Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

One of my jobs

She came in with the others that show up first thing in the morning, the ‘7:30’s we collectively call the first arrivals.

Her husband walked five feet behind. Before I spoke, she did.

“Which way is East?”

I immediately understood why she asked, but I didn’t have an answer. I have no sense of direction even when in my car unless I turn on the dashboard compass, so just imagine the dumb look on my face when she asked this simple question.

Her husband saved me and pointed in the direction behind me.

Then I regained my bearings.

“Let me move some chairs. You both can pray together.”

Within a few minutes they were in the pre – op bay next to me, curtain in front of them, with only their mats visible at the bottom hem.

It was just two weeks earlier that forty-nine people who shared my patients’ same faith were murdered in New Zealand. Not even children were spared.

While I stood outside the bay waiting for them to pull the curtain back, I was filled with an overwhelming empathy and a new understanding of something I don’t think consciously about in my role as a Nurse.

We use standard precautions, wash our hands, wear gloves, masks when needed, even gown up if the diagnosis requires it. We practice sterile technique, audit our clinical practices, do quality control testing… the list goes on.

In those ten minutes, my understanding of the importance of someone feeling safe grew tenfold.

________________________________

I almost didn’t want to share this because my empathetic response is miniscule compared to the turbulent emotions families surely experienced when the New Zealand massacre occurred.

__________________________________

I consider myself lucky to have gotten this patient to take care of.

Having a job that teaches me how to be a better human is a pretty damn special job.

 

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Sometimes I’m not listening well.

stomach

I thought I was slick

“What’cha have for breakfast?”

Sometimes the older patients have no regard for a NPO order (nothing by mouth).  They don’t want to hear about aspiration pneumonia. They just want a little nibble of something before they are rolled down to our department and prepped for surgery. Dietary can keep the tray out, but a savvy patient usually has saltines stashed somewhere.

“I had me some praaawrr’s” she said with a southern drawl I could never mimic.

I had to take a different angle so I could find out what “praaawrr’s” were.

“Did you eat something?”

“I sure did! Filled my belly right up.”

She gave me a smug smile.

Was she teasing me? I spun my head around, looking for the Anesthesiologist in charge. She’d give them a straight answer. In the meantime I was going to figure this out.

“What did you put in your belly?”

She cocked her head sideways, her eyes bright against her mahogany skin.

“Jesus!”

By this time, I could see out of the corner of my eye a coworker trying to suppress a giggle. I continued with hardheaded determination to get a straight answer.

“Is there anything else in there besides Jesus?”

Her face softened even more and she said soto vocce, “ No, Missee, Just Jesus, that’s all I need and that’s all I was told I could have this morning.”

Prayer – that’s what the word was she was saying!

Shame on me for giving her such a hard time.

 

 

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No Crying On The Clock

I almost made it through Nurses week with a la-dee-da attitude until Friday when our ministry team came through surgical services.

They brought with them a rolling cart with a bowl and a pitcher of water.

They were offering to do a Blessing of the Hands.

Earlier in the week, when busy with a patient, I’d seen the same three chaplains out of the corner of my eye, coming by our area. Happy that they were back, and that I had a few minutes between cases, I headed for the back hallway (a cross path between OR and Pre-op) where they stood.

A small group gathered around the mobile set-up. Blessings went quick. Then it was my turn.

“Susan, would you like a blessing?”

“Yes.” I extended my hands over the bowl. I was 90% in the moment. 10% of me was calculating the remaining work to be done by 2:30

The chaplain’s assistance picked up the pitcher of water, and the chaplain began the blessing.

“Holy God, bless these hands to be an instrument of healing. Bless…”

I could feel a lump in my throat and fought the tears behind my eyes. It became more difficult when the chaplain was done and followed with, “Is there anything else you want to pray about right now?”

The list is long Chaplain; way too long for my five minute break.

“No, I’m good. Thanks!”

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