Saturday, February 5, 2011

Making the Connection

I do not write a lot about work these days. I miss it; the sharing. This blog started as a way for me to share, chronicle, and vent my journey through this career. Lately though, I've become much more aware and scared of violating HIPAA.

Recently, I have taken care of the same patient the last five times at work. This continuity of care is important for the patient, but I also feel---for the nurse, too (to a point, depending on your relationship with the patient).

This patient has HIV/AIDS. I feel like I have made such a connection with this patient that on my days off, I do wonder and even worry about him/her. I stop myself from calling in to work for an update. Prior to this patient deteriorating further, we had a long discussion about food, as we would since with this disease, wasting syndrome has taken over, and nutrition has become quite important. This patient told me their love for whole wheat pancakes in the morning. Immediately, I mentioned Kodiak cakes! I love them because they're whole wheat, no preservatives or funky ingredients, and so easy because all you do is add water.

As soon as I got home, I put my extra box of Kodiak Cakes by the door. And the next time I worked, I gave it to the patient. Unfortunately, at this point, the patient is receiving nutrition through a tube going through their nose and into small intestine, but that's besides the point. I felt compelled to do something or give something to this patient. I don't know why!!

You see, you connect with most of your patients, but honestly, not all. And for whatever reason, there are those special patients that truly connect with you on a deeper level. Sometimes it is hard to see patients as just regular people when they're in the hospital setting; a lot of them begin to look and feel the same after so many 12 hour shifts.

 But then, there's some that just strike you, and you realize this is a person with a life outside of this immediate sickness and you feel true empathy. I love that. It lifts me up and helps me feel like I actually am "making a difference." Nursing is not glamorous, by any means. And not everyone even respects the profession; mostly those who have never seen a nurse in action. But I must say, I am humbled by the patients who touch my heart, and at the same time, I feel proud of what I do for a living; and for what I do to help these specific patients. For me, when it comes to making these connections, the care that's provided becomes mutual. It's a relationship with two people--each giving a little bit, and each benefiting from the other's presence...


Susan said...

I love your posts about being a nurse, and I too miss sharing about my job on my blog, but my blog has become more public with more people knowing about it than when I first started, so I don't feel comfortable sharing anymore. A resident from my hospital reads my blog! Who knows who else might be reading?

I know what you mean about how patients can seem so alike after awhile, especially if they're vented and sedated! I was in my patient's room yesterday doing all my hourly things, and the patient had a visitor...I thought to myself how crazy it must look to a visitor since I was doing all this stuff, but hardly interacting with the patient. I usually talk to patients when I'm doing stuff to them (like giving them meds, suctioning, etc...but not when I'm emptying urine or drawing blood from an arterial line!). Must be so weird to onlookers.

One of my patients at my lost job really got to me...he was dying on hospice...I googled him when I got home and found out he was supposed to coach lacrosse in the fall. I really wanted to go to his funeral, but the family didn't have any services for him.

I wish more people knew what we actually do...I can't describe it to anyone, and even when I try people don't understand. There's still TONS to learn, but nurses know so much and really do run the hospital. Our residents switch monthly so they never really know what's going on. I get so annoyed with people who talk about "hot nurses" and how they like women in scrubs, and I so want them to come walk a day in my shoes and see what nurses REALLY do. It's not glamorous!

Sorry that was a bit of a long winded comment. Nursing can be so hard, frustrating, difficult....and so rewarding. It's a crazy job.

Eeyore_fan said...

Great post.
THESE are the moments that make your job worth it. I'll have to admit, I didn't have a lot of these moments at my former job. But every once in a while, I would get patients (and their families) who were so sweet & seemed to appreciate my care. I would even get a little sad when they got discharged. =/

I seriously hope I can find a job one day (as an RN and/or CNM - hopefully both!) where I like my job for the most part and have more of these opportunities where I feel like I'm making a difference.

J said...

I totally understand wanting to talk about work, but not being able to because of HIPAA. I'm not a nurse, and I don't do actual patient care, but I work for a surgeon, and I assist him in the rooms with every patient. It's just me & the surgeon in our office so I really connect with most of my patients. I spend a lot of time with them, or on the phone with them coordinating various things. It's hard not to get "attached". The surgeon I work for focuses in Gastrointestinal/Oncologic surgeries. It has been hard to watch patients deteriorate. That is something that i'm having to adjust to and deal with.