"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ask Any Nurse...

...and they will tell you that when you ask a patient, "Is there anything I can get for you?" or, when you go to answer a bell, the top two answers are: "I want pain medication." and "I want a sleeping pill."

They allllll just want the drugs. These people have it down to the very last seconds of when they are due for their next pill. Dilaudid, percocet, morphine.... I even had a patient today that had a PCA pump which the patient controls, and dispenses out a certain amount of pain med when he/she wants, and he called to tell me that "this just isn't taking the edge of the pain away."

It's just hard not to judge some of these younger people that watch the clock for their next high power pain med....when some of the older patients are rating their pain a 9/10 and yet don't believe in taking pain pills....go figure.

I can't wait to finally be a nurse and be able to answer patients questions. I guess I have the person-to-ask-important-questions-too look when I talk to patients because I constantly am asked questions about medications, when is my next dose? when am I going for my CT? did the doctor call yet? Have you seen the doctor yet? Has the doctor called yet? Can you call the doctor for me and say...Whats my dosage of insertdrughere medication?  Is someone feeding my cats at home?  Is the doctor coming yet? Did you get my pain medication? Why? Why ? Why? Did you get my pain medication yet? And then they get mad at me when I explain that, No- I do NOT know the schedules of the doctors and they will come and go as they please and get here when they get here, and two- I do not know anything about your medication because I am not your legal nurse (yet), and three- I cannot get any of your pain medication but I will certainly  pass that and all of your questions on to your nurse, with pleasure.

My favorite  all time question I think I have ever been asked, in all time was asked today: 

Patient asks, while I am working with his roommate : "Hey, can I ask you something?"
I turn to him in kind of disbelief but acceptance that he is continuing to ask me strange questions after I went through the above paragraph with him and then some.
Me: "Yes, certainly. What's Up?"
Patient: "Can you tell me if they broke a rib when they got my gallbladder out?"

First of all, I was not there for your surgery. Second of all, I don't even think they would do that. Third of all, why are you asking me this.. *facepalm*.  My response ending up being, " I really don't think so but again, I will send your nurse in and you can talk about this together."    I can't wait to be the nurse one day that the aides come and get to answer these strange questions...

This is also a question/conversation that stemmed from the same person today:

patient: "hey can I ask you a question?"
me: Yes.
patient: Should I fart?  *he has a very serious face on*
Me: Um....
Patient: Like, I have a lot of gas building up. Should I let it out even with what's going on?
Me: I am your aide...I don't know anything about your condition or why you are here I am just taking care of you.
Patient: Oh. Well I had my gallbladder out.
Me: *trying to sound really, really smart*  Okay. Well, I wouldn't force anything out. Don't strain to get any gas out but if it is ready to come out then I would let it happen naturally, there is no problem with that. Are you having a lot of painful gas buildup?
Patient: A little.
Me: *Again with the trying to sound smart thing*   Okay, Well sometimes if you can turn on your side or try walking around a bit your gas will come out a little more naturally and pain-free. But don't force anything.  (I have no idea if this has anything to do with gallbladder surgery but it all sounded pretty good to me).
Patient: Okay, Thank you!! 

Later on I popped in and asked, "How's the gas doing? Is it still building up?"
patient: Oh god no-after we talked before, I went for a walk around my room and I farted like a hungry hefty hippo, I'm telling you. Thank you so much.
Me: Um, you are welcome. Glad to be of assistance.
Gotta love my job....most times! Lol

I guess even as a nurse though, I still won't be able to answer some questions and I will "have to call the doctor for that, and that, and that too--" and will still feel clueless. Then I'm going to wish I was the doctor so I could answer questions. And then If I was the doctor, I'd wish I were a more experienced doctor to answer questions or a specialist....there will always be someone smarter than you, always remember that!

Also, another weekly whine....talking. Now, don't get me wrong--I like to listen. I love to learn about people, get to know who you are, why you are here, etc. If I could get paid for 8 hours to sit and listen to you, my patient tell me about your life, I would sit right there with you and chat a storm away. And I understand 3000% that part of being a great nurse is putting that time in and having those "therapeutic conversations" and getting to know your patient, spend time with your patient, know special things about them to remember the next night you have them, make them feel special....Patients like to be talked with, and listened to. The last thing they want is a nurse that comes in the room, says nothing or a couple words, answers questions with very short answers, and leaves as soon as she is done. Then the patient does not feel comfortable telling you key pieces of information that you need to help get them better. You don't have that relationship if you don't talk.

But sometimes....you just want to scream, why are you still talking!

Like I said, I'm all ears. I am interested, I am. But work has been insane lately--yesterday I went 8 hours without peeing because I literally couldn't take 5 minutes to pee. I have only so much time to get certain tasks done. I have the whole floor left to do, and you are going on twenty minutes telling me about your daughter's cat. And I am so bad at leaving conversations. I keep waiting for a pause and it never comes. I inch closer and closer to the door and try and give hints. But to no avail. And also, nurses are good actors. We have to pretend to be really interested in your daughter's cat and how it had 8 babies 4 years ago and how you found them a home, but one of them threw up but then you got a parrot and you taught it to talk but then you realized the parrot couldn't sing so you decided to clean your car so you could buy more dogs and then do you know you realized? I had a spill in my car, and oh the engine was leaking too, can you believe that? can you? 


Sorry. I don't mean to complain, whine or be a debbie-downer. I really do love my job. I love to help people, I have a gift (a blessing) that I can feel what people need and get it to them before they have to ask. I love it all. But sometimes....sometimes you just have to vent. This is my fourth night in a row of being in a very busy med/surg floor. And for mental health, I just need to vent!


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