A Happy Shift (Niki explains PICU pain management)

Chapter 12 My next shift, I take report on a child admitted following surgery earlier that afternoon. The medical plan is for her to spend the night, and then transfer to the regular pediatric unit in the morning. The surgery was successful, and the patient will make a complete recovery. “I’m concerned that the surgeon […]

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Something Goes Wrong (Nice families always have the sickest kids)

Chapter 8 Besides my fourteen year-old head trauma there is only one other patient in the PICU.  Because that one is stable and expected to transfer to the regular pediatric unit in the morning, staffing for our night shift dropped down to two nurses, Kathy, and myself. The fourteen year old’s parents had been at the bedside […]

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The Center of This Body’s Universe (Niki needs caffeine and meets a nice family in the PICU)

Chapter 7 I can’t tell if my headache is caused by too much sleep or not enough. Without coffee my night shift tuned body doesn’t know whether to wake up, or go to bed, since neither daylight nor darkness have circadian relevance anymore. Caffeine, not the sun,  is the center of this body’s Universe. I […]

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Little Earthquakes (Niki has a stress dream and learns about earthquake kits)

Chapter 5 I pulled into the driveway of our rented house. Simon’s left, so I park in the garage, closing the door. I removed the groceries from the backseat and set them on the washing machine before sliding off my scrubs, dumping them into the laundry hamper. I’m always worried about bringing home germs from […]

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Myopia (What happens when a Child’s Only Access to Health Care is The ER)

Chapter 3 “Fuck! Liz, get in here! I need more light.” Dr. Polk, the PICU intensive care doctor is renowned throughout the hospital for his skill at inserting central lines into even the smallest child, and also for his use of colorful language. Middle-aged, however, his eyesight is worsening. This makes the placement of central […]

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A Good Shift (Niki introduces two coworkers)

Chapter 2 One good thing about working twelve-hour night shifts in a Southern California hospital is driving against traffic for the commute. Californians don’t measure commutes in miles, but by how long it takes them to get there. Everyone knows to stay off the freeways, and take surface streets. I pull into the hospital staff […]

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