Toileting: is it really necessary?

  1. Had an issue not too long ago that arises much less often than I would once have imagined: a female patient of mine needed help to toilet and requested a female to assist her. I have no problem whatsoever with such requests. My feelings aren't hurt, nor do I feel lucky to have the excuse to avoid the task. It is, as they say, what it is, and the only thing about it that surprises me is that it happens so rarely.

    Well, that and one other little thing. In the time it took to accommodate that patient's preference, I could have dome the job myself about 11.732 times. It was a busy time on a busy unit, but I was the only freakin' male on the floor, and had to use some serious critical thinking to resolve the matter. And all the while this poor lady was waiting to have her brief changed.

    I get it, I really do, but it brought back memories of another patient, years ago,female in her early twenties who was a neurosurgery POD 1 and asked for a bedpan because when I'd helped her ambulate to the bathroom earlier in the night, she'd had severe nausea afterward. No sweat. And could I please get a lady to help her? Again, no sweat. Called the aide, problem solved, on with my appointed rounds. Until, 10 minutes or so (felt more like an hour, to me) the girl's father flags me as I pass and says can I please help her, now, because she can't hold it any longer.

    I was 13 years old when I started "working," helping my Dad during the summer in his home improvement business, partly as a life lesson and mostly because my widowed father didn't want me on my own all day. In the years since, I've had good jobs and crappy jobs. I have been annoyed, frustrated, pissed-off, happy, elated, and even bored, but in nearly fifty years of working life, that was the ONE AND ONLY TIME, EVER I was ashamed of where I worked, and the fact that I still work there required a lot of really hard swallowing.

    Sorry. I think I was heading for a point before this turned into a rant, but I can't recall what it was. Sitting here in tears, wondering once again if they didn't give me a female heart as I tell other parts of my anatomy that I am way too old and it's way too early in the day to go out and pick a barfight.
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   oceangirl1234
    What did I just read?
  4. by   nursemike
    Quote from oceangirl1234
    What did I just read?
    I think I started out just meaning to grumble about why it's sometimes not so easy to find a female to help a female patient, because it seems like it ought to be the easiest thing in the world, at first glance. But then, uh, you know, the voices came back...
  5. by   GrumpyRN
    Learn to say to the female patients - "I can help you now, or you can wait 10 to 20 minutes until a female nurse is free, your choice and either one suits me." All said with a smile.

    As for the voices - they are telling you you need to think about retiring. I had my first job at 14, left school at 15 and retired at 62. I was sore, tired and grumpy. The inner monologue will be "I am too old for this sh..." Next thing it will be "I am WAY too old for this sh...."

    Think of yourself.
  6. by   nursemike
    Had a year off on medical disability, now starting to get back into the swing a bit and loving it way too much to retire. But, yeah--part of how i know I'm back is that I have enough energy to gripe about little stuff.

    The fairly recent situation was as you describe and really just a case of unlucky timing. And I do try to say during my first assessment that I'll be happy to help with whatever they need, but if they prefer a female for personal care, let me know and we can probably accommodate them. Then I kind of wandered off on a psychotic break over a prior instance of willful dereliction. I'm actually working on trying to head off that sort of thing before I flip out, but it's a work in progress.
  7. by   TriciaJ
    Quote from GrumpyRN
    Learn to say to the female patients - "I can help you now, or you can wait 10 to 20 minutes until a female nurse is free, your choice and either one suits me." All said with a smile.

    As for the voices - they are telling you you need to think about retiring. I had my first job at 14, left school at 15 and retired at 62. I was sore, tired and grumpy. The inner monologue will be "I am too old for this sh..." Next thing it will be "I am WAY too old for this sh...."

    Think of yourself.
    Working for 50 years? Unless you have to dumpster-dive, get out now. Save yourself. I know whereof I speak.
  8. by   hppygr8ful
    O those pesky voices - hopefully it's just inner monolog and not something more serious.
    Like Grumpy says it may be time to retire. If your daily job makes you want to go pick a bar fight (Have your seen Fight Club? great movie) Then it's time to dial back a notch. Oh and of those voices keep bothering you, you should seek help from a mental health professional!

    I am not trying to mean or snarky but I am a psych nurse!


    Hppy
  9. by   nursemike
    At this point in my life, winning a lottery jackpot would put me in a serious quandary. I came back from medical leave doing two twelves instead of three, and I think that was wise, but lately I'm considering picking up extra shifts here and there with an eye toward going back to full time within a few months. (So, yeah, a psych consult might be in order). I was just kidding about the voices and the bar fights--I'm actually taking it as a good sign that I'm getting comfortable enough to grumble. Not long ago, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do this, and I still do a little happy dance after a successful IV start. All I really meant to do here was whine a little about how hard can it be to find a female staff member, and I actually know the answer to that. We had to sit one aide for a suicide risk, and my patient's request just came at a time when everyone was hopping. If there's really anyone to blame, it's probably me for not figuring out more quickly that I could relieve the sitter for a few minutes while she helped my patient, which is what we eventually did. Even there, I recognize that it isn't always easy to think with all those v--I mean, so much to do.

