I woke up this morning excited to write about the gratitude I felt because day by day we were experiencing a full week of nurses despite the challenges of staffing. So many reached out after my last post, and I wanted to share that the skies were parting and we were getting back on track. I heard some cool words floating around in my head and I was excited about writing. Then I realized something… Brian didn’t sleep last night. Uh oh.
I ran downstairs. “What the hell happened?” Ugh – I just vowed yesterday to stop cussing. “I’ll have to start over on that one – more important things now,” I thought.
“What do you think happened?” he said.
“Did they call?” I asked, wondering if the agency said she wasn’t coming or if she just didn’t show up.
“Nope. She just didn’t show.”
“What did the agency say when you called them?” Normally, we call the agency if a nurse is late or doesn’t show and they start working to figure out what’s happening. Ideally, they try to get someone to come in for the shift. Let’s be honest, though. A call after midnight isn’t really going to intersect many people who could say yes – even if they answer the phone.
“I didn’t even feel like dealing with it. We can talk with them today. I don’t even care what her excuse was. She’s not coming back.” I understood and agreed 100,000%. This nurse has done this several times. I had even asked our scheduler if she really thought this woman would show up for this shift. “I wish I had that control,” she texted back. Smiley face.
Why does that happen? How does it happen? How can someone who professes to care about helping people (pretty much the textbook definition of a nurse) simply not show up to a shift? Does she even understand what it means to the family? Does she even think about that?
Sometimes I wish these nurses could spend a month depending on someone to allow them to sleep. I’m not sure they’d even understand then, though. A month isn’t exactly enough time to really understand the chronic challenge it is for a family with an already difficult situation not to have sleep.
I kissed Brian goodnight and started getting Catherine ready for school. My blog post twisted in my mind as I started thinking about how we could ask questions to determine if the nurse would be dependable. I have a friend who grew a company from 1 guy with a truck to over 400 employees doing electrical contracting work. When you ask him how he did it, he says, “It’s not that hard. We have one mantra. Just do what you say you’re going to do.”
Exactly. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t do it, don’t say you can. And if you say you can, do all in your power to make it happen. Sure, things come up. Mistakes happen. And if this were the first time for this nurse, we’d certainly consider that. When it becomes a pattern though, it’s pretty clear you are simply not a person who does what you say you will.
We have a saying in our family, “Promise like a princess.” It came from watching a Disney commercial where emphatically, the voice-over uses the voice of Rapunzel and says, “I promise. And when I promise something, I never ever break that promise.” Sarah was at the impressionable age when those princesses really mattered. So I went with it. I even made a pillow that says it. I want to raise her to be dependable. To keep her promises. To be someone that people can count on for whatever it is she says she will do. And if I get the opportunity to impress that upon Catherine, I absolutely will. Wouldn’t it be cool if somehow Catherine could become a nurse? She’d be the kind that always, and I mean ALWAYS, shows up.
I put Catherine on the bus and told the guys who make me smile every morning that we didn’t have a nurse. I lamented that it was hard for me to believe she just didn’t show up with no call or anything. One said, “I bet you’re tired from being up last night then.” I quickly explained how Brian takes the nights and I take the morning when that happens.
“We hardly see each other,” I said.
And then the driver made my day.
“Well, at least you can’t fight!” So true. And I remembered, there is always – ALWAYS – something to be grateful for no matter how bad it seems. I walked inside with my head a little clearer – grateful for the bus driver who made me laugh and grateful for the nurses who do show up for their shifts, grateful for the experience because it convicted me about how I want to raise my children, and hopeful we have a nurse who simply does one thing – show up tonight.