How could we ever forget the old commercial:
“Remove wrenched ankle..HA-HA-HA!”
I wanted to punch that kid, and I was about the same age!
I was not a good player of “Operation”, either, I always made the nose light up.
Good thing I didn’t go into surgery, folks would be running around with electric, red noses.
The price of the game today? $14.99 on amazon.com.
Did they increase the fee paid for removing that ankle?
I bet the “fees” haven’t changed from the original game. Guess it isn’t so far from real life as I thought.
I am a hollow shell.
How’s that for a dramatic beginning?
It’s how I feel right now, and it hasn’t changed since I last left my unit..
I expended so much mental and emotional energy during my run of night shifts. And no one was critically sick.
Let’s make things clear from the outset, so you don’t think I’m a burnt out old hag.
The vast majority of patients who present to the emergency department are patients who are anxious about something that is happening to their body. It may be serious. It may be nothing.
But they don’t know that.
My job is to validate their feelings, help relieve their symptoms, plan an approach to help them solve the problem and make sure they have the resources to follow up.
This is what I do as a nurse. I engage my patients. I am there for them and my physical and emotional energies are directed at helping them get through a stressful time, be it a life-altering event or a minor illness.
It can be exhausting, but it’s a good exhaustion. A sense of accomplishment. The feeling that maybe my presence and my nursing care made a scary time easier.
But what are you supposed to do when you are being “played”?
When the BS is so thick the unit needs twenty-five septic tanks just to handle triage.
When you might as well be a waitress at the IHOP because all you are basically doing taking the patient’s order, and the patient knows you will do it because they are, well, the “patient”.
When all you are is a legal conduit for drug administration with a clean needle.
When the story you are being told as “history of present illness” has so many holes in it swiss cheese is a block of marble in comparison.
And they know you know it.
But you have to treat them.
And they know it.
I’m not a perfect nurse by any stretch of the imagination (and I have a unit full of colleagues to confirm it!), but I put my heart and soul into my patients.
And I hate being manipulated. More specifically, I hate being part of a system that can be manipulated, at will, by anyone who knows the right buzz words.
Trust me, I see right through the act.
Do they see right through mine?
I am acting, you see.
These patients will never, ever see the anger, frustration, and fatigue (emotional and physical) that being manipulated engenders.
They will get a smile, a warm blanket tucked in, their meal delivered, detailed discharge instructions discussed with them.
Because while I may not be a perfect nurse, I am one hell of an actress.
The performances I put on during a recent run of shifts were worthy of Emmys, Tonys, Oscars and Grammys. (Okay, hold the Grammys, I don’t sing.)
The patients got everything they needed, when they needed it. They also got everything they demanded, when they demanded it.
My charade really was the event of the season.
And I walked away feeling like my soul was dead.
To paraphrase a famous Prince song: this is what it sounds like, when a nurse dies.
I don’t like that feeling.
Thank God I’ve been in the profession long enough to know it doesn’t last.
But it hurts like hell to be numb.