Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the Hands of the Nurse

Did you know it was Nurses Week?

OK, so I started to feel a bit guilty for my Nurse Ratched entry last week given it was on the eve of Nurses Week! OK, not that guilty. Because what I said was true... but there is more I what I want to share on this topic of nurses and the art of nursing given I have spent many a day and many a night in a hospital.

Every time I go inside one of the antiseptic-laced, gurney-ridden, shot-stocked buildings, my life is in the hands of The Nurse. As much grief as I have given the select few with the Ratched-y characteristics, there are dozens and dozens... and dozens more willing to go above and beyond by calling and re-calling the surgeon until he or she gets the answer(s), ensuring the patient takes the stool softener (Yes, I said stool!), and always keeping the patient safe by telling each one to punch the "Nurse Button" before he/she makes any move from the silver sleigh AKA gurney.

The nurse is there, usually within a moment or two of the button call. This is especially important when it concerns the patient-controlled pump (PCA) making its "out-of-order" noise that just about gets anyone mad, including ME! Plus, you don't get pain medicine! It makes me a bit cross-eyed, if I let it. The noisy pump, if you don't know, is a device that delivers the pain medication intravenously. When a red light appears on the hand-held patient device, I can receive medicine, if needed. This device is attached by a cord to a larger box on an IV pole for ease of use.

On it goes, it often seems louder the longer it rattles on, but that's not the case. The ol' mind playin' tricks again... I try to tell myself to calm it down. Deep breath. "DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET!" I realize it is just before the top of the hour and that can be a busy time. "DEET! DEET! DEET! DEET!" At least this isn't a MRI. It's not as loud. Not at all. A field day in comparison. I'm upright, sipping soda, and flipping through a fashion/celebrity magazine. Definitely not things I can enjoy while MRI-ing on a Friday afternoon. TGIF! But...this sound is NOT SO FUN either!

The DEETs persist until I hear commotion outside my room, the burst of the machine noise rivals the tiny television in the upright corner of the room next to the bathroom door. The hospital room door opens at once, my nurse appears with my next set of tiny paper cups filled with medicine. She's got her eyes on the Meanie Machine.
"Oh, I am soooo sorry, Miss Leslie!"
The noise stops with the tap of her finger.
That always makes me happy and then I'll admit I'm little aggravated. I wish why could do it and save my ears and my mind!
Tap. tap. tap.
"I would have been here much sooner but another patient collapsed right on Mindy (another nurse) and I had to go help her and get him back in bed. And then he's flailing his arms, legs... and wouldn't stop until I stuck him."
I am staring at her rather calm demeanor as she tells me this story of such a challenging patient in such a scary scenario.
"Oh, and the patient in 44C soiled herself. It's just one of those nights!"
I just shake my head and half-smile, amazed. "I seriously don't know how you do it! I mean it. That is all just..." I am at a loss for words.
"Some days, I wonder, too," she says, throwing away some miscellaneous trash. "But I can't sing in a choir all the time!"
She told me earlier she was a world-class choir singer who traveled to Germany to perform. Her passion for singing is evident yet so is nursing. She's very lucky. I realize I am very lucky to have her. "Thanks for coming," I say, pointing to the quiet pain machine.
"That's my job," she laughs. "Now don't forget to drink a lot of water," she winks at me in her bright purple scrubs.
"And take some puffs on the breathing machine. It really helps after surgery." She is moving toward the door, but before she exits my room for the night, she turns, "You need anything else?"
"I'm good."
And I was...thanks to her! All nice and quiet. Ready to rest now.

I am so appreciative of nurses and their co-workers who, consistently, go out of their way to make the hospital experience a little more hospitable. They bring pillows, extra ice, and chauffeur patients, like me, at night to and from the bathroom. It is truly the little things, especially in the hospital, that can really make the difference. A fresh pitcher of water with ice can be the bright spot in any hospital day. Nurses help make the tiny miracles happen.

Favorite Bumperstickers for Nurses here

What It's Like to be a Nurse from Stanford U
It's actually quite moving! Thank you to all the nurses out there willing to make a difference.

 ©The Healing Redhead

Nurse image
Video: YouTube &

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