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he following moving stories and words of wisdom have been submitted by student nurses. Expressing joy, sadness, frustration and humor, these personal experiences remind us of who we are, what we aspire to and why we were called to nursing. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has agreed to share their stories.
Do you have a personal experience in nursing you would like to share with our readers? Please submit your stories using the Submission Form or e-mail them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Your Stories" in the subject line of your e-mail. Thank you!
Singing Velma To Sleep
The MOST IMPORTANT thing that I have learned, not through my CNA class, but through the school of EXPERIENCE, is to always advocate for your patients' rights. This includes their rights of privacy and
"Before there were all of these meds like Valium & Propofol, there was compassion."
dignity! Don't make your patient feel ashamed of anything, ever. They wouldn't do anything intentionally that you yourself wouldn't do. In other words, they don't have an accident just as you are going on break just to keep you from going out for a smoke. They do it because they can't control it! Basically, look at every patient as your mother or someone else that you LOVE VERY MUCH. Would you want your mom's caregiver flip-flopping her around in bed trying to change the incontinence pad after she wet the bed? NO! Would you want someone cramming nasty food in your mom's mouth when she's already said that she was full? Or by the same token, not feeding her when she says that she is hungry?? NO! Keep these in mind and you really can't go wrong giving patient care.
I remember my most rewarding experience as a CNA was when I was 17 and worked at the nursing home. It was 10:45 and I was doing last rounds before I could go home at 11:00. One of my residents, Velma, was having trouble sleeping. She asked if I could get the nurse to give her an Ambien. I am one that doesn't like to give PRN meds if there is something else that will do the trick, so I asked her if anyone had ever sang her a song to help her get to sleep. She said that no one had ever taken the time to sing to her since she had been at the facility, and that when she was at home she slept with the radio on every night. I had a jazz choir contest the next day, and I needed some more practice on the ballad which featured me as the soloist. So I sang her "If I Loved You," the love ballad from the musical "Carousel." Before I even got to the second verse, Velma had fallen asleep. When I finished the song and headed for the door I noticed most of the evening CNA's and the RN, as well as a couple of residents, standing at Velma's door. I stayed to finish my rounds and ended up leaving at about 12:00.
I figure that many patients don't often get the TLC they need more than meds and restraints. Before there were all of these meds like Valium and Propofol, there was compassion. Remember this and you
will be a great caregiver, and a fabulous nurse.
-Tommy J Blodgett, CNA, CMA, SN
The Power of Human Touch
I had my first ER clinical this weekend, I hope you don't mind me sharing. With all your postings about nursing homes let me tell you about one of my patients. They came in with severe pitting edema in the
I hope that when she reflects back she doesn't think about the beeping of monitors and equipment. I hope she remembers an empathetic shoulder and a warm hand.
left arm, both legs and feet. The condition had been about 3 weeks. The nursing home decided to wait until a Saturday morning to "unload" patients so their staff could have an easy weekend. On the right arm was a taped up wound. It was obvious to me and my preceptor that it hadn't been changed in a very long time. When we asked, the patient told us it had been about 3 weeks ago, after falling out of a wheel chair. As far as the patient could remember no one had taken time to change it. I won't describe what we found when we removed the tape. I should mention that there was no gauze to close the wound, only adhesive tape. The nurse that bandaged it didn't even have the heart to use papertape on elderly dry and thin skin. The patient wore a bracelet that sounds alarms should they try to leave the building. The patient did not have Alzheimer's and was not confused. Because of DM the patient could no longer walk. We couldn't figure out what the bracelet was for, except that possibly the staff was too busy to pay attention to their residents and this provided instant baby-sitting. Around the bracelet were bruises encircling the wrist where it was too tight. No one had bothered to loosen it. The patient wore a foley, that I guess they emptied when it got full, but around the closure was filthy. I was so sick by what I saw. This was my second patient of the morning.
Let me tell you about my first. I got to the ER about 6:45am to a crowd of people around the trauma room. A young, 18 year old kid had overdosed on Ecstasy. The kid had been taking a very popular over the counter diet aid for about a week. The kid went to an underage club and with a crowd of about 7 or 8
was talked into believing that Ecstasy was safe. When the paramedics got to the club, the patient had seized at least 3 times, temp was 109, heart rate was close to 200. The patient coded and was revived 3 times. The patient was stabilized in the ER. When the patient was sent to CT to determine just how
much of the brain had been damaged, I stood outside the door holding the mother's hand. She cried telling me about childhood memories, how her husband had left when her children were small and they were all she had. How this child was like her best friend. The cardiologist and neurologist came out to tell her that the prognosis was not good, even if the child made it through, there was no telling what the outcome would be. All major organs had stopped functioning. There was no brain activity. The only good thing they could say was that there didn't appear to be that much damage to the brain. They told her about transferring her child to ICU and that she should consider letting him go the next time his heart stopped. I held her hand the entire time. It seemed like hours, but in reality was only minutes. Her child died in the ICU two hours later. In the rush of the ER, nobody had the time to recognize her pain. I can't imagine what it must be like to watch your child die infront of you, in what was a completely avoidable situation. She had talked to her child about drugs, she had no idea her child was doing anything besides the diet aid. Possibly this was the first time they had experimented, and it went wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.
