Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why Be A Nurse?

Usually I don't get to post on the weekends so this is a rare chance for me.  I just worked two night shifts in a row and have so many thoughts in my head that I thought it would feel good to get them out there.

Bottom line....??  I love the elderly.  I love their kindness.  I love their wit.  I love their spunk!

Many years ago I decided to become a nurse.  I am not sure why other than I love helping people.  It started with me being a nursing assistant on the weekends and then I pursued nursing school after I graduated high school.  I did not become a nurse for the money, although the pay isn't so bad.  I became a nurse because I love it.  That's's not all blood, and sputum, and changing old people's's more than that.  It's about what I can do for these people when they are sick.  How can I make them feel better when they are coughing their heads off because of pneumonia?  How can I make them feel like they still have dignity when they are no longer able to make it to the bathroom on their own?  How can I show them that they are still important to this world when they no longer have family to visit them or anyone that CARES enough to visit them?  How can I do all this?

I do homecare during the day, and I can honestly tell you that my patients are like part of my family.  I go above and beyond to show them that they matter.  I've been known to shovel their walkways, dig in their garages for their medications after they have moved to a low-income home where all their shit was thrown  into the garage and nobody was their to help.  I've gone out to see these people on my off days for free when they have called me because they weren't feeling well.  I've mopped floors, done laundry, grocery shopped....and none of these things are what I get paid for.  I get paid for making my nursing assessment, filling pill boxes, doing dressing changes, calling doctors, and teaching them about their health issues. 

I go above and beyond because I care.  I see the look in their eye when I bring them a fresh coffee or when I offer to make them some tea and toast.....that look shows how much these little things are appreciated.  And to me, THAT is what makes a good nurse.

Anyone can learn the fundamentals of nursing.  Anyone can learn side effects of medications to look for.  Even a monkey can learn to give an injection.....but can you teach someone how to have compassion?

I think not.

We have a nurse that will visit her patients and spend maybe 10 minutes taking their vitals signs.  That's ALL she does.  She doesn't even take her coat off and sit down for a few minutes to chat.  How wrong is this??  How can she call herself a nurse? 

Not too long ago one of my patients called me to see if I could help her with her cable because she forgot to pay her bill.  Well, I couldn't pay her bill, but I sent my husband to her house to rig up her cable so that she could have some of the basic channels until her cable was turned back on.  In return, she made him an apple pie. sweet was that??

Another time I volunteered my late spouse to go trim someones bushes because this little old man couldn't get out to do it, his son wouldn't help, and I had to literally wade through prickly bushes to get to his front door.  How do families let their loved ones live in these conditions?  Of course, I will never know the whole story behind what goes on with their family dynamics, but your elderly parents out!!!  Help them when it's them they deserve to be cared for.  They already feel like a burden, and probably don't want to ask for the help, but damn you....they raised you!!  They deserve your respect!!

I also work part time at a nursing home.  I said I would never go back to working in one, but times are tough and we needed the I go....and I love the residents there.  Do I like the nursing staff??  Not so much.  I swear they are there to work at NOT doing the work more than they are there to take care of the people. 

How hard is it to go get a lady a sleeping pill from the facility stock??  Must have been too hard for the nurse I followed because she dated the order for the following day.  Not me...I went and opened that starter kit and got the sleeping pill...and my lady slept peacefully all night.  Isn't that our goal??  To make them comfortable??  Another lady told me she asked for a sleeping pill three times and was told she didn't have one ordered.  I was all set to call the doc for an order, but when I looked at her med sheet there it was plain as day....Restoril 30 mg po qhs as needed for sleep.  She also slept like a baby.  :)  Isn't it easier to just do the work? 

Does this make me comfortable knowing my Grandmother is in this same nursing home where I work?  Not one bit.  I cringe when I think about it.  My Gramma cannot speak up for herself.  She would not know if she was getting the right medication or any medication for that matter.  Who's going to watch out for her?  We have to put our trust in nurses that don't give a shit??  We have to trust nurses who chart that a patient can move all extremities and hand grasps are equal after this lady took a fall.....when this lady has a history of hemiplegia secondary to a stroke years ago??  Therefore, this lady CANNOT move her right side, and hasn't for years.  Did the fall cure her of her hemiplegia??  Nope...not on my shift.

I wish there was more I could do for these people.  I hope that the 8 hours I am there that they know they are in good hands.  I may not do all the extra paperwork for the stupid, for example, we are supposed to fill out at least 3 or 4 different sheets when we find a new bruise, or an open area, or a tiny little scratch on someone.....I deal with the problem, make sure there was no apparent foul play, and move on.  I get the appropriate order for a dressing change if needed.....I do what I know is right, and I move the fuck on!!  Damn!  You could spend all day writing up incident reports, calling directors and doctors and the fucking Pope....but does that help the patient??  Not in my opinion.  I think most intelligent people know if someones been rough-housed or if they bumped their arm on the bed rail.  Just saying....

My sister over at 2010-Year of Miracles is on her way to getting her nursing degree.  Notice I didn't say she's on her way to "becoming a  nurse"?  That's right...because she has the compassion it takes to take care of people.  She already has the common sense.  If she could work right now as a nurse, she would be just fine.  Her patients would know she was there for them as their advocate.  They would know they were getting the best care.  They wouldn't even question if she had a degree because she would SHOW them she KNOWS  how to take care of people!  And, THAT is precisely my point....she has what it takes to be a nurse...she only needs the paperwork out of the way.  Some of the nurses I work with??  Yeah...I sort of question where they obtained their's quite scary....I had  no idea Cracker Jack started putting nursing degrees in the prize pack!!

