Sunday, August 3, 2008

the reality of being nurse

sometimes it really sucks to be the nurse standing by and watching horrible things happen to good people
I twittered this about 6 hours ago after spending the day taking care of a young man who got one of those talks from a team of doctors that you don't ever want to get. A man who found out today that not only will he never walk again, but he has a much bigger, much more life threatening problem on his plate. A man who does not have the luxury of having his family around him in his greatest time of need due to circumstances beyond his control.
I did the best I could for him today I stood by his bed and prayed "oh please, oh please, oh please" while we waited for the ok to make calls to his family, while we waited for a ringing phone to be answered. So he could do what we all do when we are in need, connect with our families.
I stood beside this man and held his hand as he made phone calls to his immediate family and explained how bad his situation was, a phone call they could have no way of anticipating.
I pushed back my own tears over and over again today, because it wasn't about me, he didn't need to see his nurse crying. He needed support, so that is what I did.
He won't get better, he may get more time, but he has small children, and a wife...that he hasn't seen in a year. Tomorrow is his birthday.
I came home and look at my own family with new eyes. It makes the things that frustrate me insignificant, my bad days he would give anything for. I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I need that reminder.
I'm thanking God right now for my two little boys tucked in there beds, for my healthy husband who comes home every night and most of all for getting to be here and just be with them.
It also makes me wonder if I should really be a nurse, should stuff really hit me this hard? Does everyone else walk away carrying this in the hearts and on their shoulders? I don't know how to put this kind of effort it and not have it take a peice of me, and I don't know if it is just me or all nurses....
but I'm working again at 7am tomorrow


Christina said...

Well, I'm still a student, but our instructors tell us that you only need to worry if you STOP feeling anything for your patients. Part of being a nurse is caring - you care for your patients, and as a result you should feel some sympathy, right?

I think you're being a normal, caring human being. As long as it doesn't get in the way of your job, I can't imagine it's a bad thing. (And it does make you more grateful for all you've been given, too.)

Anali said...

I agree with Christina. When you get to the point where you don't care anymore and you don't feel anything, that's when there is a problem. I'm sure it meant everything to him to have you there for him.

Jeankfl said...

The students are right.. the only time to worry is when you DON'T care! And I see nothing wrong with crying with a patient.. I've had some tell me that helped them tremendously.. timing is important.. if it's while they're calling family, it's supportive.. if it's when they're getting the news, it makes it about you.. But, I think you'd be less than human to NOT be touched by that kind of patient..And we need more human nurses, right now.. does make you appreciate what you have, doesn't it?
Good for you..

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

I am in complete awe of you, it is quite an amazing thing to give so much of yourself, to care for others so deeply. And it is terrific that you allow that to make you feel more grateful for what you have been blessed with, we all need those reminders.
Remember to care for yourself as well, so that all those pieces of yourself that you give do not become too much.

Her Bad Mother said...

What Christina said. I don't know how you do what you do, but I do know that having a big heart is a tremendous thing to bring to such a job.


ALI said...

Thanks all, it is still weighing on me, pulling at the corners of my day. christina, most of the time a patient ends up being just a patient, you don't end up having time or emotional capacity to connect with every person you are responsible for, but in my experience when I do connect it hits me like a ton of bricks.
Most nurses are by definition caring people that want to help, it's the times that you can only offer to hold a hand, or talk out the impact of a bad diagnosis that it gets inside you. the doctors are sad as well, they have to deliver the news, but then they walk away and it is the nurse that is standing there trying to help the patient understand what was just said, to help them process the worst possible info in the best or most constructive way.
It's a lot, and it's hard, but it is also the only option you have, the only thing you can do.

CONNIE said...

Oh, that must so tough. I could never be a nurse... first I don't like to see blood and I cry easily.

But I really admire you for sharing us the vulnerable side of being a nurse.