Friday, June 28, 2013

What it means to me.

I'm not sure that any of us ever get in to our career in nursing hoping that we will experience anything traumatic, that we will not get our expected outcomes, or that we will be heartbroken.

I also believe that when we start out we think we are going to be the ones to change lives.
And there is no doubt- we do!

My graduating class 2007. Gotta LOVE white pants!

The point I missed, and that I'm sure others might miss- is that while we're caring for our patients and their families, they will change our lives too.

Our patients will expose parts of us that we didn't realize existed. We will have to deal with emotions and feelings and life and death in ways that only those who work in our environment can understand.

After a particularly rare but terrible experience as a nurse, I needed some way to release the torrent of emotion that raged for days following.
So I wrote and posted the following reaction on my Facebook page:

It's a long thought....having lots of those these days!

I'm a Nurse.
I know how to start your IV, hopefully on the first attempt (unless you tell me how awesome your veins are, you're begging for at least 2 attempts in this case)...
I've been trained how to read monitors and recognize a change from your baseline vitals, how to perform a detailed assessment before you even realize you're being ass
essed, and how to cluster your care so I don't wake you 234 times through the night- although my task-oriented self would like to wake you up to finish all of our to-do's so I can proudly report off to the next shift what I've accomplished!
I know BLS, NRP, ACLS and many other protocols in order to quickly respond in an emergency.
I'm sure you know all of this, it's why I went to school right?

Well, the parts you may not know about your nurse....

I think about you long after you are no longer "assigned" to me. I mean days, weeks, even years.

You aren't just a patient number to me. I give a little piece of myself when I care for you, and I hope I touch your life in a good way.

I sing to your baby during the night while he is on oxygen and you need some rest, because that's what I would do for my own baby.

I cry at your delivery if you cry..or if your husband, your mom, or your friend cries...because I realize that this is a miracle and I'm thankful to witness it.
I tell my family if I got to help deliver a baby, how many boys and girls were in the nursery, and their first names if I can remember (no worries- no HIPAA violations occur)

I am afraid at times. I hide that so that you won't be.

I try to not get annoyed when you want the entire county in with you during delivery...but it's really because I need room to move quickly if something goes wrong and not because I'm mean.

I would go to bat for you as a patient advocate, even if that means the doctor probably won't like it, and I'll pay for it for awhile, long after you have forgotten.

You come first, even if you think we're taking our time with your pain medication. It is likely that it's the computer's fault. There are safety mechanisms that I won't go around to be faster, because you are too important.

I will starve and dehydrate while massaging your back or getting you more Popsicles, jello, or ice's what we do.

I cry....a lot. When I remember you, those with empty arms and broken dreams and unforeseen complications...I cry because I know just a little of your story, just a tiny sliver, but probably a major defining moment that I was witness to.
I think about how it rocked my world and I cannot even imagine how it threw yours completely off it's axis. I know you'll never be the same....but I hope you know that I won't be either.

I wonder about how you cope, if anything I said made a difference, and I pray that you know God and his peace that passes all understanding.

I think of you when I'm in the room where you delivered a baby you would never take home, or where resuscitation was required, or where good outcomes didn't happen. And when I think of you, I pray for you.

Nurses aren't just nurses for the pay, the ability to test how long a bladder can be held, or to see how many years of nursing it takes to wreck 2 knees and a back. Nope, it's because our heart is in it, and I hope you can tell.
~Following the post, I was so humbled by the reaction of my friends and family. It was simply a pouring out of my grief and it touched people!
I was told I should start a blog- and my reaction to that is, I had been thinking about it for well over a year, but I very rarely have anything THAT deep to say, or even more, what does anyone care about what I have to say?
Oh well, here I am, saying it.
I thank God for giving me those words during that time. In the days that followed I became hard. I couldn't cry..... even though the sights, the sounds, the smell were still very present in my memory bank. I don't understand this process, but I know there is more to be dealt with, so perhaps there will be more words. 
Thank you for reading.

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