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Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Dragons of the RT Cave

I feel bad for you that you have to come back to this place, because it's terribly busy.

Despite that omen from one of my co-workers, it has not been busy at all this weekend. In fact it's been wonderful. And, considering I was prepared for a miserable night, I'm enjoying it that much more.

I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but the Dragons of the RT Cave wake up early to guard the cave. I usually grab my stuff and run when it starts to stir, and pray it doesn't use it's telekinetic powers to find where I'm hiding.
I have no clue why it wakes so early, but when it does I can smell it. Personally, believe it or not, I like our dragons. They're tough, but they hold down the fort rather well. Still, one of the perks of working night shift is you don't have to deal with dragons, as I write in one of my banner slogans, "the dragons are sleeping at night, if you know what I mean."

And keep in mind that not all dragons are bad. We actually have pretty tame dragons here at Shoreline, and they do a pretty good job of keeping us proles in line, and making sure we have all the best technology to work with. Still, a dragon is a dragon.

From Monday through Friday, however, our dragon hops is sniffing the grounds as early as 2 a.m.. So that means I have to pack up my bags and head to better Pasteur's. Well, I suppose I shouldn't say better Pasteur's as our dragon is quite friendly. It's just that a dragon is a dragon no matter how small, and dragons can get mad and rip your head off, or burn you good.
I used to hide out because it tried to eat my head off every time I got close to it, or so I thought anyway. Every time I forgot to dot an i or cross a t it was right there breathing it's fire hot breath over my head -- breathing fire. While some night shift RTs still fear it, not me anymore. Still, it's good to be wary.

Since those days of long ago, the RT dragon and I have helped each other out enough times now that we are on good terms. Still, having been away from the patient floors as long as it has, it's developed that business mentality -- forgot how it is on the floor per se. And, you guessed it, everything has a monetary bottom line. It has grown it's scales. Now it's a full grown dragon.

I don't make many mistakes anymore, but occasionally I still get a note, or, if I happen to be working when it finds out I did something incorrectly, a telepathic call at. Mainly the goofus mistakes are minor things, but a mistake is a mistake no matter how small.

Recently I left a blood gas syringe by the ABG machine.Could the dragons let this one little slip pass without letting me know about it. No. The lab dragon sent a fireball with a message to the RT cave dragon, who snarled and waited for me to be working so it could call me at four in the morning to let me know about it.

But that was last week. Yesterday I'm sitting in the CCU with Scooter the RN, and my beeper goes off.

Just one morning, I think to myself, just one morning I'd like to go without getting a page from the RT dragon. Not that I don't like it, nor that I can't get along with the dragons, because I do, but it's 4:00 in the morning and I'm tired. Doesn't it get that? This is the time of the morning I just want to do my work or, if I have my work done, just sit around. I don't want to be quizzed.

Like a good boy, and wanting to stay on good terms with it, I picked up the receiver and dialed the extension to the RT cave.

"Hello," the dragon said.

"Yeah, this is Rick," I said into the receiver.

"Hey, Rick. No you didn't do anything wrong. But when you get a minute can you come talk to me."

"Sure, I'll be right there." I hung up the receiver.

"Was that your dragon," Scooter said.


"Well, you said it'd call you right at four. You have it pegged."

I laughed. "Yep, you're right." But I don't wanna go. I just wanna stay here and chill.

But, like a good peon, I left the unit and walked through the hospital to the RT cave. As I walked through med-surg I could swear I could smell that a dragon was here. I could feel it; sense it. It has telekinetic powers after all.

"So how was your night," it said as I approached the entryway to the cave.

"Oh, it wasn't too bad. Actually, it was very slow compared to the last several days I've worked. It was a great break."

"That's too bad," it growled, a puff of smoke billowing from its flared nares. "We need to make money, and we don't make money when you're not doing anything."

I had already been up 24 hours, so I had developed that 2 a.m. loose lipped mentality. I said, "Well, it's one thing being busy, but when we're busy doing a bunch of useless breathing treatments it makes me twice as burned out as if I were actually using my brain."

