“How was your day?” Can they truly understand?

medical-cross-icons-with-bgYou know you are a nurse when someone starts complaining about their day and how their car broke down or dinner wasn’t right and the kids are acting up. Typical stuff, what becomes the chatter of our lives as we roll along in it and through it, all the while creating our own flow seeking individual destinies.

You listen, because that’s what friends do. After awhile they ask about how your day was.

“You seem awfully quiet today,”  they might say.

I take a thoughtful pause because what weighs on me the most at times like that is not that HIPAA will swoop in and chastise me, but that most people cannot understand the scope of responsibility that we hold in our hands.

When you try to explain that whether a person lived or died was balanced on whether you gave a medicine or not, most people become frightened because they can begin to see their own frailty on this earth.

A patient knows

Only someone that has been a patient can appreciate the qualities of an excellent nurse and the desire to do the right things for the right reasons.

I know a few times under the knife has led me to an all new respect for many aspects of patient needs that I had never before considered.

Not being able to walk for two months with a pin in my foot taught me that water on a tray table out of reach is pretty worthless if you can’t get up.

That’s a simple enough change in behavior for me, but what did I learn from that change? I had less falls if people aren’t trying to get out of bed for a drink.

By one small change in my behavior, I improved the odds that my patient would survive until morning intact and alive.

What’s wrong with this picture?

A picture created of triage, history, diagnosis, orders and procedures all coalesces into the person that rolls through the door as our new patient which is always an incomplete picture.

Something is wrong with this picture and it is our job to figure it out.

I’ve had a patient for twenty minutes before the transfer to the cath lab with a code STEMI. Time is of the utmost importance and recognizing the symptoms and urgency is a learned art mastered by experience – for example, the experience of watching the patient that had the heart attack in front of you walk out the door and back to their lives.

It’s a tragedy averted and someone you never met before walks back into their lives like they were never gone. Or they don’t and that choice is often balanced in our hands whether we are aware of it or not.

How was my day? I pause before I respond to that question, because I know they will not understand and I will hold the treasure of the knowledge of what has occurred has changed the course of history forever, whatever the outcome. Or maybe we’ll just talk about the weather for a change.

I’m just amazed that God has placed me in this position of responsibility and wonder why he has so much faith in me because I never thought I had it in me.

He believed in me all along and that’s why I believe in Him. We all can create beautiful things with our lives if we choose to do so.

From start to finish, nurses create and nurture life and I cannot imagine any more beautiful thing in the world.

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