Every nurse knows that holidays are far from sacrosanct when you work in healthcare. Patients in ICU can’t be left to fend for themselves. Those in long-term care don’t magically get well and go home. ERs must remain open to receive the steady stream of people who’ve flambéed themselves while trying to deep-fry a turkey. So, even during the season of good cheer, nurses routinely give up time with their families to fulfill their duties at work. They do have to get creative to improvise a celebration in a dreary hospital. Here are a few stories our readers shared about what they’ve been up to over the holidays in years gone by.
Food and Décor
When you’re a nurse, you make use of whatever you can to enjoy your Christmas. That might mean using an irrigation syringe as a turkey baster or tongue blades in lieu of forks to eat a spiral sliced ham. An IV rack hung with lights and TED hose stuffed with candy canes wouldn’t pass muster with any serious decorating committee, but Lisa R. made it work at her job. Patients really do appreciate any effort; just ask Kim B., who made red and green finger Jell-O for patients in the hospital on full liquids. She says it was a big hit!
Gifts and Cheer
If nurses get the holiday blues not being able to spend time with family, imagine how much worse it is to spend that time in the hospital as a patient. They need extra care to keep from getting down in the dumps. Erica A. says she “scrounged the unit for Christmas presents for a patient whose family bailed on her for Christmas at the last minute. I’ve never seen such appreciation on the face of someone unwrapping a new toothbrush and a bottle of lilac-scented shampoo.”Rob M. kept it jolly last year on Christmas Eve by playing Santa. As the only male charge RN on duty, he got volunteered for the part. Rob put on a happy face, donned the suit and delivered gifts to all the children. Turns out, the experience was well worth it. “You should have seen the eyes of the kids in PICU light up. PEDS also loved it. I was glad to do it and help out…families appreciated the gesture for sure!”
Acts of Kindness
Unfortunately, sometimes the urge to spread holiday cheer can backfire. Cathy W. learned this lesson the hard way: “I made some sugar-free candy trees for my patients. I put the candy on a Styrofoam cone. In the middle of a quiet night shift, I hear ‘Ouch, ouch, ouch!’ My patient had taken all the candies off the tree and they were in the bed along with the pins! Next time I will put them on with tape!”