Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week 3: More Realities

   My hands are a wreck! Part of nursing (and medical care in general) is having proper hand hygiene. You are supposed to wash them for 15 seconds between every patient. Sometimes you can get away with just using hand sanitizer if your hands aren't visibly soiled, but it depends on the situation. And of course, you often wear gloves. Well after my first couple clinical days (today was the second hands-on clinical), my hands are so dry! This is my first job where I'm pretty sure manicures should be part of the on-job benefits. ;-) I honestly can't recall how many times I washed my hands today....but it was a lot!

   Today was a little more hectic than last time. My floor has three hallways, with patients evenly split amongst the three. There are usually 6 CNAs (2 per hallway), but today only 4 showed up. I don't know what happened to the other 2 and they didn't get anyone to replace them. I guess it was lucky the student nurses were there today, because CNAs now had 12 patients to take care of instead of 8. We rushed around trying to get everyone to breakfast on time, did the usual stuff. The last patient I dealt with is quite a colorful lady. Mrs. M is the one I mentioned before who hates men. Last week, I was with a male CNA and as soon as we entered the room she started yelling at us to get out and get her a woman. This seemed to put her into a bad mood the rest of the day because she just continued to yell at everyone to get out of her room, even when there wasn't anyone in the room. Today, I was a little frightened going in there, but this time I was with a female CNA and Mrs. M couldn't have been sweeter. She ate breakfast like a champ, and cooperated while we cleaned her up. Even though it was a little more crazy and busy today, it actually went pretty smoothly. Just goes to show that we have good days and days where we "wake up on the wrong side of the bed".

   Later, while we were doing a post-clinical conference with our instructor, she mentioned that there were 3 patients from last week that had died since we were last there. According to the nurses there, that's a lot in one week. I realize that in a place like this, there will be deaths. Even though I didn't know the patients that well, it's still sad. I was especially saddened to find out one of the patients that died was "Bob", who I mentioned last week. It was a little surprising because he seemed to be doing great last week, and then suddenly he was gone. My instructor told us that while it's sad, you have to protect yourself when it comes to large amounts of loss in these places. How ever you protect your mental state is up to each individual, whether it be in a humorous way ("bit the dust", "sold the farm", "took the train to celestial bliss", etc.) or if you just want to reflect for a moment. In some situations, you might lose 3 or 4 patients in one day, and it is hard to be numb to it while still having sympathy. I think this is where having some sort of religious conviction is extremely helpful. Regardless of what you believe, I have to believe something about happens after death whether it's heaven, hell or nothing, cause otherwise I don't think I'd last that long in this field.

1 comment:

Shamik said...

On death (as a hospice nurse): There are several things that help me. The primary one is to look at end of life and death as what they are: natural parts of life. That's my perspective. Patients and their families have a gazillion different perspectives. As a nurse, it's your task to meet the patients and the families where they are. Are they people of faith...utilize that for your empathy. Are they angry and bitter...support it as natural. Is each member of the family going in a different direction (VERY common)...assure them that any reaction is normal. For your own grief and sadness...let them touch your heart if they do so, but remember that it isn't your personal loss. Acknowledge the ones that are difficult, who you don't care about, bless them. Celebrate those who touched your heart and that you got the opportunity to get to know them, no matter how brief the time. Be open to extraordinary conversations and wisdom. People at end of life have no more pretense. Uh-oh...sorry...this is your blog, not mine! ;-)

Oh yeah...neutrogena hand cream...the Norwegian fisherman's formula!