Please don't judge me and my daughter

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    The night my daughter told me she wanted to kill herself was not an easy night. I drove her to the Emergency room that I used to work in, thinking they would care for her best. What I found was not true, and as a nurse and Nurse Practitioner I'm going to tell my story in hopes of making a change to the world I thought I loved, the world of nursing.

    Please don't judge me and my daughter

    The night my daughter told me she wanted to kill herself was not an easy night. I drove her to the Emergency room that I used to work in, thinking they would care for her best. What I found was not true, and as a nurse and Nurse Practitioner I'm going to tell my story in hopes of making a change to the world I thought I loved, the world of nursing.

    I now want to leave the only thing I've ever known because I don't want to be associated with cold, judgmental nursing with cold punishing eyes. I didn't ask for my daughter to be so depressed that she couldn't find another solution. The cold look in your eyes at me and my daughter spoke volumes.

    I hope you never are faced with this fear or with the overwhelming feeling of failure that I felt as a mother that night. Your job wasn't to pass judgement or to be so cold-hearted that my skin crawled. Your job, my sister, was to look at me and feel empathy and understanding. Your job, my fellow nurse, was to accept that I was in crisis and going through my routine was the glue holding me together. That included bringing my meals with me because besides nursing, my life in fitness was the only thing that made sense to me and filled me with the same passion nursing used to.

    Your cursing under your breath at the TV showed that you didn't see nursing as an art. To you, it was just a job that paid the bills. Your lack of compassion and not introducing yourself before you drew my daughter's blood showed me you thought my daughter was weak; while in my eyes, she is very strong because she reached out to me so she was able to get the help she needed.

    And to you the nurse who said it looked like we were camping out. Did you consider not everyone lives the same lifestyle and some of us may need food because of our way of life? Did you notice I kept everything neat and then cleaned up before we left? Did you consider that I needed that food and water to keep me from falling apart? How do you know that it wasn't for my daughter who has food allergies? As far as my daughter's belongings we had hoped she was coming home with me and she did. But you made us put them in my car and she walked out in the lovely paper scrubs provided for her.

    You didn't touch a life that night. Your lasting impression left me cold and disheartened for nursing. You left me embarrassed to tell others of the profession that I so dearly loved for so many years. If it's true nurses eat their young, it's also true that the nurse of today is not doing what the nurses of yesterday set out to do.

    Yes I realize that my daughter may have been your tenth suicidal patient of that particular shift or week. I also realize she may have been your first. Either way she deserved understanding and gentleness in your care, not detachment and cursing and rude comments passed. I deserved professional courtesy and maybe a distracting conversation.

    Again I pray that no one in your families suffer from such depression that they see no other way out. I hope that they go on to live beautiful productive lives. As my daughter will not because a nurse in the Emergency Department touched her life and changed it for the better but because her mother, also a nurse, never stopped looking at nursing as an art.
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  3. by   spotangel
    Wow! Cat Albretch so sorry to hear what you went through. I hope and pray that both of you are doing ok. A little compassion goes a long way. I am glad your daughter reached out to you and that she trust you with her deepest fears. Stay strong and be there for her and don't beat yourself up. We all have our own fears and demons we fight in private. Hugs and prayers to both of you!
  4. by   3ringnursing
    Cat ... I'm so sorry (and a bit horrified too).

    As a nurse and mother of a son with adult major depressive disorder, who only this week accompanied him to his PCP (a female NP he picked out himself over the male MD in the practice that my husband encouraged him to go to when he aged out of his pediatrician's office) I couldn't be more shocked than if I was slapped in the face with a dead fish. The very S/S's of depression itself requires a gentle, kind approach - what you and your daughter experienced was nothing short of a total lack of empathy, as well as disregard for a fellow human being most at need (not to mention complete lack of professional courtesy).

    I shudder to think of what may have happened to my son had we encountered what you described - some days he is merely hanging on by a thread. I have to admit you tolerated this lack of warmth and despicable behavior much better than I may have (I'm not entirely certain I wouldn't have privately informed this nurse that her complete absence of empathy has not gone unnoticed, followed by my thoughts about her cold demeanor with some choice and very unladylike adjectives).

    Please know this is not the norm, or what you would encounter if God forbid you and your daughter are faced with returning to the ER in future. I do telephone triage and encounter this very scenario several times a week - I try to treat each and every prospective patient as if they were my own child and quickly try to get them started on the help they need as quickly and painlessly as possible. I know personally what it is like to be in a vulnerable place, and realize people are at the end of their rope when they finally end up with me. There is no room for even insinuating lack of caring at this point.

