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Volunteer Diary: Day 13

September 18th, 2011  |  Published in Volunteering

I’m finally almost the master of my route on public transport. However, as I cheerily left the train platform for the bus stop, I realized that I had no idea which bus I was supposed to take. The buses are all similar in number, 101, 102, 121…so as I stood their rummaging through my blackberry (which seriously has to have the crappiest operating system on the face of the Earth) I found the bus number in a notepad document. And where was the bus? Right in front of me, closing its doors and turning away from the curb.

Fortunately my routine lateness and disaster lifestyle has hardened me to a point of zen even when I do stupid things like this. So, I looked around for a solution. Walking to the Hospital I’d get there right when another bus came and possibly encounter a slew of weirdos, so I decided to stay around for the next bus. Then, I realized that there is a convenient shuttle that takes persons from the train platform directly to the Hospital. Thanks to the Internet, I discovered the shuttle was arriving in 2 minutes.

So the shuttle shows up, and I ask the driver if he needs to see my employee ID or dart pass to ride. He mumbles something to the lines of “No, you don’t look like…” which I presumed meant since I’m wearing scrubs obviously I’m going to the Hospital. I was expecting the shuttle to speed away in a minute, but instead the driver told me we had to wait for 10 minutes.

Of course, no one got on the shuttle, so I am just sitting their awkwardly trying to quell my blackberry’s noises while the bus driver slept. Or at least he seemed like he was asleep; but magically we left on time. Perhaps he has perfected the ten minute half-nap…you know where you are rested but not entirely asleep and unaware of your surroundings?

Yes, everyone, I arrived late to the Hospital again. So I shamefully signed-in and slinked upstairs.

The nurse said to me “We are so happy you are here today!”

I replied, “I’m glad to be here too!”

“Do you know why I said that,” she asked.

And this is when I thought oh no; they realized I’m not supposed to get here at 9:30 ish. This is one of those things your boss says to you when they think they are being a softie but they are actually being a passive aggressive jerk.

“Oh no,” the nurse assured me, “It’s because today is going to be busy!”

So that was exciting. I rushed around a lot today. There was a new arrival of hospital pillows that I had to unwrap and slip into pillow cases. I was also partially deaf today; I swear the poor nurses called my name about three times before I even realized they were saying my name. I discharged two patients today, one of which was quite heavier than the other (but not obese). I somewhat struggled while pushing the wheelchair, but tried to maintain a steady pace so that it wasn’t obvious. The other patient actually said I was the “best patient escort” that they’d had all day! (It’s the small thing in life….)

Surgery Socks and GownAs usual, there was one surgeon that was running behind schedule; two hours behind schedule, that is. So there was this one elderly patient that was left sitting around until their surgery. Unlike most patients, they did not want to watch the TV and instead preferred to sit up in their hospital bed, in the dark, with the curtain in front of their room drawn open so they could peer out into the hallway. The patient seemed completely bored, so I chatted with them and attempted to make them comfortable with an extra pillow. The pillows at the Hospital are flat like saltines. I imagine the manufacturer does this so that they can squeeze more pillows into the shipping boxes.

This was my first true “patient interaction” which I thought was neat. The patient requested that I help them to the restroom; I waited awkwardly outside and then helped them back to their bed. As they left the restroom, they (for some reason) clutched the side of their hospital gown, displaying their bare butt to the entire floor of the surgery unit. I attempted to cover them up by snatching the gown away from their hand and tucking it gracefully back where it belonged, but soon enough the nurses swept-in to perform a pre-surgery status test. One of the nurses said outright that everyone could see the patient’s butt and told the patient that they wanted to close the curtain to the room while they performed the test so that there wouldn’t be a show. And they did.

We received our usual Friday delivery of Jell-O (which I recently remembered is crushed up bones, so I am again repulsed—but has anyone tried vegetarian Jell-O? It is hard and chewy…gross.) I restocked the beverage area and cleaned the coffee station. I’ve also begun to clean the microwave weekly, so it no longer looks like something died in there.

Suddenly, before I knew it, my time at the Hospital was up, and I had to head down to meet my dad for our new weekly lunch. But I did manage to grab an appertif, one of the doughnuts leftover from the morning Friday delivery. I still haven’t figured out who brings the doughnuts every day, but they are yummy.

One of my classmates told me that he volunteers at a hospital in the City to which I have been considering applying. There, he works in the operating room and has to scrub in sterile, of course. The downside to volunteering at his hospital is that it is very far away, and in an extremely trashy area of the City. The upside is that they give each volunteer a free meal! However, this hospital is very strict about your work hours and has higher expectations than the Hospital. So, considering how late I’ve been these days, I think I would hesitate to apply there until I can get my act together.