe later). Fortunately I have other material. Last night (27/06/11) a new series aired on channel four. Sirens is a dark comedy based loosely around the works of Brian Kellet(Tom Reynolds). I admit at times the combination of dry wit and blunt please the masses comedy grated on my nerves a bit however I found it very entertaining, worryingly accurate of the mind-set of most healthcare workers and carrying an interesting and important message.

Without giving too much away, three ambulance techs go through a particularly traumatic call-out, this episode follows them through the post-trauma reaction. Adrenaline had flooded their systems creating a euphoric high, they then become very restless and then they experience an adrenal crash. This is summed up in the title of the episode "Up, Horny, Down". The EMT most directly linked to the traumatic event declares he can defy his biology and control this reaction. He spends the next twenty-four hours trying not to given in to these adrenal responses. As it turns out his efforts are just another defence mechanism, allowing him to distract himself.

This hit home rather. On a day to day basis most healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors, emergency medical technicians and paramedics see and do things that the human body is instinctively progamed to avoid. Yet time after time we throw ourselves towards these situations. All healthcare professionals are more than well acquainted with the "Up, Horny, Down". In addition to this it doesnt take long for any new healthcare professional to discover their own defence mechanisms that allow them to move on following a traumatic event and deal with the adrenal response. Mostly this does involve learning how to distract yourself.

The constant exposure to this sequence of events is incredibly unhealthy and against every biological urge. We just keep dealing with it and there are surprisingly few mental health issues related to healthcare work(except the slightly higher than average alcoholism rate). I cant help wondering that long term effect this system will have on me, my wife and my friends.


Sage said...

Congrats on the new job, it sounds as though you are enjoying it and glad that the missus was behind you.. You know what they say "behind every successful man is a woman" lol..

I watched Sirens last night, not like the books, but loved the humour (most of the time) am looking forward to the next episode xx

Interesting to have another perspective on the subject, as the care you are involved with on a daily basis must at times seem difficult and also uplifting xx

Asclepius said...

To be completely honest there are far more lows than highs and generally more extreme lows as well. For some reason though a common personality trait in myself and most critical care inclined healthcare professionals is a desire to experience the extreme lows because eventually you compare what happened to all your tiny victories and it makes them bigger.

There's also something to be said for exploring the true depths of your own capacity for emotion. To be completely honest I would love to psycho analyse the critical care mind but I wouldn't know where to start and the results I suspect would terrify me