Monday, April 5, 2010


Wow. Well, I've been kind of a slacker at updating, but I have my reasons- I kind of worry that all of this comes across as a giant bitch fest half the time.
So I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify- I'm not a completely hateful person. I don't, in fact, despise all of my patients- actually, I really, really like most of them. It's just a lot funnier to tell about the ones that call me a hoe and expect me to bring them a cheese sampler than it is to tell you about the ones that tell me how I'm kind and beautiful and how I should get a raise.

It's hard to think of those people sometimes. Especially when you start your shift like I did last week. I'm going to create a mental picture here. I've been at work 5 minutes. I go in to see the first patient of the day, who is a woman in her 40's with a mild pneumonia who is about to be discharged. I walk in with her papers to find her sitting in bed with an emesis bag in her lap as she leans over the bed rail and spits mucus on to the floor, all over the monitoring cables. She greets me by silently pointing to the mucus on the floor. When that fails to impress me, she proceeds to complain to me about how she hadn't eaten a thing all day and that she had asked for some iced tea and some bread 2 HOURS AGO. Now 10 minutes into my shift, I had already reached my bullshit capacity, and my response to her was, "Ma'am. If your cough is so terrible that you can't control yourself enough not to spit all over the floor, I don't think it's a good idea for you to eat anything right now. I'm gonna get you one more breathing treatment, and then you can go home and eat your food there. Thanks."

Crap like that can ruin a shift so fast.
That being said, I've had some of the most wonderful people under my care lately. I took care of a woman who kept converting in and out of A fib- she was sick enough to warrant a trauma room yet she complained about absolutely nothing. Instead, she and her husband spent the night telling me about their kids and grand kids. They hugged me goodbye when they went up to the floor. They told me to make sure to tell me parents how proud they should be that I was such a good nurse at such a young age, and asked for my address so they could send me a thank you card.
That same day, I took care of a young guy with a massive throat laceration from a chain breaking loose from his chainsaw. He probably came within centimeters or less of severing his jugular, yet he spent most of the evening joking around with me and the doctor about how he wanted her to put some stitches on the other side so he could get a face lift. I was tempted to leave work and take him and his wife for a beer.
I hope it's clear that I take care of mostly people who aren't incredibly notable but are still remarkably patient, gracious and funny despite our average 6 hour waits. It's just so easy to take them for granted when the argumentative whiners, the "how much longer"s, the drug seekers and the ones working for performance of the year seem to take up 95% of my time.
It sucks, since it's unfair for the patients who act right- especially since most of them are actually sicker. I feel like I'm aware of this, too, and it makes me all the more pissed off at the patients who waste my time by treating my like their personal waitress.

So, I'm trying to work on this. A lot. I think if I spend more time thinking about the sweet patients than the awful ones, then I'll generally be a happier person. And the true challenge- if I learn to set better limits with the a-holes (something I still really suck at doing, because I still want all my patients to love me), I think I'll spend less time banging my head against the wall as soon as I leave the room and more time getting stuff done. I just have difficulting knowing how to stand up for myself when someone is being disrespectful but not outright swearing at me. Someone needs to teach a class on that- "Overcoming condescending tones and general douchebaggery for first year nurses". Now that's a CE I would pay money for.


  1. I really appreciate the comment. That's the best compliment I've had in a while. Thanks a million.

  2. Great post. And true. I like to hear about the good stories. Sometimes the med bloggers can get a little scary and forget to let their humanity show.