I was at work last night, another late 12 hour nocturnal shift. Everything was going okay until around 4am when I got hit by major pains. It’s unethical to be popping pain pills when I have the lives of other people in my hands so I just gritted my teeth and tried to bear it.
However, the L3s were not letting up and I ended up flopped on one of the chairs at the nursing desk. One of the nurses asked me if I was okay. In that split second, I could have flashed her a smile and lied saying that I was, but I didn’t.
“I’m in pain.”
“Oh really? You have cramps?” she asked me. “No, I have sickle cell anemia and it’s acting up,” I said in a monotone. All the nurses looked at me then, instant pity on their faces. Yuck! I was mortified and wished in that moment I hadn’t said anything. “Do you want to go home?” the charge nurse asked me.
It was 4am, I had 3.5 hours left in my shift. I shook my head no slowly. It would be a real stressful thing to leave my coworkers in a lurch with extra patients each. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment. She seemed relieved I wasn’t going to head home. “You should go lie down. Take a blanket and one of the empty rooms and we’ll wake you up a little after 5,” the charge nurse practically ordered.
I wanted to resist and push through the pain, but at this point even I knew it would be an exercise in futility. Next to getting pain meds in my system at that point, rest was the next best thing so I protested weakly at first but gave in when everyone insisted.
I’m always wary about telling my coworkers and people in general that I have sickle cell. Mostly because I don’t want to be treated like an invalid or wallow in pity. But this is one instance that I’m glad I spoke up and let my vulnerable side show. I can’t be a Super Woman every time.
An hour later, I woke up from my power nap with L2s but was able to finish the rest of the shift much more comfortably. Kudos to my coworkers for being so cool and picking up the slack for that hour when I was down and out.
Here is to surviving a potential crises. I’m home, rested and feeling much better now. Super Woman lives to fight another day.