Most of us know that a sense of humor can be one of our best allies in a stressful workplace. If you are fortunate enough to work alongside co-workers that can make you laugh, you may experience the benefits of immune system boosts, release of physical tension, and positive release of endorphins. I’m sure there are more than a few Resuscitation Annie dolls out there that were accomplices to April Fool’s Day drama. You know the kind - an inconvenient, change of shift transfer of a “train wreck” in full isolation, requiring the intern to place an arterial line stat - only to discover that the patient was a manikin.
Meet Mary Voda, a nurse from Minnesota, currently working as a Telemetry Nurse in New York.
Mary describes a fond April Fool’s Day Memory:
Working in the company of practical jokesters creates an opportunity to lighten the day from witnessing so much pain and suffering. Throughout the shift, the nurses on the Neuro-Oncology Unit calmed the suffering of the mind, body and spirit of our patient's and their families. Despite this challenging patient population, our caring, hard working, nursing staff looked forward to coming to work. I’ll never forget the April fool’s day prank that was played on me by the nurses of that unit. Not because I was the victim of some prank, but because it was awesome and done with good intentions. Even the patients and family members heard about it.
Trudy, the receptionist notified me of the call in the midst of my shift. I took the call in the glass enclosed nursing station, as the man introduced himself as the Manager from Kleinfeld's (many years prior to Say Yes To The Dress) where I had just purchased my wedding dress. I was informed of a fire at Kleinfeld's during the night. In shock, I turned to the nurses in the station and announced "THERE WAS A FIRE AT KLEINFELD'S" totally unaware that there was a group forming, trying desperately to contain their laughter. The Manager told me that he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that my dress was destroyed in the fire, I turned to announce "MY DRESS WAS DESTROYED IN THE FIRE” as my audience grew even larger. I mistakenly assumed they were concerned about my wedding dress.
He then told me what the good news was. He could offer me the same dress - in BLUE!
Stunned, I managed to respond politely yet matter of factly, that I wasn’t walking down the aisle in blue. By the end of the conversation, I had negotiated myself out of the blue dress and set up an appointment to choose any dress in the Kleinfeld stock. I hung up the phone and turned around to find my coworkers laughing hysterically. I instantly knew I was pranked and cracked up. I couldn't believe they pulled it off so flawlessly. I was so relieved to discover the “manager” was my coworker Brenda’s, husband. Blue has never really been my color.
Mary’s greatest teaching from a patient:
I've been very fortunate to have loved all my Nursing positions over the last twenty-six years. The position that provided me the most joy came from an unsuspecting role, caring for a young woman with Cerebral Palsy in her home. I became a part of Anna’s family and it never felt like a job to me. While caring for Anna, I learned to embody presence for my patients, while learning what they truly needed, rather than my own agenda of what I thought I needed to do for them.
Mary’s thoughts on Balance:
Sometimes I may feel drained of all my energy after dealing with an especially difficult situation at work, but if I'm focused on being actively present, I can get so much more energy back. Being there for someone who is dependent on you and watching them feel better is what creates balance for me. Of course, I can't be serious all the time, so humor balances the seriousness of my day and I often use humor with my patients and those around me.