Burn unit appropriate.
Nurses Week continues! I’m on my third night of four in a row, and things are moving along. Today we’re going to talk about some stories. Often when people hear that I work on a burn unit, or that I’ve worked with oncology and hospice patients, they comment on how hard it must be. Hard being with people who are in such pain or are dying. It’s hard to explain unless you work in the field, but you just do it. It’s obviously comes with the territory. I usually say something silly along the lines of, "Ha, if you only knew how people ended up here…" (stop falling asleep smoking, please!) or something a little more rational like, "Well, it’s not my family member…" But basically, if I got upset and attached over every single patient, I’d never make it through the day. We cause people pain, but it’s part of the process of making them better. I used to work with hospice patients, and it was about helping them die comfortably. Which is definitely better than dying while receiving chest compressions, in case you were wondering.
This doesn’t mean I’m a cold, heartless person. I’ve had plenty of patients who have touched me in great ways. I suppose it’s one of the ways nursing is a little better than being an accountant (or something?) because we do help people in very meaningful ways. (Not to say that accountants are great people, I’m not sure I did my taxes right this year, but I think you know what I mean.) So for today’s Nurses Week post, I’ll share with you some patients I’ve worked with along the way…all while not violating HIPAA, thank you very much.
If you’ve ever heard me sing, you should consider yourself lucky. Lucky in that I don’t sing in front of many people, and lucky for the fact that your eardrums are still intact because I can’t sing to save my life. Around Christmas time at my last job, I had a patient who was on hospice yet not quite near the end of the life, so he was very interactive and such. We had a radio that hospice patients could use, and the patient happened to have the radio set to a station playing Christmas music. It was probably later in the shift, maybe 8-9pm, and he had me stay with him and sing some carols since he had no family or visitors.
"the nurse who is really good at her job"
I had another hospital patient who was the cutest little old man ever, with the cutest little old man name to match (which I obviously won’t share, but if you heard it, you’d agree). He went downhill pretty quick and was placed on hospice. Hospice care was pretty easy, just making sure they’re comfortable. I came in once to find his family there, and he pointed at me and looked at his daughter when I walked in. She asked, "Is that her?" To which I gave a quizzical look. She said, "He says you’re the nurse who is really good at her job."
Fast forward to later in the shift when his family had gone home, and I went to check on him. I asked him if he was in pain, if he needed anything to drink, etc, and he told me no. So I told him I’d be back to check on him in about an hour. He took my hand and whispered, "I’m counting on it." I started tearing up and had to walk out of the room, to which one of the other nurses asked what was wrong…I said it was so sad that he was probably going to die. He ended up dying that weekend while I wasn’t working. I looked up about going to his funeral services, but the family wasn’t having any. My other internet searching showed that he still had plans to be active in the community.
"we should get married"
Then there was one patient who I will never forget…we shall call him Joe for the fact that that’s a common name. Joe was a "frequent flier" as we sometimes call them, as he was old and bounced back and forth from whatever extended care facility he lived at and the hospital. The first time I had Joe, I was having a bad shift and when I walked in his room, I realized his IV needed to be changed. I was holding his arm checking out his veins, and he asked me if I was married. Usually in this situation I would say yes, and the patient would say, "Well, he’s a very lucky man" to which I would agree. However, I wasn’t on my game in that department and said no. He asked if I had a boyfriend and I said no. To which he replied, "Well…we should get married! And then when I die in three years, you can collect my social security."
Didn’t sound like a terrible idea, let me tell you.
Moving on. Next time I had Joe, he was in and out of being oriented. At first he wouldn’t let me even listen to his lungs, saying things like, "You’re a pretty girl, but you’re getting uglier by the minute!" and "Only cowards hit women, and I’m going to be a coward tonight!" Excellent. A few hours later, he was apologizing and saying he shouldn’t say those things, then serenaded me with, "You’re too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you…" for at least an hour.
Next up? Anesthesia made Joe a bit wacky (as is common in the elderly), so Joe thought I was trying to kill him. He was nauseated so I was pushing IV Zofran, and he asked how long it would take…I told him maybe ten-fifteen minutes to set in, and he said, "Oh, so I don’t have very long…" and when I questioned what that meant, he told me he thought it was meant to kill him. Nope. He mumbled something about having worked for the FBI and how someone would find out what I was doing to him. At the end of the shift, I was in his room cleaning up to prepare for report, and he said, "Well, whenever you finish running around, you should come cuddle with me. No sex, just cuddling. You know, like people used to do by the fireplace." Oh Joe.
i could get used to this
If you’ve never had a disoriented old lady turn her head, look you in the eye, and say, "You’re really pretty…" then you’re totally missing out.
I’ve also had the same thing happen, but instead she said, "You don’t know what you’re doing!" (Which was possibly true since I had only been a nurse for less than three months…)
and then there are the crazies
Cute, hm? In other news, I’ve chased patients down the hallway with the AMA form they needed to sign after ripping out their IV and proclaiming that they’re leaving. (Only to show up again hour later saying that they "just went out for a walk.") And that’s only the tip of the iceberg…
Any nurses out there have a story they want to share? Also, let me know if you’re a nurse (with a blog, or without!) and I’ll give you a shout out later this week!