So, the reason for this post?  I really just want to say that from my viewpoint, the elderly deserve respect.  They deserve us, as nurses and family members, to be their voices.  We need to speak up for them when needed.  We need to give them the care the deserve when they are in need of it.  We need to treat them the way we would want to be treated.  I truly believe what comes around - goes around.  I can only hope that when I am elderly that I have someone to step up to the plate for me if I don't have family available or if I have nurses that don't do their job. 

I am a nurse and I love my job.  I love my patients and I am here to say what they cannot say for whatever reason.  I am here to be their messenger. I am here tell the families that have abandoned them, and to tell the nurses that don't follow through, and to tell the nursing assistants that make up their vital signs....ONE THING.  I know that most of my patients would be grateful to me for passing this information along to anyone who may need to be put in their, to those of you who don't deserve to be the caregives of these elderly folks....THIS is what I say on their behalf:

And have a great day!!


CaneWife said...

What a wonderful message. And it's also wonderful to know there are nurses like you out there, making a difference. Thank you for that.

Kat said...

OH, I fucking LOVE IT! Seriously what the HELL is the matter with them all? There is only one or two nurses that I have seen at that facility that have their heads out of their asses. It's a shame. Further, I think the family that IS there gets really tired of taking shit up with the "team" and having it go ignored. Way to go and thank GOD you are the way you are. Your patients, I'm sure, consider themselves lucky to have you. I love you!

JKP said...

Cheers and kudos to you and those like you who believe nursing is a calling, not just a job. It's too bad there aren't more out there.

Mad Woman said...

I'm a support worker, going into the homes of (mostly) elderly people and doing housework, helping them shower & dress, etc etc etc. I love it. It pisses me off that their families live right here in town and don't give a crap. They never visit and when I called one woman to tell her I'd just sent her mother to the hospital in an ambulance because she was having a heart attack, her daughter said "Oh. Right. I guess I'll go visit her in a few days, I'm going away with my boyfriend tonight.". WHAT?! I would have dropped EVERYTHING and gone to see my mother.


Just like it takes a special person to be a good teacher, it's the same for nurses. Good for you and your sister!

Linda Medrano said...

Terry, You rock, Babe! And I have an award for you! Come by and pick it up please! xxooxx

Stasha said...

You sound like an awesome nurse!

I have spent way too much time in hospitals the past year with my hubs and have seen way too many nurses who don't seem to know their head from their ass! There have been a small handful who are like you and do whatever it takes to make the patient comfy but the most seemed to be there for a paycheck and that was it!

My hubby has spoke with a charge nurse more than once...

Kellyansapansa said...

What a lovely post. You have my total admiration and respect. To do one of the hardest jobs in the world and to do it with such compassion truly shows what an amazing person you are. Big hugs!

WeaselMomma said...

We need many more nurses like you.

Dual Mom said...

I think nursing and teaching are alot alike. Anybody can learn the mechanics of teaching...but it takes a special talent to instill in kids a desire to learn. The same goes for nursing, it takes a special someone to truly help people heal.

My Aimless Infatuation said...

God Bless You for this post and all you do. I am not a nurse but I am a caregiver who understands fully what you are saying. I also believe what goes around comes around. Thank you for putting into words my daily rant.

Lisa said...

Terry, there are two kinds of people in the Working With People kind of jobs--those who show up for the paycheck and those who happen to get a paycheck for what they do.

The same things you see in nursing, exist in teaching. Teachers have the power to lift up a student, make them become a person they never knew possible or you can tear them down with just one comment from your mouth.

I am not perfect, but my heart is in the right place. I teach from my heart and my students are my kids. I hug them. I tell them I love them. I tell them I want to hurt 'em (sarcastically of course) when they are naughty. But I never give up on them.

Bravo to you and what you do. Your paycheck on earth is not nearly enough, but in heaven you will be rewarded with the love and embrace of each person whose pain you helped to alleviate.

I knew I liked you early on. Now you have my total respect.

When are we gonna meet?

Nicky said...

Wow. For once, I have no clever remarks. You are profound and incredibly eloquent and I admire your devotion and integrity.

Sarah With Scissors said...

Hi, Dual Mom sent me your way. I have to say you rock. I was in the hospital a while ago with a kidney stone and severe kidney infection. I was in a lot of pain and half the drugs they gave me did nothing but made me vomit. I couldn't get out of bed. One nurse was so mean and I don't take well to people being mean, especially when I'm helpless and in pain. Then there was another nurse. SHE ROCKED!!! Thank GOD she became my full time nurse because she made my day every time she came in. I felt so BAD that she had to strain my damn pee for the stupid stone. She had this awesome smile and a sense of humor that rocked. She let me get out of there with my dignity. Ironically I ended up moving next to her a year later. I immediately went over and gave her a hug. She didn't remember me as I'm sure she has a million patients but I didn't care. Now she was my neighbour. She rules. Nurses who actually love their job RULE. I could never do it but I love it that some of you can and love it.

Lo said...

Oh, my....I wish you could be my nurse when the time comes for me to need one. You are not only what a nurse should be but what a human being shouild be. I have never understood the "that's not my job" people....I feel that whatever needs to be done is my job. Obviously you do too. God Bless.

gayle said...

You sound like a wonderful nurse!! Wish more were like you!!

Small Town Girl said...

I love your passion! We need more people like you in the medical field...nurses and doctors alike. You can't hear it, but I'm clapping!

WhisperingWriter said...

Love this. I definately respect the elderly. I love how my grandma speaks her mind. She makes me laugh.

The Reader said...

Brilliant post Terry! :D