“It’s a blessing”: Healthcare over the holidays, part 5

A series on what it’s like to work during the festive season. Our final installment: Care when it matters most.

What’s it like to work in an emergency room over Christmas and New Year’s? We asked the more than 500,000 healthcare professionals on Figure 1, our global case-sharing platform over the weekend of Dec. 5–6, 2015. Here are some of their best replies.

As a healthcare assistant in stroke rehab, when you start your shift you feel sorry for yourself. But by the end of your shift, when everyone’s washed, hoisted and primped, you have fed a few people their thick puréed roast and the relatives have left at the end of visiting and you’re helping them into bed, you realize it’s them that have really missed out on the holiday, not you. Then when you are walking home to your friends or family or to a late lunch, you feel like you want to be back there with them, reminding them that next year will be better.
Laura Lane, stroke rehab assistant, UK.

I actually enjoy working, usually not a lot of people around. I also enjoy being able to take care of someone in their time of sickness on holidays. I feel like I can share a special moment with them and let them know that not everyone is gone on holiday.
Intensive care nurse, Oklahoma.

Over Thanksgiving this year we had several patients who had been on the unit for months. Their families had passed each other in the hallways and in the waiting room for all that time but had not really interacted. On Thanksgiving, many family members brought in food to share with the staff. Spontaneously, the family members began to offer food to other families on the unit and strike up cautious conversation. Suddenly, wives who had felt isolated and alone, parents who had been stricken with worry, all had a shoulder to lean on and a sounding board who had been going through similar situations. It was beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.
Critical care nurse, Maryland.

I feel it’s an honor to be able to care for people, particularly on the holidays. Nobody wants to spend the holidays in the hospital, and I hope I can make my patients feel less alone.
Intensive care nurse, New York.

Over the holidays, I am thankful for the decisions I do not have to make. Countless times I care for patients and families making decisions nobody should have to endure. Putting someone on comfort care, decisions whether or not to treat a chronic GI bleed requiring life saving transfusions, and countless other life-altering decisions that are hard for anyone to make. As a nurse, I am thankful that I get to go home at the end of the day, and I am more thankful for these situations at work that keep me grounded and thankful for the little things.
Haley Goodson, surgical nurse, New Hampshire.

It’s like waking up at 4am for a code… 
Getting up in the middle of dinner for a respiratory difficulty…
Driving 3 hours away with a critical patient because the weather is crappy and the bird won’t fly…
Your favorite coffee shop being closed on your way to work… 
Leaving your family early in the morning and not saying sorry for going to work without being slightly choked up… 
It’s like the most rewarding thing you could ever do when a wife thanks you for saving her choking husband’s life…
It’s like a dream.
Jillian Thomas, emergency medical services, Florida.

I worked as a nurse in a pediatric trauma unit. Being away from my family on Christmas sucked. Caring for kids and their families in the worst time of their life over Christmas sucked even more. But watching parents stuff stockings, cross-legged in the hallways at 2 a.m., have firefighters be Santa, dropping toys off for each of them, then seeing the kids’ faces in the morning, when everything bad disappears for a few moments and the families bask in joy that is Christmas: There is nothing more awesome. And ten years later, I still fondly remember those moments.
Eva Allen, pediatric nurse, British Columbia, Canada.

Share and discuss real-time medical cases with dedicated medical professionals like these on the Figure 1 app. Interested in learning more about Figure 1? Email us at communications@figure1.com

Other installments in this series:

Celebrating with your colleagues.

The most difficult cases.

Missing your loved ones.

The holiday rush.