Respect your bladder

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    An article on the most important lesson I learned during my first year as a nurse. Physical distress can augment our stress levels and a full and overfull bladder is often ignored by nurses as being prioritizable into their workload. As we are always looking for ways to improve nursing care, I found it is okay to take time to use the bathroom so we are not stressed out, pee laden nurses making bad decisions because our bodies are eliciting a stress response to us ignoring our physical needs. Its okay to pee at work. In fact, quality nursing care depends on it.

    Respect your bladder

    Along with all the other goodies I learned in my first year of nursing, my favorite lesson was the bladder lesson. No, I did not get a terrible infection or end up with measurable kidney damage, but I learned a lesson on stress. Physical stress. The kind that interfered with my still immature nurse-brain. I call this my first critical thinking moment of my career. And it happened at home.

    At 30 years old I had gone back to school, or rather, completed my 12 year associate's degree. I felt like I had the advantage of maturity knowing how to work and work hard. I had been at it since I was 15 and knew how to think fast and multitask like a madwoman. The technical and physiological information from nursing school had made sense and I felt like I was born to be a nurse. At my first job in a nursing home, I had 20-60 patients at once and I found that although it was difficult, it was manageable with organization and spontaneity. I got it. At least that is how I felt until I physically started breaking down.

    I was exhausted. I told myself it was because I was on my feet all day. Or that I was just tired from hearing everyone's problems or seeing constant hopeless cases and it was a mental fatigue. And I couldn't kick it. Suppliments? Nah. Diet changes? Ha ha. Nope, I was consigned to being one of those nurses that leaves the field after the first year because I just could not hack it.

    Then my husband asked if he could say something. We were learning to "communicate" again because nursing school had taken its toll on our marriage. In our new found language, he noticed that every day when I came home, I was running to the bathroom like it offered a footrub and chocolate. He asked me what my relationship with the toilet was, like I was having an affair. I told him I just needed to pee. And then the light turned on. I hadn't gone to the bathroom since I got up that morning! If I was my own patient, I would have sounded the alarm; bladder scanned myself, cathed or encouraged fluids!

    So I started to pay attention. Yep, I certainly was getting the signal to need to go. So I did. I treated myself with my own nursing interventions and started feeling better. I realized I was causing personal physical stress by ignoring my bladder. After taking time to go when needed, my workplace suddenly felt more relaxed, my mind was clearer and I stopped feeling so exhausted all the time. My new mantra became- "Feel stressed? Go pee."

    As I matured in nursing, I looked outside my problems and began to see what other nurses were dealing with. Watching a very harried nurse run from room to room, I asked if I could hang her next IV bag so she could go to the bathroom. As she ran jubilantly down the hall to the restroom, she asked, "How did you know!?" The nursing students I have following me around like little ducklings also benefit from my bladder revelation. It is very satisfying to tell them it is okay to pee.

    The moral of the story- Respect your bladder. If you need to go, go. We make crappy decisions and judgments when we are stressed and if going to the bathroom can reduce the physical stress on our bodies, it is more important than refilling someone's coffee or charting.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 7, '13
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    About decgrad

    Julie likes to advocate for other nurses. She believes that cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves.

    Joined: Oct '10; Posts: 9; Likes: 32
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in float pool

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  3. by   carolinapooh
    Yep, I learned this after a rather impressive episode of bladder spasms. Worst pain of my whole life (and I had a wrist rebroken and pulled into alignment under fluoro with NO DRUGS). PEE WHEN YOU NEED TO PEE!!!
  4. by   lovinlife11
    Very witty way of reminding us the basics. Well written.
  5. by   imintrouble
    Too late!
  6. by   applewhitern
    Years ago, at my first nursing job, I worked with 2 LPN's that always seemed to take their breaks regularly. One of them finally told me to sit down, quit running/standing all shift, and take time for myself. She said "you can't take proper care of anyone else, unless you take care of yourself first." She was right. I try to drink fluids, pee, eat a bite, ect., so that I will be in optimum shape myself. If I feel a headache coming on, I will take something for it immediately, rather than wait till it gets really bad. If I feel shaky, I will eat something right then. I can't tell you how many times per day I hear another nurse say they have a headache, haven't eaten all day, haven't had time to pee. Come on, it only takes a minute.
  7. by   NurseDirtyBird
    I get this. I make sure I take all my breaks and pee when I gotta. I don't take extra breaks and I don't take longer breaks than allowed. I was in the break room one day and someone said, "You are seriously the only nurse I've ever seen take breaks." I thought about it and realized I WAS the only one taking my breaks. I also realized that I got out at the end of the night at the same time or earlier than the other nurses I was working with. It really doesn't make sense to NOT take them.
  8. by   Heidimc
    ha yes ive been there! the amount of urine infections ive had especially as a 3rd year student and a newly first year qualified show that but your right your much calmer and can think better when you have listened to bladder
  9. by   amygarside
    Thank you for sharing this valuable lesson. Sometimes we really need to learn to take care of our body as well.
  10. by   TrissRN726
    This is a VERY important article! Thank you! I can relate to this all too well and as a result UTI's are not so comfortable! Go PeePee Nursies!!
  11. by   Meriwhen
    If I have to go, I go; there's very little that can't wait the 30-60 seconds that it takes. The only time I'll ignore the urge is if I'm in the middle of a code.
  12. by   BSNbeauty
    Love this article! I can totally relate. My husband thinks its psychological because every single time I come home I rush to the bathroom. I can go all day long without this urgency.
    I've learned to make myself a priority. If I'm stressed at work, I empty my bladder, grab a snack (sometimes while I'm peeing, I know gross), and drink fluids. So often nurses ignore themselves to take care of patients. Sometimes other things can wait.
  13. by   sharpeimom
    I used to be one of those nurses who could go all shift without peeing. My husband could go all the way to my aunt's in Cincinnati (approx. 6.5 hours) and pee when we got there. We'd take a trip to Chicago to visit my uncle which is a nine hour trip. He'd have to go once. He'd say if he had an empty Coke can, he'd be all set. I'd just want to dope slap him because I don't have that talent.

    I was lucky because I never had a lot of UTIs. I had a few and afterwards, I'd pee more often -- for awhile. But bad habits are hard to break!

    I had a stroke caused by an aneurysm the day after my 54t birthday and my bladder took a direct hit. Not a bad one but it was affected. When I'm tired, ill, have bad allergies, am in pain, my bladder drips. Not much, but just enough that I have to wear a pad. Not a thick or even a moderate one, just a thin one that I wish I didn't need to wear.

    Let me stand as your wicked example to pee frequently. The first few times I bought the stupid things, I bought a cart full of things we didn't really need just to cover them up. Shades of when I was 13 and bought Tampax!

    Pee when you have to pee!
  14. by   royhanosn
    I cant believe...or these days, maybe I can. You hesitate your body functions to be a good nurse, WOW! Do you answer your text or cell phone when it rings, when your with a patient.