    I wound up getting a lot more dramatic than I started out to be when I started thinking about another situation from years ago, which did have me pretty seriously ticked-off at the time. I think what upsets me more, today, was that I didn't handle the situation better, or at all, really. Anger management actually is a little bit of an issue, in the sense that I have a strong inclination to try and bury "negative" feelings. I'm getting better about not waiting until I start using words I learned as a carpenter, and now I'm thinking I might give some thought to letting go of ancient history, once in awhile. But I ain't remotely ready to retire.
  10. by   LPN2BECanada
    As a CNA (Health Care Assistant in Canada) slowly working my way to becoming a LPN, I am in a similar spot as you are now. I'm about 12 years younger than you, who got into the health care business basically as a forced career change. Just like you, I worked my way up from a little kid in the warehouse, climbed through the corporate ladder and had earned an extremely high income without needing to change people's diapers, give medications, take urine samples and take offensive verbal and physical abuses. I had never considered working in health care, although my mother who was a RN nurse sort of inspired me to become one when I was younger. But my dad, who is a successful businessman thinks a man should be in business and not work as a nurse!
    In fact, when I decided to pursue a career in health care, my dad was the only person who opposed my decision, saying that I am degrading myself as a corporate manager now becoming a human janitor. Well, to be honest, I am working as a human janitor. While I was in school earning my certificate as a HCA, many of my classmates could not figure out why the heck a corporate manager with high pay would even consider working as a CNA?

    In school, I even hated the practicum part. You know -- changing incontinent pads, using sit-to-stand and ceiling lifts. It's very labour intensive and the smell of urine and feces. I think the only labour intensive part of being a manager was pushing the pen. At the age of 49, the physical part of this work can take a huge toll on me. It took me about 1 month to get used to that. I used to cry nights wondering, why the heck did I ever consider this stupid career. But deep inside of me, my heart burns with passion and desire to serve even if my EGO, the little voice inside of me tells me to quit!
    Even after I graduated and got hired working in facilities and in homes, I always get a sense that I don't belong in this career, but I think that because I'm a man, they kept assigning me to work in the mental health wing. And most of the time, I work with aggressive and violent behaviour clients; those who very few care aides and even nurses would not stay long in the wing and hang around. And so, toileting women and giving vaginal supp are part of my chore. Yes, I do get a few aggressive refusals. But I told them that it does not matter how many times you press that call bell that no female care aides and nurses will come to help you. Sometimes, I even get refusals from people who only want white care aides. Btw, I'm Asian and it doesn't matter how many times they press the call bell. There are no pure white care aides in the facilities I work. Again, this is nothing new.

    I find that working in health care is not what I expected, but so far I'm liking it. I actually told myself that if I keep hating my job for a year, then I will quit the job and find some other job. That's why I didn't take up nursing first because I wasn't sure if I'm going to like this new career or not. But so far, I'm liking it, so I decided to work my pre-requisites in becoming a LPN . Health care is not a glamorous job, nor you will get many thanks from clients and patients. But as long as my heart burns with the fire of passion to help, then I'll continue to work in this field. My passion to work in my former career died long ago and I was simply working just making the money until I got laid off and the industry died then.
    Last edit by LPN2BECanada on Nov 29
  11. by   nursemike
    Quote from LPN2BECanada

    I find that working in health care is not what I expected, but so far I'm liking it. I actually told myself that if I keep hating my job for a year, then I will quit the job and find some other job. That's why I didn't take up nursing first because I wasn't sure if I'm going to like this new career or not. But so far, I'm liking it, so I decided to work my pre-requisites in becoming a LPN . Health care is not a glamorous job, nor you will get many thanks from clients and patients. But as long as my heart burns with the fire of passion to help, then I'll continue to work in this field. My passion to work in my former career died long ago and I was simply working just making the money until I got laid off and the industry died then.
    Sounds to me like you're on the right track. It's smart to give yourself time to see what it's really about before jumping in headfirst. If you can look at this job for what it is and still love it, you're well on the way to excelling at it. And while our patients may often have more on their minds than expressing their appreciation, during my time on the wrong side of the bedrails, I got a first-hand look at how much a good aide matters. Those, um, non-glamorous tasks aren't any less uncomfortable to the one receiving the care. Your efficiency and sensitivity as you perform them do a lot to make the experience bearable.

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