Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

She wasn’t in labor

And today we had a screamer.
No, she wasn’t in labor.
She had plenty of other stuff going on; renal failure, abscessed wound, sexually transmitted disease, and a non-functioning shunt.
The profanity was amazing, how much of it came out of the mouth of the petite thirty year old was absolutely astounding! She told us in six different ways how much she wanted us to leave her alone. Nobody was exempt.
I approached her with my eyes down, the same way you approach an angry animal, and put the blood pressure cuff on her arm as if I was wrapping her extremity with cotton tissue. I said a prayer of thanks for the steady drip coming from her patent IV.
Fortunately there was only one other patient in the pre-op area, and she wore hearing aids. This patient had a pleasant smile on her face the entire time. She must have taken the hearing aids out.
When someone is that irate and you find out that, no, they were not Baker Acted into our place; you have to laugh a little and wonder why they came here in the first place.
Then you relax because you know this is going to reach the manager’s office.
And she’d going to put an end to it.


I was angry…

For the first time, I was angry that I was “just a nurse”. Ooh… yes… I said it, the same thing that makes me want to reach out my right hand and lightly tap the offending mouth from which that comment occasionally comes.

Here’s a little back story to help explain:

It was my day to assist with checking in and recovering outpatients.  Joe, I’ll call him Joe, was the second person to arrive.   His wife and college-age daughter came along to drive him home after his procedure. Joe had the laid back attitude of someone enjoying life and all it has to offer. It was a pleasure to check him in.

An hour later, Joe came out from his procedure, a little groggy, but awake enough to tell me how he, like most, enjoyed the effectiveness of the anesthesia. I poked my head around the corner to wave his wife and daughter over, and turned to the nurse who’d brought him out. She turned toward me, and with her back to the family, mouthed the words “found a mass”.  I gave the family the standard “Dr.____________ will be out soon to tell you how he did.”  His wife and daughter were surprised when I went on to explain how quickly the medicine would wear off and how soon he’d be able to dress and leave. Then I opened the chart.

Orders for a CEA level, CBC, CMP, a CT of the abdomen, and a referral to a surgeon were written in scratch on the discharge order sheet. Like the muscle memory you get from learning to bike ride, I entered the order quickly and the tech came sooner than usual to draw the blood. Joe’s daughter spoke first. “What’s this for?”

I coughed out a response about the doctor ordering some labs that would add more value to the completed procedure. It felt like crap saying something so vague, not having the infinite wisdom and letters behind my name to explain just why the test were ordered and reassure the family.

Over my shoulder to the left, I saw Dr._____________ at the end of the hallway walking back into the procedure room, gown on, hands gloved. He was doing his next procedure before coming out to see my patient!  I hated him for that second.

 I stepped to the next bay to help check in a patient and returned to Joe and his family ten minutes later. He was wide awake, looking at the almost empty IV bag, and joking with his family about where he wanted to eat lunch. After I’d taken his IV out, and just before he was about to change, Dr. _____________ came walking down the hall. When he stepped in close to Joe’s stretcher, I partially drew the curtain and stood behind the wall mounted computer screen. I felt five years old again, drowning in guilt over my lie of omission. When Dr. ____________ left, I pushed the curtain back and knelt down between the sitting family members.

I was embarrassed about the tears that came as soon as Joe grabbed my hand. I know that cancers caught early increase survival rate, and the family, they were more composed than me. They reassured me that they understood, they knew that kind of information has to come from the doctor. Joe left with a prescription for his CT scan and an appointment with a surgeon.

No other “masses” or as we call them sometimes, “lesions” were found that day.  And I realize now, I wasn’t angry at that doctor, he’s a great doctor. I was just angry.


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