GRUMPY NURSE


i don't talk much about being a nurse on this little blog. i am a nurse. i work in an emergency room. in a pretty busy one. i meet all kinds of people. i take care of many sick people, and some people that aren't sick at all, at least not in the physical sense. i get cursed at a lot. people don't thank me often. many of my patients have interesting stories to share with me, and because i love a good story, this kind of makes up for the amount of times i am cursed or yelled at. i knew when i got into the job that it wouldn't be easy. every job has its positives and negatives. one of the biggest negatives for me has been watching myself become a "grumpy nurse". i wasn't always a grumpy nurse. at one point in my career i was a very un-grumpy one. in fact,  i would still say i am a happy nurse. but my demeanor has changed, for sure.

i try to keep a straight face instead of letting my emotions show on my face. i will ask very personal questions very matter-of-factly: "are you feeling suicidal today?", "are you sexually active?", "what drugs did you do?", "why are you covered in glitter?", "did you move your bowels today?"... all types of questions that i would never normally ask a stranger, i ask my patients without a second thought. i get to know things about people and don't ever really tell them much about me. i listen to them when they are hurting, anxious, upset, frustrated, or confused... many of times they are saying the same thing the last patient said... and then i say "that must be very hard to deal with" or "i am sorry you feel that way". sometimes they ask me questions. they try to find out what i would do in their situation, or ask how i feel about something... questions where they could possibly learn more about me... questions where i could let down my guard... to these questions i respond, with another question: "what do you think you should do?", "how do you feel?", "what do you think has happened". i offer the facts, an ear, and don't really get into much else. 

sometimes patients call me grumpy, or ask me why i don't smile. i tell them i am not grumpy at all, and very happy to be doing what i love. i think they might think i am being sarcastic, but i am not. i am not grumpy. i am happy.

so i have these interactions with people, and i handle them this way. at least this is what usually happens. this is how i keep my distance emotionally, and my own sanity. i need to.

but, yeah, i said usually... 

which means that sometimes you meet someone that you allow your guard down for, that you cry with, that you hold hands with... and you struggle not to say anything about you. you listen to them, you grab a chair and sit down for a while with them. then they start to let it all out, all the fear, and hurt, and sadness... and you can feel it become a weight in your own chest. and you feel very unprofessional, but you cannot help but to start crying when they do. and you cannot think of anything else to tell them other than....

"cancer really sucks. i am so sorry."



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