suejgee 3,528 Views
Joined: Apr 3, '13;
Posts: 10 (70% Liked)
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As a fellow Hospice Nurse, I completely understand what you're saying about the level of emotion caring for those who are approaching the end of life generates. And, as you said, we are caring for the entire family as well as the patient. They do become like family to us over the course of time. And I also completely understand why you would consider other career options after an experience such as you describe. I have had the same thought process as well, but come back to the same conclusion. A Hospice nurse is who I am, and like you, I remain dedicated to this area of medicine. Thank you for sharing this moving story.
Sue Gibbons, RN, BSN, CHPN
And then she said, "Yes, I'm sure that's where the foley goes."
Not judging is the first step toward helping. I understand the frustration, I've been in the same professional boat you describe. But kindness doesn't go unnoticed. You won't be able to help everyone, to be sure, and, you're right, many people don't want to recover. But you never know who may respond to your non-judgmental attitude in a positive way. If one person can be spared putting themselves through hell, then your kindness is well worth the time you spend.
To the person who reached out to me, I'm not ignoring you, just can't post privately on this site. My advice would be to seek some professional assistance in dealing with the problem, so as to get that completely under control first. Then revamp your resume, take a good, solid inventory of what it is you really want to do in nursing, and move on from there. And remember, recovery = freedom. You can achieve whatever you want to achieve, it may be rough at times, but it's not impossible. I wish you all the best of luck with this!
Don't blame yourself. We who are addicted have to own the responsibility of recovery. Perhaps your reaching out to her may have helped, but she may not have been in a place to be able to accept your concern. This may be what she needed in order to put her recovery back together. The best thing you can do for her now is to support and not judge. I promise you she'll be grateful for that.
Glad to see you're out there and doing well. There are far more of us than people really want to know about.
The negativity has not been directed toward me, freesia, but toward the patients. I'm well aware that work is not a social event, and I am quite proud of my recovery. I share my struggle with people who have a negative attitude towards addicted individuals so that perhaps they can recognize a little caring and consideration can go a long way in assisting a patient on a road to recovery, rather than making them feel more worthless than they already do. My article was in no way a "pity party" for myself, it's about raising awareness in terms of the profound effect attitude and words can have on the people we're charged with taking care of.
If this comment was addressed to me, the author, I didn't say anything about God. If you weren't referring directly to the article, my apologies.
SOS or Save Our Selves is a secular alternative to 12-steps. It's focused on self-empowerment rather than the higher power concept. I've found, in my own recovery, the notion of powerlessness to be counter-productive. This is not to say it doesn't work for many, but I don't believe it works for everyone. Perhaps the patient you're referring to could benefit from SOS -- just google Save Our Selves and it will take you to all the SOS links available. I know it worked for me. I've been sober for fourteen years without a relapse. Good luck!
My name is Susan, and I'm an alcoholic. I'm also a registered nurse, hold a bachelor's degree in Human Services, and a Masters in Human Service Administration. I have diabetes, a cirrhotic liver, and haven't had a drink in fourteen years. And, in spite of my continued sobriety, accomplishments, and dedication to working in the helping professions, I am still considered a social pariah by many. I continually ask myself why the judgment cast on those with addictions by those who have dodged that genetic bullet is so harsh as to be venomous. I still can't seem to come up with an answer.
I'm not one to be shy about sharing the fact of my alcoholic history. I was a very functional alcoholic, never lost a job, got a DUI, had a marriage break up or any of the hundreds of things that one typically thinks of as "normal" for someone who drinks as much as I did. My consequence was ruptured esophageal verices, a condition that very nearly ended my life. I haven't had a drink since -- that was enough of a wake-up call for me. But, had it not been for one very talented, non-judgmental and supportive GI physician, I may well have gone back on the road to self-destruction. He put it to me simply, stating that if I drank again I would certainly die, perhaps not immediately, but before too long. His demeanor and non-judgmental attitude (which was not matched by his colleagues) made me think that perhaps I wasn't such a bad person after all. Maybe there was a reason for me to work on staying sober and continuing on with my work with severely mentally ill people. He didn't just save my life in the medical sense, he also helped me to see that my addiction didn't define me. It's a characteristic, not the essence of who I am. Without that support, it would have been much more difficult to move forward.
Those who have never lived with the shame, guilt and self-loathing of addiction cannot possibly understand how the words and attitudes of others, especially professionals, impact the potential for recovery. If an alcoholic or addict is being told, verbally or otherwise, that their addiction makes them less human than the patient in the next bed, it's a fair bet that message will only reinforce what the addicted patient already believes about him or herself: "I am worthless, so why even bother to attempt sobriety? I don't deserve anything more than the hell I'm already putting myself through."
In my nursing career, I've seen this on a daily basis - some of my colleagues don't even attempt to hide disgust when taking care of someone with alcohol and/or drug addiction. Granted, we who have visited that personal hell largely created our own problems. And, as such, the recovering among us (who number more than the average person may think) own that fact and keep it in the forefront of consciousness. After all, anyone who's escaped that madness intact and spent any extended amount of time living sober typically has no desire to go back. It happens, to be sure, but I can only guess that the push has to be enormous for anyone to consider revisiting the twisted existence that is addiction. The bigger issue, however, is the jaundiced (pun intended) view of the caregiver. There seems to be no shortage of self-righteousness among those charged with assisting the addicted person on a path to wellness.
I've heard my colleagues refer to alcoholic patients as "scum," "piece of crap," "waste of human flesh." I've heard pronouncements like "She did it to herself, I don't feel sorry for her." Often these words are uttered shortly before the person casting the judgment goes off the unit for his or her smoke break, an irony I would find amusing if it wasn't so hypocritical and the person so mean-spirited. Yet, this is a daily occurrence, and I don't see it changing anytime soon.
How, then, do healthcare professionals find a way to drop the judgmental attitude and start caring for a person at the core of their being, rather than seeing only the surface of the addict? I firmly believe that education is key - most healthcare professionals only get a smattering of addiction medicine in school, which is ludicrous given the number of addicted patients a nurse or doctor will see in a given year. Learning about the root causes of addiction: genetic, environmental, psychiatric and behavioral may serve to assist professionals in seeing addicted patients more as human beings with medical or psychiatric disorders as opposed to self-indulgent, lazy people who don't deserve the same care and consideration as do people with less "annoying" illnesses.
If one sits down and has a conversation with an addicted person regarding the problem I think there would be one universal truth communicated. That is, no one sets out to become addicted to anything. It's not a goal one strives for. It's an insidious problem that wraps itself around the brain, and before the affected person can think twice, it's there. The fact is, people with addictions to substances don't possess an "off" switch. If we did, we could drink like "normal" people do - a glass of wine with dinner, a cocktail before bed - but we can't. And an enormous piece of recovering is regaining a sense of self-worth, a feeling that maybe the hard work ahead will be worth it. Finding people to support this process isn't easy. But each and every healthcare professional who cares for an addicted person can make a start. By treating the alcoholic or addict with the same respect and kindness shown to someone with a more "conventional" medical problem, there's a chance the message "you're worth my time, so you're worth making the effort to overcome this" may be conveyed. I know that message came through loud and clear to me. Without it, I wouldn't be here.
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