Saturday, April 13, 2013

I am an RN…read this if you have anyone who may ever be in the hospital.

I am an RN.
You may or may not know what it entails.  There are so many different facets to being an RN.  I work on an acute care Telemetry (heart health) floor.  I take care of many different people, but to sum up the group as a whole , so that you will understand who my patients are, I will describe them….I'm sure we all have a "Heart" patient in our families.  They are the woman you see in front of you at the grocery with ankles the size of melons, the diabetic who often forgets to take their insulin, the person who smoked their entire life and now can't walk to get up and down the stairs, the morbidly obese…and the person who has chest pains while shoveling snow…..oh, and your gramps who has had open heart surgery, stents and angioplasty.   I am the nurse.
I am the nurse who you meet when you walk into the room and say," well, my gramma lives alone and still drives"  ….well….maybe she shouldn't.
I am the nurse who has to perform chest compressions on your 89 year old "perfectly healthy" mother, whom you want EVERY THING DONE FOR….even though 3 hours ago your mother told me she just wants to go to Heaven and be with all her friends.  You do realize when you make this decision for your perfectly oriented elderly mother/grandparent, just because you are the power of attorney, it is selfish?  Do you realize the first compression of CPR I do on your mother is going to crush every bone in her chest?  it will…it breaks 30 year old men's chests walls.  Then you can blame the RN for killing your mother.  We are not being "rude" when we suggest a visit with the Palliative Care team.  We are there to help.
I am the person who leaves my family for 14 hours to take care of your family.  And yes, I do get paid….but I do it because I love it.  I don't get paid enough, honestly….you tell me how much someone would have to pay you to let them poop on you or throw up on you…or how about punch you….?  I bet you couldn't come up with a good price.  I also don't argue when I have to leave my family to take care of YOUR family on a Holiday…and you know what?   I will also sit and chat with your family member, keep them company, while they wait for you to "show up" right after you have holiday dinner with someone else….because, hey…it's a Holiday, and grampa will understand…he doesn't feel well any ways.
I am the person who helps your family member get to the bathroom…I wipe their bottoms and clean up their messes….I smile and say, It happens…and it will happen again…it's ok.
I am the on who keeps your family member from bleeding to death after they have a procedure.  It is scary every time I do it….But do I say that?  NO…I use my skill, my smile, my strength and I hold pressure….I tell them its hard for us both.   WE will get through it…and we do.  I have never had anyone "pop a femoral" after a cardiac cath….Does the family see this ?   no.
I have caught people and eased them to the floor….because they insist on getting up , even though I say…you are not quite ready to get up…you are weak and we should wait a little longer.  I ease them to the floor, because I am 5' and 100 pounds and most of my patients are over 250 lbs…if not bigger….but I have NEVER let anyone fall and hit their head…I risk my safety for their safety…I never even think about it, until afterwards.
When you have a grandparent who has Alzheimer's or dementia and needs care….I take care of them…I keep them safe.  I jump up and down all night running into their room to tell them it's ok.  I have been punched, scratched, pushed, yelled at and spit on by these patients…and when I call the number on the chart to ask a family member to come in before we have to put this patient in restraints…I really don't want to hear…can it wait til after I get the kids to school?  Sure….but don't be upset when your gramps has been sedated and tied into a 4 point harness for his and our safety when you could have come from 10 miles away and held their hand.  He doesn't know me…he knows you.
I am the person who watches your family member pass into the next part of their life.   I turn on nice music and hold their hand and help them be comfortable….where were you?….oh yeah, you had to just step out to run some errands.  I cry…just like everyone else…. I clean them up and brush their hair before you get back so the greyness in their face will not frighten anyone…death is grey.
the next time one of your family members goes to the hospital, think about this.  Think about what that RN is doing for the time you are NOT there.  I would rather not hear, ever again, from my manager how someone did not like my personality…or that I was unprofessional because I asked them NOT to get their family member out of bed without our help…they may fall.  Don't tell the RN, what to do with PICC lines and IV poles…they know…and sometimes there are many more important things going on with your family member than Oxygen tubing.  Don't attempt to get that nurse in trouble because you don't care for the way they breeze in and out.  Think about it….One day you may be a patient…

xo, m


Debbie Hahn said...

I completely honor you for biking a nurse and doing all you do for "our" families. Just keep in mind, not every family member leaves their loved ones to socialize, go to a party or to shrug "our" responsibilities on to someone else's shoulders. My husband had a horrible motorcycle accident Christmas Day 2001. I have four children at home, two of which were recent foster children. The kids were from 5 to 14 in age. We had our own business that just he and I ran. He was in the hospital for a few weeks. We had no family within 600 miles of us. I stayed right by his side as much and more than I could have. But there were times I was exhausted and needed to walk away, if even to sleep. A few times when I had left, he had to be put on a bed pan. He only would allow me to clean him. Once I didn't make back there in time. We lived 40 miles from the trauma center. This blog makes me wonder if the rn who cleaned him thought I was a horrible person for not being there when my husband needed me. It makes me sad, actually to think that. He cried that day. He was so humiliated. I cried because I got there about 5 mins too late to save his dignity.
I very much appreciate all you and others like you do. But there are things behind the scenes at home too. Things you might not hear about. We may not share with you about the dog crap all over our carpets when we went home to shower and sleep or the foster children who were having a really bad day or my own children suffering due to me or their dad not being at home for them. It's all about perspective. Understanding and not being too quick to judge another's actions or lack there of.
Again, thank you for caring so much and dedicating so much of you for... Us.

v8grrl said...

Debbie, I understand your feelings. thank you. We often tell family members to go and get some rest. We know how hard it is. that is exactly what I'm saying. We understand there are lives outside the hopsital....for everyone. It is more a letter of my feelings ...that we ARE here to care for the patient...we actually know what we are doing and often, no matter how much compassion we push out there, family members...not all....treat us as idiots, to say it lightly.
we must all be kind on both sides....
our main goal is to help the patient get well...and sometimes that may mean asking a family member to please not feed someone, or please don't get them out of's because we care, not because we are mean.

and I often have dog shit on my carpet too.

Debbie Hahn said...

I completely understand what you are saying. I'm in registration in a hospital. While its not quite the same for us as it is for the clinical staff, it can get aggravating for us too. People will be people and so many thinks they will get treated with some sort of V.I.P. status if they "act a fool". They seem to think "we" (hospital staff) will think they care more if they cause a scene. It's that whole, "I need some attention too!" attitude. And some people are just not happy or content in their own lives so they push their unhappiness on to others.

Keep your chin up. I'm sorry if you were "talked to" because you encountered a pain in the ass family member. Your manager, in all honesty, should understand you just can't please everyone.

Know today will be a better day. Again, I say thank you. You, most likely, were not my husband's RN but thank you anyway.

Have an awesome day and know that you will be blessed as well as your family for all your sacrifices.