This falls in the stranger than fiction category. A psychiatric patient admitted to my floor from a group home years ago with a recent diagnosis of incontinence. His CAT scan revealed a calcified bladder stone formed around a sewing needle. When the stone filled the bladder completely, he developed incontinence, Unlike the typical patient who shows up with strange objects in strange places, he hadn’t absent-mindedly sat on it. He gave an excellent history and remembered losing that pesky needle. It just didn’t hurt, so he thought no more about it.
I am the World Champion at talking when I should have been listening. More than thirty years ago, I had a dear friend in Nursing School who was valiantly struggling with morbidly obesity serious enough to interfere with ambulation and other life activities, not to mention the psychic and social pain she dealt with daily. Working Continue reading
A harried mother came to the urgent care center where I was working her five-year old-boy wearing nothing but a sheet and a frown. He was obviously unhappy with his mother and in distress as I assessed him and asked him the problem. “I’ve got this big hard piece of tape stuck on the end of my pecker and it won’t come off. She’s had me sitting in the bathtub all morning, and it ain’t come off yet!” With this he shot her a murderous look. She explained he’d had a circumcision recently and the dressing was still clinging stubbornly.
He broke back in f’uriously, “I told you I didn’t want no surgery! Ever’thin’ was workin’ just fine till you hired somebody to whittle on me!”
I wasn’t getting in that family fight!
I was reporting back to a doctor on his agitated emergency room patient I had just been caring for. Meaning to say, “He was really bucking and fighting.” I got tangled up and said “f–cking and biting.” Trying to recover before the doc reacted, I snapped back,” but fortunately I didn’t get bit!”
You probably don’t remember me,but I was your nurse. I took care of you when you had your baby, took care of your sick child, comforted you when you were in pain. I worked extra shifts on holidays and weekends because you needed me. I rejoiced when you got better. Cried with you when you needed a friend and tried to help you find the answers. I sang and talked to you when you seemed unresponsive because I knew you were in there. I brought Easter baskets for your children so they wouldn’t be disappointed when they came to see you on Easter. I hugged you and your family. I talked to you about things outside the hospital to give you something else to think about, trying to bring you a story that would interest you everyday, unless you just needed me to be quiet with you. I was there for your miracle and to hold your hand when you died talking to Mama. I never corrected you, knowing it was her hand you were holding.
Nursing was my job, but taking care of you was my privilege. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.
I was never one of those little girls who dreamed of being a nurse. My interaction with nurses was mostly getting shots at the health unit. It was the least appealing job I could imagine. I got a degree in education . I was a total misfit as a teacher and wanted no part of that field. A stay at home mom, I was content raising my two children thinking, sometime when the time was right, I’d pursue some other discipline.
A friend called one day, wanting to know if I’d keep her son for a couple of hours so she could go register for nursing school. To my shock, I answered, “No, I’m going to nursing school!” Where in the world had that come from? . I never looked back. I registered for nursing school that afternoon. My poor husband was incredulous when he came home. Since I already had a degree, it only took two years to finish. I spent the next thirty years as as nurse, the perfect job for me. It was the best decision that was ever made for me.
A few months into my first nursing job, I met Michael, the patient who put me on the road to true nursing. Still limping down the painful road from enjoying success in nursing school to putting it into practice, I drove home most days thinking, “I can’t go back tomorrow. I can’t go back tomorrow.” I lived in terror of getting caught alone with a patient whose survival depended on all that “nursing magic” that had so far sailed over on my head. Orienting on an acute dialysis unit, my only useful skills were a pretty good nursing vocabulary, understanding of aseptic technique, and the complete understanding that there was no question too stupid for me to ask. I would have never have made it if my supervisor had been one of those who “ate her young.” (terrorized new nurses) Continue reading