Wrapping up Nurse’s Week here! I had an idea of what I wanted to write about, then I started poking around on the internet for some other opinions and to see what others have said about it. It led me down a rabbit hole that I’m not 100% happy I ended up in, so maybe instead of a super structured post, I’ll just talk for a bit.
My original plan was to start with Jimmy Kimmel’s speech about the recent birth of his son. If you’re on social media in any aspect, you probably saw the video floating around a couple weeks ago. His son was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. Everything was going great until a few hours after he was born. A nurse was assessing him and heard a heart murmur and saw that his color was off, so she took him to another nurse to be checked out. (I can totally picture this happening – “This is what I think, do you agree?”) They agreed and called a doctor, and it was off the races. (He’s doing well and is now home, hooray!)
One of the things that really stuck out to me about what he said (beside the whole healthcare situation, of course) is how he thanked every member of the team. Of course, I’m partial to the fact that he specifically called out nurses – by name! He was very appreciative of the expertise and skills of the nurses. He didn’t say, “And the DOCTOR didn’t even notice, it was the NURSE who did,” which is what I’ve heard plenty of. This is usually said in the tone of, “Can you believe it had to be the nurse who noticed?” To which I can only think to say, “I don’t know what you think we do all day, but it’s part of our job to notice when things aren’t going right…”
It was when I was searching around the internet that I got really upset about all this. (I read the comments. Never read the comments.) I don’t claim to be a doctor, and I don’t claim to know as much as a doctor. I never bossed doctors around, although I may have strongly suggested something or called to question/discuss an order because I didn’t understand why we were doing what we were doing. That’s also part of the team effort and is something doctors, nurses, patients, families, etc should all appreciate. We’re human, and unfortunately mistakes can be made (by anyone on the chain). As the nurse, I work under orders, but that also means that I may be the last line of defense before harm reaches the patient, so it’s important to use my education and experience and not blindly carry out orders.
It would be amazing if one person could do every single thing a patient needs, but that’s just not possible. When I had surgery in August, it was fascinating and eye opening to be on the other side of the fence. I hoped I would be a good patient and that I wouldn’t cause any problems. I hadn’t planned on staying overnight in the hospital, but they ended up keeping me for “pain control” – I didn’t have pain, but oh well. It was so interesting to see other people doing my job! I did tell them early on that I was also a nurse, mostly because it was 11:30pm by the time I got to my room and I wanted to disturb my roommate as a little as possible. In the middle of the night, I needed to use the bathroom, so I rang my call light and someone helped me to the commode. Which then of course needed to be cleaned, and I felt so bad that someone needed to do that for me. Also, I’m convinced time really does slow down when you’re waiting for someone to help you to the bathroom!
The morning was when I really got to see the hospital in full force. A parade of people came into my room – the day shift nurse and tech, anesthesia/pain management to check on my PCA (“I used it once, can I have PO meds so I can go home?”), the surgical resident (no clue who that was), a diet tech to take my lunch order, a dietitian to tell me to eat more to heal, a social worker (“I don’t think I need one…” Answer: Everyone needs a social worker!), and a physical therapist.
Whew. That’s eight people! For a fairly simple surgery. Not to mention housekeeping, the front desk staff, etc etc. I mostly kept thinking, “I know how all this works, I can’t imagine what it feels like for someone who has never been in a hospital before!” But to see the team work together and each person play their part – it was so cool to see from the other side.
Seeing everyone in action when my weight bearing orders were being straightened out was crazy! Somehow it got put in that I was to be non-weight bearing, which meant I would need a wheelchair and a commode at home (because the wheelchair wouldn’t fit in the bathroom, I can only imagine what a disaster that would have been). So all of a sudden the social worker is working out getting equipment sent to my apartment and the physical therapist is trying to contact my surgeon/PA (since it was Saturday and the residents didn’t really know me) to see if I was actually allowed to walk like the plan was all along.
This took awhile to figure out, as things do in the hospital, but then we ended up on a time crunch to reverse everything once we got word I could walk (with crutches, of course). PT made sure I was safe on the crutches, the social worker quickly cancelled the delivery minutes before they were done working for the day and hopefully before the equipment was out for delivery (it was all worked out), my nurse got my discharge stuff together, a resident came to change my bandages, and away we went. (Then the fun of being home with Eric and my mom as my nurses started!)
Seeing everything in motion and knowing what’s going on really shows you what a team everyone is. As I said above, I’m partial to the efforts of nurses because I am one. To hear Jimmy Kimmel call out a nurse as the first person to recognize something with his son really touched my heart. He then went on to thank so many people (by name, first and last for some!) who worked with his son. When they realized something was dangerously wrong, I can picture everyone filling the room and each person doing what they were trained to do – nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, etc etc. Seeing people all working at the same time, just knowing what they need to do to help someone is really fascinating.
Sometimes during Nurse’s Week, you read about people saying, “What about the EMTs? Or the nursing techs? Or the lab staff?” I suppose I should say I don’t know when their days to be celebrated are, or if they even exist. But I also know that I couldn’t do my job without them either. We all bring different skills and knowledge to the table, and it really is the team that helps people. After the fiasco with the “doctor’s stethoscope” a few years ago, I was so thankful for Jimmy Kimmel expressing his gratitude for nurses….but also for the whole team. We’re all in this together.
Alright, so I’m still unclear as to what the point of this post was. Maybe I sometimes feel that nurses end up slipping under the radar, and I’m glad to that we get recognized from time to time. But I also know how important each person is in the health care system and how we all just want to help people in our own way. Happy Nurse’s Week to all the nurses out there reading, and thanks to everyone on the team who helps us help patients.