I just wanted to share with you. I didn't learn about the patient's medical condition, it was all way to over my head to understand in the hours I was there. I learned something much more important, the reason I chose to do this. I learned the power of human touch and understanding. I prayed with the mother, I prayed at home. I hope that when she reflects back that she doesn't think about the hustle in the ER and the beeping of monitors and equipment. I hope she remembers an empathetic shoulder and a warm hand. I hope each of you has a similar experience, not that I want anyone to experience a tragic death, but an experience that confirms your decision. Thanks for listening,
Just To Tell You Thank You
What does he want now? I wondered.
I had been to Mr. Carter's* room 3 times already in the thirty minutes since I came on duty. His naso-gastric tube was irritating his throat and I had checked the tube to make sure it was located properly. I had offered sips of water and ice chips. I had ordered some lozenges to help with the irritation.
You couldn't have known last night that you were thanking me in advance for the care you would so desperately need tonight.
Furthermore, I had just come from his room. Now his family caught me in the hall again to tell me he wanted me to come back. Doesn't he realize I have other patients to care for?
But he is important too, I decided. I will do my best to meet his need, I just hope I can find a comfortable solution for him.
As I entered his room, he said, "I want to thank you for helping me."
"You're welcome, Mr. Carter," I replied. "Glad to do it. What can I do for you now?" "Oh, nothing right now," he responded. "I just wanted you to come back so I could tell you 'Thank you."
Thank you! All night long his words rang in my ears. I was reminded of the tenth leper that came back to thank Jesus for healing him. Where are the other nine? Jesus had asked. I wondered too.
Mr. Carter was in his eighties. Acute illness often causes confusion and combativeness in elderly patients. When I returned to work the next evening, I found Mr. Carter agitated and confused. His family was with him, but they were exasperated in dealing with him. He tugged at his naso-gastric tube, catheter, and IV. He tried to get out of bed, but he would not be able to stand if he did. He fought and threatened me as I gently tried to provide the necessary treatments. He couldn't rest.
"You just get out of here. I don't have to put up with this!" he exclaimed as I held one hand and his son held the other to keep him from pulling at his tubes.
What is that you are saying, Mr Carter. "Thank you!" Oh yes, I hear you now. You are very welcome Mr. Carter. I am glad I can help you.
I reassured Mr. Carter and spoke firmly but gently with him, and he settled down. But his remission was short lived. We had given him sedation to help him rest, but he found no rest. His son and family stayed by his side to make sure he didn't injure himself, and I checked on him frequently as well. I called his physician to get further orders for something to help him relax, but nothing seemed to work. He later pulled his IV apart and blood was oozing everywhere. "See what you've done to me?" he accused as I struggled with him to put his IV put back together. "You have already cut my arm. Now just get out of here and take care of your own business!"
I'm having trouble hearing you, Mr. Carter. Oh, I hear you now. "Thank you!" You're welcome Mr. Carter. I just hope we can find a way to help you rest. You are wearing yourself out.
His son and I continued to wrestle with him. As I reconnected his IV tubing, he threatened "I don't want to get rough with you, but I can if I have to. Now you just go on and leave me alone!"
Sorry Mr. Carter. I know you are trying to tell me something. But I just can't comprehend your words. Seems the only thing I can hear you saying is "Thank you!"
After several hours of agitation, Mr. Carter finally fell asleep. He slept soundly the last two hours of my shift. As I made my final rounds that evening, I did a quick check to make sure that Mr. Carter was still ok, and I talked quietly with his family for a couple of minutes. I gave report and turned Mr. Carter's care over to the nurse who relieved me. Then I went back to Mr. Carter's room and stood quietly by his bedside.
Mr. Carter, it's not often that I am called back to a patient's room so he can tell me, "Thank you!" You couldn't have known last night that you were thanking me in advance for the care you would so desperately need tonight. It's been a struggle for both of us, Mr. Carter. I hope some of my words soothed your jumbled thoughts tonight. I know your wonderful "Thank you!" has soothed the strain of tonight for me. I am glad you are finally able to rest now. You have made me feel needed, helpful, and appreciated. I've already made my final documentation in your chart. But I wanted to come back to your room so I could tell you "Thank you!"
- Lois Turley, RN
Copyright by Lois Turley - used with permission.
*not the real name
Do you have a personal experience in nursing you would like to share with our readers? Please submit your stories using the following form, or e-mail them directly to email@example.com. Thank you!