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Eleanor's Story - Making a Difference

"Friday you go in for a fight ... then it happens ..."

to of a nurse with her eyes closed and her hand at her temple  appearing  worn.

It had been a horrible week. Wednesday the patient who refused her TED hose developed DVTs, the patient across the hall is a sweetheart but manages to break your back no matter how you transfer him, and the patient down the hall who will be a quadriplegic for life cried when he was discharged because he's still scared, the patient you are supposed to discharge home with a family member takes two people to transfer, has a raging UTI, low BP's and crackles and rhonchi, you tell everyone, doctor, case manager, the supervisor that said the patient shouldn't be discharged, and nobody listens.

A doctor seeks you out to remind you that her midline needs to be removed before she leaves (duh!)

So, you go take the darned thing out and he enters the room and yells "No you just pulled the midline! She needs IV antibiotics for her UTI!" Making you look stupid.

When you approach and ask if you should call for the PICC/midline team and he just yells, "Just go away!" Discharge canceled.

The supervisor tells you to "Suck it up" when you ask for help because you're behind because of the above situations, then the supervisor goes to lunch.

Thursday, DVT lady develops PE, you've been informed by Physical Therapy that back breaker is an easy transfer, midline lady is on PO antibiotics and angry about not discharging, respiratory status still not addressed. By the way, Diva patient is angry that her oxycontin has been discontinued and now she has to depend on her Fentanyl and oxycodone prn alone (more to that story).

Across the hall, a methadone patient has an ileus (refused all bowel meds prior). On the way home, after staying almost an hour late to catch up on charting, a tire goes flat, you feel like you got this, change the tire, but now you're so late that you don't have time to go birthday shopping for your kid's birthday tomorrow. The sitter can only stay until five thirty and you have to drop the rear tire off to get fixed. Bummer. Then you find another sitter that can only stay until seven. At the shopping center, you are so stressed you lose your cell phone and have to find customer service. Phone found, you grab some wrapping paper and check out, get to the car, and realize that car keys are also lost. You get the sitter to bring spare keys but it's now 7:30 and she's late for her meeting.

Friday, you go in ready for a fight. It's your kid's birthday and you resent not being there to see her wake up to gifts and a decorated house (which you stayed up until almost midnight doing.) You fly through your assessments and med pass with a fake smile and an angry disposition. Your co-workers tell you to just make it through today and you have the weekend off. You give them mean looks. WOW, what have you become? You take your lunch break and then come back with apologies all around. Your co-workers accept apologies because it was so out of character for you to be grumpy and they've been there too. But you're considering quitting and finding a nice job checking out groceries.

Then it happens...the little old lady comes up to you with tears in her eyes and a small package. She explains that you helped her husband turn the corner and get better and now he is going home. She believes you are the one who changed everything by listening to her when she told you how to deal with him. You were the nurse who believed her and adjusted the care plan so he was able to participate in physical therapy better. Now he's about to walk out the door with her and her eyes are filled with gratitude. The small package contains a wooden pen in a beautiful box. You don't accept gifts, but she explains that she is legally blind and took a taxi uptown to get the gift on a special trip for you. The gesture, more than the gift, is too much to refuse. She seeks out a couple of other nurses and gives them the same gift, explaining how they specifically helped her and her husband and then they leave.

You and your co-workers marvel at the gesture and hope you won't get in trouble for accepting the pens, but all agree that this is why you're here. You made a difference for someone...maybe you can do it again for someone else.

Nursing can be demanding and burn out is real, here's a book about strategies for renewal,

and a journal to remind you never forget the difference you've made.

Read more stories in: Off the Chart A Nurse's Journey of Heart and Humor

Published by Jennifer Tipton / This post may contain affiliate links.


1 Comment

Perfect article on the stress of an RN /caregiver. So often the continual stress overrides the affirmation. So many of the opportunities to support Nursing professionals are missed as is exampled in this article. Self care and team care is the survival technique. Both nicely suggested at article’s end.

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