It was just a matter of time
I’ve tried to limit the amount of nursing-school talk that appears on this blog because (1) I think it’s dangerous territory, (2) I think it’s probably boring to read, and (3) most of the time it would just be posts like this:
omgi’msostressed wtf i had too much coffee no sleep patients hospital patho toomuchinformation i can’t do this i’m dying omg i can totally do this! i rock! crap i think i totally have that disease i am so so so so so so so stressed omg i got a B! assess auscultate palpate percuss assess heart sounds lung sounds bowel sounds sounds sounds nursing diagnosis care plan screening bed bath bed pan meds foleys orders….is itdecember2013yet?
Therefore, I pretty much try to spare you on that front. You’re. Welcome.
But today was the first day I sat in my car at 9:14 p.m. crying, and I want to share it.
It wasn’t a bad day. In fact, it was a great day. During clinical I got to see a patient I had seen last week, which was unique and special in itself because I had a baseline and I had already gotten to know her well. But the fact that she was still in the hospital—and thus able to have me as her little student nurse—was not a good one.
So far, in a lot of my experiences I have been so focused on feelings both new and different that I’ve been less able to connect emotionally with my patients. Trying not to stab someone with a lancet or hurt them during a linen change or bug them or nag them or mess up tends to be on the forefront; all while trying to stay out of the way of nurses and techs and doctors, too. It’s tough to be both invisible when you need to be and yet stand up for yourself as much as possible — to see as much as possible, to assess as much as possible, and to get in there as much as possible.
But at some point during the semester — I’d say where we are now, nearly three months in — the confidence has begun to rise enough so that you can see the big picture. You know enough of the pathophysiology to understand what is going on with each patient. You have developed enough muscle memory in your hands so that you feel like less of a moron when you stick your stethoscope in your ears and listen to someone’s heart. Today for the first time I felt way more like a nurse and way less like a student pretending to be a nurse.
So, after spending the morning with a really special woman, getting to know her and making her laugh, and reading her chart and piecing together the ramifications of her diagnoses, I pulled into the garage in my building and the tears just came out of nowhere. It’s amazing how quickly you can develop a relationship with someone; how quickly and easily you can really care.
The way I process things is to write, so that’s what this post is. I want to remind future Nurse Laura — a title that seems so, so far away — about the first patient that touched her heart enough to bring her to tears. The first patient who called her by her first name and who joked and laughed and smiled with her. Who told her with solemnity that her biggest regret in life was that she couldn’t afford to go to nursing school herself. That she always wanted to be a nurse and was so jealous that I “got to be one.”
I just want to remember that although this is only the first patient who will break my heart and make me cry happy or sad or angry tears, that I do “get” to be a nurse. And my life is changing in beautiful ways I never thought it could.
I chose a profession filled with heartbreaking rewards. Sometimes, that will mean that this is what I do when I get home:
But that’s OK. Because this is what I’m meant to do.