Today was my last day of work. Counting my capstone semester, I have been on the 7th floor of the hospital for nearly 4 years. That's like high school, but better paying. Leaving the hospital today in a semi-depressed state caused me to reflect on the love/hate relationship we so often have with our jobs.
Working on 7th floor means waking up in the morning at the same time all the drunks are going to bed. Which is before the roosters wake up but after the dairy farmers.
It means working Christmas and New Year's Eve and General Conference and Easter and Father's Day all in the same year. If the President were to declare a national "Everyone go home from work early and eat ice cream and fly a kite" day, I'd probably be stuck at work then too.
It means old confused people who refuse to leave their catheter where it deserves to stay, and young confused people yelling for the rats on the ceiling to leave them alone.
It means foot ulcers that start on one end and come out the other, defying both nature and stomach. Growing in that ulcer is a bacteria so nasty you wouldn't wave at it from a satellite. But I get to touch it, shielded only by a layer of latex the thickness of a sheet of paper.
It means lots and lots and LOTS of poop. Poop of every color and consistency imaginable. Poop so strong it can singe your eyebrows and melt plastic.
So why did I feel sad when I walked away from work today? And why did I keep coming back day after day for more of the above? For four years?
I think it's that old lady whose hair sticks up in the back from lying in bed so much, and the old man that asks you to marry him in the most flattering way possible. And the cancer patient grossed out by blood so you cover it with a pillow case while you transfuse her. And the Tongan guy with a million siblings that sing you Sunday songs in four-part harmony. And the mentally handicapped man who sits cross-legged on his bed and begs for more boondoggle. And the lady who brings in her Christmas tree during the holidays and tells you the story of all the ornaments on it. And the little old lady who wanders the halls with you to pick out the room with the best view for her husband. And the book of cowboy poetry an old cowboy gives you. And the quiet guy you had all weekend who tears up as you send him home and gives you a huge, unexpected hug. And the doctor who asks your opinion on a patient and then does what you suggest.
And, AND, my coworkers. Watching them get married off to great guys, or getting pregnant after trying forever. Hearing about grand-babies and quirky husbands and weird step-sons. Eating their cheesecake and discussing American Idol. Catching up on someone's love life while cleaning up a bowel explosion. Laughing at new residents together. Complimenting each other's good looks in the isolation gowns. Watching the manager and educator don bling and do a rap. Do coworkers do those things in Iowa?
For all my complaining, I'll miss you, 7th floor.