Archive for December, 2018

Merry Christmas!

December 20th, 2018 No comments

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I turn into mush at Christmas time.  I start to think about past Christmases and people I miss, like my father, and friends and family that I never see anymore.  The nature of my work in Patient Safety keeps me concerned and angry a lot of the time, but  I have a hard time maintaining that during the holidays.  Recently I had to take  a break from a social media page, just because  of the griping, anger and finger pointing.

I have been reflecting on the people and things I am grateful for in my life.  I must be getting old and sentimental.  That’s ok, it’s good to say out loud who you appreciate.  Because so many of my recent conversations have been about nurses I am going talk about the nurses  in my life that I have been grateful for.

My aunt was a nurse.  She is gone now but she was very smart and she advanced her nursing education to become an anethetist.  We were not extremely close, but I always appreciated her input into my work and profession.

My first memory of being cared for by a nurse was when I was 5 years old.  My parents did a two for one, getting both my brother’s and my tonsils and adenoids removed.  I was sick to my stomach after so the nurse said as soon as I felt better I could have ice cream.  OMG….talk about getting to my heart.  I got better quickly and she was good for her promise.

When I was 10, I was hospitalized 70 miles from my home for issues with ear abscesses and for surgery to remove scar tissue where my adenoids use to be.  My first stay was in a large womens ward (8 beds or so), and I remember how efficiently the nurses removed the body of an elderly woman who died.  They were professional and silent behind those curtains.  I also remember how stern they were with me when they forbade me from visiting  the other little girl in the ward, because I was infectious.  They were protecting both me and her from further infection.  And then I really really remember a very kind and handsome orderly.  I was just old enough to have a crush.  I was actually mean to a nurse because I requested that HE take care of me…I was a besotted and demanding little girl.

Then there were the  nurses in my doctors and school offices when I was a kid.  I was a pretty hearty kid, so I didn’t have a whole lot to do with them.

In 1967, I went off to nursing school myself.  Some of the most amazing nurses in the world helped me to learn and to turn into a pretty decent nurse myself.  Then of course there were the staff nurses in the hospital where I trained.  They were our mentors and teachers too.  The patients were theirs, not ours.  But, we were assigned to their patients to learn and learn we did.  Looking back, they had to be the smartest and most patient nurses around to do that.

As a nurse so I was surrounded by nurses at my work.  Their abilities, and knowledge blew me away.  Nursing is continuous learning, and they taught me a lot.  I learned so much about how to establish a nurse to patient relationship.  Nurses have a particular skill to understand patients and to establish a 2 way trusting relationship in the first few minutes they meet.    I hope I passed along a lot of what I learned.

In 1973 I had my first baby.  Nurses taught me proper breathing, and coached me along during my labors.  They encouraged me and guided me until my first large baby boy emerged into this cold bright world.  I will never forget those nurses and their intelligence, their gentle touch and their guidance. The doctor just showed up for the main event.  I had a similar experience again just 2 years later. Those were two of the most significant events of my life, and my nurses were a big part of it.

When my youngest son was 10 he had his appendix out.  I would have given my right arm to go under anesthesia instead of him.  A nurse anesthetist found me in the hallway bawling like a baby and she stopped and asked me what was wrong.  She took the time to listen to my concerns, my fears and how powerless I felt about my sons experience.  She spent a lot of time with me and helped me through that fear.

I have had a few procedures while under anesthesia, and I was a nervous wreck about it.  When I awoke after surgery crying, every time,the recovery nurses asked “are you in pain”.  “NO”  i said.  “I am just relieved”.  They were so incredibly kind to me and helped me to get up and get out of those places as soon as possible.

Nurses have educated me, relieved my pain, responded to my needs and treated me with great concern and gentleness.

Then my Dad got a hospital acquired infection.  I was very angry.  He did not recover from that and died just about 10 years ago.  I wanted to blame the hospital, and everyone in it.  But as time passed, I recalled specific nurses who gave him incredible care.  They were respectful, kind, and gentle.  They used every recommended step in his care and they used the appropriate precautions for infections.  I remember the special touches, the ones who checked the condition of his skin, who kept him and his room spotless the ones who rubbed lotion on his heels and back, the ones who taped a paper bag for trash on his bedrail, the ones who brought him fresh cold water or coffee whenever he wanted it.  There are too many details to list, but what is seemingly a small thing may be a big thing.  I still blame that hospital for his infection, but I do not blame the entire staff of nurses and doctors, not anymore

After my father died, I wanted to do something to help stop the hospital infections like the one that killed him.  Who lobbied for my bill?  The Maine State Nurses Association.  Yes, nurses did that.  They know that hospitals can be unsafe for patients, and they want to stop that too.  We managed to get part of that bill passed into law.  Since then, I have helped them with their campaign to get better staffing in all hospitals, to make patients safer.

Some of my best friends are nurses.  Most of them sacrificed family time to work on holidays like Christmas to take care of other people who were sick or even dying.  Nurses nurture, comfort and give, and when the patient is dying, they hold a hand and talk to them, right along side the family.

The vast majority of the nurses are  professional, ethical and dedicated to the sick and dying.  It was no surprise to me to read the following news article today.  Thank you to the nurses in my life.  You have made an impact on me, my family and each other.  Keep up your tremendous work.



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