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"A nurse's musing"

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It's hard to explain to the world at large why nursing is so difficult.

After all, it's not any one thing that is so hard it can't be done by someone with patience. Empty a urinal, take vital signs, give someone a couple pills, make a bed, write some notes, pass a meal tray, answer the phone, suction a patient, start an IV, answer a call light, insert a Foley, hang an antibiotic: anybody can do these with a little training. Somehow the parts don't quite add up to the whole.

Nursing is an ongoing struggle to provide another human being with care to their physical, mental, and spiritual well being. More likely that other human being is really two or five, or seven, or thirty, or forty or even more. Patient ratios can vary wildly depending on location, acuity and support. But no matter if you have 2 intensive care patients, or 40 geriatrics, or some floor position, it demands you give yourself.

It is customer service driven; the impression of the care a person feels they have received is directly related to how they feel about a particular nurse. However, this can be at odds with what is actually good for the patient. This makes it a unique position. Effective nurses are rarely the nicest nurses. 

Nursing demands that you give up your needs so that someone else has it better. It extracts it's toll from you, draining body and spirit. A nurse cannot simply go to lunch; going to the bathroom takes careful planning, and sometimes guilt. It's exhausting work that demands long hours spent on your feet and upper body strength: lifting, twisting, pulling, moving a heavy patient who cannot help you. It’s no surprise that many old nurses are crippled with knee pain and back injuries.

But then you have those patients who lift you up and remind you why it's worth every bit of sweat, even tears, and blood. They aren't always the easiest patients. We see humans at their very worse. No one goes to a hospital or care center for no reason. Sometimes the patients who touch you the most can't even be physically touched

A myriad of emotions can play a major role. Fear, many people don't know what to expect, they are afraid of the unknown. Pain, no one is under a nurses care for no reason, and pain makes people do things they might not. Anger is not unusual, neither is grief, guilt or shame.

A nurse is the rock that those emotions break on. We listen to the rage, we treat the pain, and we educate against the fear. Most of all, we understand when those emotions boil to a head. 

But in the midst of this peasoup of spirit, lies a truth. It’s hidden by the needs our patients express. We are their maid, their waitress, their, teacher, their counselor, as well as their nurse. They are reliant on you. But occasionally you get that one patient, who despite all the reasons to complain, looks at you and says thank you

And you remember that you aren't a nurse for the patient's sake really, but your own soul's.

Written by Dianna
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