Tuesday morning, eight o’clock, and I have seven things to do. Check vitals, change a dressing, get a patient out of bed, send another to the operating room. Review lab results, give medications, start a blood transfusion.
I have six patients, and they have an average of five morning medications each. I make three trips to the med room for supplies, two trips to the pantry for fresh water.
Mrs. Napoli has eight pills. She has trouble swallowing them, so I circle the unit to find the pill crusher, stopping again at the pantry for applesauce to mix them up in.
Mrs. Napoli is a wisp of an old woman, light enough for a strong wind to blow over. Her wide blue eyes, which usually radiate a steady calm, look strained. The lines and grooves of her face are tense with pain.
The pain is a seven. Earlier this morning it was a five. It was a ten when she fell in her backyard, fracturing her hip; right after her surgery, it was an eight. I go to the med room and draw morphine into a syringe and give it to her over two minutes, watching the second …