I followed the dragon around while it unchained the doors. It didn't snap around and throw a fireball at me, so I knew I was still in the good, even though I had more than likely crossed the line with my honesty. I never would have done that a few years ago, but, like I said, I was on good terms with it now.

"I think there are a lot of people here who no longer come to work because they love their jobs. They come here just to get a paycheck. When I used to do your job, I used to do it because I loved my job."

I was NOT going to touch that one. (However, my lack of comment here still haunts me today. This is one of those times where I thought of a good comeback after the conversation was over. I will write about this tomorrow). "I love my job, boss." Am I being political by saying that, or truthful, I think.

"I know you do," it said, "but I think that a lot of you guys are just too complacent lately," she said, "I think it gets slow, and then you guys forget how to work." It stopped and looked at me. "Not just you, but all you guys in general. Those treatments are how we make money. "

"Well, boss," I said, "I don't have a problem working, it's just that if we're going to be doing useless breathing treatment just to make money, I think they should be done during the day when there are two RTs on."

It turned around. I hit a button. Smoke was puffing from its little nares. "It's not just you, but all of you guys have been making a lot of little mistakes lately. Here, I'll show you."

I followed it into the dark cave through a corridor in the back. It was dark and horrifying back there, but I followed her anyway. In a way, being in here reminded me quite often of being in the principals office. I watched as it shuffled through papers on it's desk

"Here, see." it grabbed a stack of paper, flitted through them so I could see all the notes and who they were left for.

"I see that even Dale has made mistakes."

She flitted through the stack again. "Yeah, he's made several."

"Oh, I thought he was perfect."

"None of you guys are perfect."

"Well, it seems that's what you bosses are trying to make us out to be." Of course I won't call them dragons to their faces. That would be a violation of one of the RT cave rules. "Look, boss, we aren't' perfect, we are going to make mistakes."

"Well, you shouldn't."

"At no other hospital I've ever worked at did I ever receive one note, and I know I screwed up many times. I guess the feeling there was, if I make a mistake, and I have to go to court, then it's on my shoulders."

"Well, I guess we have higher standards here."

"I know. We do. And I think it's good. But I think sometimes you guys go overboard. Look, you guys got Paul and Steve up on the edge. They're to the point they hate you. I mean, I know it's not you, you're just doing what you're told, but since you're the one leaving all the notes, you're the one they are going to hate."

"My boss," she said, "makes me do this. He wants me to keep track of every note I write, and if I write six notes then I have to write you guys up for now on. That's why I called you here. I want you to be more careful."

"Boss, if you do that, then you'll have to fire us all. We aren't perfect. You're just opening up a can of worms."

"Hmm, worms, that sounds delicious," said the dragon. Just kidding. She said, "I just do what my bosses tell me."

"Well, if you write us up for every notes, then that means we'll get a verbal warning, and then, the third time, we get fired. By the end of the year you'll have a 100% turnover rate of RTs. We'd all be fired."

"Why is it you have to argue with everything I say." She beamed at me. I jumped back. There was no fire, but I could see it was close to exploding.

"I don't mean to, but we have a right to disagree with you. There's more than just one opinion in this department, and I think we are having a good discussion. There's no way you can make progress, in my opinion, without discussing. Don't you think?"

"You have a good point."

Whew. "Well, I think your bosses should come down here and work like we do, and they'd see how not easy it is to be perfect. They are so far removed from the real work, it's easy for them to make such frivolous policy for you. If they had your job, they wouldn't do what they make you do. "

"That's very true. They wouldn't. And, when Gary had my job, he didn't do any of this. He has me going over every chart, every day, writing down every little mistake I find. It's very exhausting, especially when I have to hear it from... well, not you, but Steve and Paul."

"Gary only has you doing all this stuff because you act as a shield. When us RTs get mad at you, you get the brunt of the spears. Your bosses feel no pain."

"Wow," she said, and smiled. "You hit the nail on the head."

The RT Dragons: They are abounding.

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