April 13, 2015

When the Nurse Becomes the Patient

A couple of weeks ago I had the worst migraine headache of my life. It was so bad. Dizziness, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, the works. It got so bad that I told my husband that I needed to go to the ER. I just want to mention how wonderful my husband was during all of this. He is not in healthcare and really hates when I talk about blood and guts, but he was there holding my hair and rubbing my back when I needed him the most :)

Forgoed Happy Hour and spent my Friday getting a different kind of cocktail.
I have never been that sick that I had ever considered going to the ER so I was super anxious about going. As a nurse, I have seen the good and the bad as far as a visit to the hospital can go. I was worried that they wouldn't be able to start an IV since I was so dehydrated, I was concerned that the medicine they would give me would make me sicker and that the staff wouldn't take good care of me.

I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth everything went and how much better I felt after the cocktail of drugs I received. All of the staff I encountered were very nice and provided me with excellent care! That reminds me that I need to mail out that thank you card to the nurse who took care of me that night. Folks, if you ever find yourself in the hospital and feel like you have received great care, please at least take a moment to say thank you to the staff. Nursing (and other healthcare professions) is often a thankless job. For me, I know that at the end of a horrible day, having a patient thank me for all I did for them makes no bathroom breaks, no lunch, IV restarts, 3,000+ steps all worth it! Stepping off my soapbox now....

It was a weird feeling for me to be a patient instead of the nurse. It made me think about all of the patients I had cared for and what I looked for in a "good nurse." Was I my own idea of what a "good nurse" should be?

The honest answer is that I was probably not always living up to my idea of what a "good nurse" should be. I am wholeheartedly certain that my intent was to provide the best care possible for my patients, but there are factors that I am sure did not always make that possible. I think that nurses hold themselves to such high expectations and when one of them isn't met we tend to beat ourselves up about it. I was all about doing everything I promised my patients I would do which often times meant me not clocking out until way past quitting time. It took me awhile to realize that one person can not always complete every task, fulfill every promise, meet every need in one 12 hour shift, but by that time I was really feeling the signs of burn out.

This whole thing has really given me an even greater appreciation for the profession I have chosen for myself. Nursing really is a profession of caring!

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