I was in the middle of a reasonably-under-control shift the other day and suddenly was struck with a feeling that fans of Monty Python will recognise as “wanting to be…A Lumberjack!“
Except that wasn’t quite all there was. Or rather, the feeling I was experiencing was that despite my work performance, the only person able to appreciate the day I was having was me.
We don’t build, or repair, or leave a mark on society. We work with colleagues as a team, but despite that, once our particular shift had gone off, the next shift would have no knowledge of our experiences and challenges. Jokes and anecdotes might filter through handover, but nothing of the details.
Of course, this is how it should be. The purpose of handover is to put the patient first, to ensure safety and continuity of care.
But then a fellow nurse asked me to help her with a patient needing a nasogastric tube. It had been inserted by the ENT fellow and needed replacing.
I have rather an extensive history of placing these. I’m pretty good at them. I called the ENT fellow, who told me of the challenges of placing an NG on this particular patient and wished me well. Call me again if you can’t do it, he said, half-joking.
Now, I’m not perfect and I did not place it the first time. The tube went into the patient’s larynx, curled beautifully at the carina and came back up the bronchus.
But the second time was perfect. I realised this was what I was missing in my day – I hadn’t appreciated my Slightly Shitty Superpower!
We all know how to perform the technical aspects of our roles as nurses. But we know, secretly, we are incrementally better at some roles or procedures than we are others. We might even be slightly better than our peers at a particular “thing” – and here’s the rub – WE ALL HAVE A “THING” – a Slightly Shitty Superpower.
It might be containing faeces in a pad on cleaning an incontinent patient. Or changing bed linen in record time. Maybe you can always hit that vein? Is ABG interpretation your thing? What one thing would you show off or smile to yourself about when you’ve done it well, reliably, every time?
We need to relish and delight in Slightly Shitty Superpowers when we find them. We need to share them with our colleagues, to pass on the tips, the methods and the tricks, and to have just one more “thing” we can appreciate about the uniqueness that we bring to every shift.