    I'm not sure what state you live in, but the Crisis Response Network has an 800 number that can put you in contact with a certified crisis professional 24/7. They are available just to talk if needed, and can make BH appts, or send a crisis team to you in the privacy of your home. If this is outside of your area I bet there is something similar in your area if you check online: Crisis Response Network

    I sincerely wish you and your daughter the very best - from the mother of a son who also knows exactly what it is like to endure what you are going through. Hugs from a far.
    Last edit by 3ringnursing on Sep 22
  5. by   sanncmd
    I'm heartbroken when I hear stories like this. I find it so unfortunate when I run across nurses who seem to be hardened to suffering of our fellow man. I'm so sorry you had to deal with this. But please understand these nurses do not embody the profession, nor do they reflect everybody who practices nursing. I have definitely run across many who treat it as a JOB, but I've also come across many who see it as a calling. I consider it such. I think to be a truly effective nurse who inspires change, it is necessary to have empathy and to connect on some level with our patients. I've been told more than once that I clearly put my heart into my work. It's hugely rewarding to me. We're out there. Don't be discouraged by the poor examples you dealt with. There are still plenty of us out there with heart.
  6. by   TriciaJ
    I'm a bit dumbfounded. What did the nurses do or say that indicated they were judging you? The looks in their eyes? Could have been from stress, fatigue or myriad other things that had nothing to do with you or your daughter.

    I'm sorry you didn't get the help you needed. From having worked psych I know that a common complaint about ER staff is that they "lack compassion". I'm not entirely sure it is a lack of compassion. I think the way ERs are set up to function is probably just not conducive to meeting mental health needs. Until that changes the individuals involved can only do so much.

    I truly hope your daughter has found the compassionate care she needs and that you both are doing better.
  7. by   NerdyNrs
    Um ok... First I will say I am very sorry that your daughter is having a hard time, I hope she gets help and her road forward is smooth. One of the only things in this article I can agree with is that your daughter is very strong for asking for help. But wow...

    The title of your post is don't judge yet the whole article is judgement... or a creative writing assignment. What on earth does not introducing yourself have to do with deciding your daughter is not strong. That was very rude, but the rest is YOUR judgement of her thoughts and quite a leap. Cursing at the tv (inappropriate) means this nurse doesn't take her entire profession seriously? No judgement there at all.

    The nurses may have been a bit unnerved as it sounds like you moved in a great deal of belongings into an Emergency Room , with a small exam room and a patient at risk for harm. You say you needed routine in a crisis. This was one evening in an ER, your daughter was suicidal and you stopped to pack meals (plural) , enough water to comment on, belongings, and then stopped in for an emergency intervention. You write as one night and a bad nurse makes you embarrassed of the entire profession, the state of nursing today all because of a rude nurse, paper scrubs, and a lack of distracting conversation. Then came home and wrote flowery prose...

    Your daughter came home with you. This was the EMERGENCY ROOM. People should have more compassion, they could have been kinder. They could have coded several people while you were there. Perspective , you need some. For someone who says don't judge , remember glass houses.
  8. by   lpnsrock01
    I'm so sorry you had to experience that. My husband who has Major Depression due to chronic pain which never goes away, had suicidal thoughts that he spoke with his Psychiatrist about. Agreeing to be admitted to get his medication adjusted, he was assured he would be able to keep his ipod and earbuds for sleeping as this is one way he copes with his unrelenting pain. When we got to the the hospital he was put in a room in the ER and locked in, they thought he might kill himself with me in the room, and then was told he could not keep his earbuds as he might try to hang himself with them. At this time in his life he had blown up to over 400lbs as he could not exercise because of his back pain. Pretty sure if he tried he would have broken the earbuds wiring. He was also told he could not keep his Cpap machine as either he or someone else might try to use the tubing to hang themselves. I cried all the way home after I left him, they refused to let me go up the the floor with him. He called me so angry and on edge. I called his Psychiatrist who had me verbally agree to watch him at home and to make sure someone was with him while i worked and he came home. His medication was adjusted while I was monitoring him along with our sons and he did so much better. The bill of patients rights are null and void when it comes to admissions into Psych units it seems. I worked at the time as an MDS Nurse in a psych nursing home and told my administrator that if he gets bad I would rather he was there where people would care for him than in the hospital. The Tech they sent to assess my husband was abrupt and frankly a total smart ass with attitude. Never again.
  9. by   NickiLaughs
    Even though the ER is where people go to get help please be aware of some things.
    The first thing is that ER nurses are not psych nurses, we aren't good at the actual psychiatric care you are seeking, we are good at keeping you safe until we get you to where you need to be.
    At my facility all patients are undressed and placed in paper scrubs and belongings removed. It's a standard, we don't want your daughter or anyone else secretly sneaking in any way to attempt to hurt herself. We also don't allow outside food without first checking it and your daughter would not be allowed utensils, it's not to be mean but it is for everyone's safety with no exceptions. There are very certain protocols that she was likely trying to follow.
    Im sorry she came off as rude, however bringing lots of food in would not be allowed, we would likely ask you to step out and finish your meal. As I said before, the ER unfortunately isn't truly designed for psychiatric care but we do the best we can to keep people safe to get them to where they need to be.
    I'm sure most our psych patients come out of the ER feeling worse because of the rules, but at least they didn't come out dead because we let them have things they shouldn't and then had access to harm themselves.
    The whole system needs overhaul, there needs to be specific psych ERs designed for these patients. Until then everyone is going to feel like the system isn't right.
  10. by   AntonioErvin
    1st I want to compliment you on your strength to come out and discuss such a topic. I often tell people that the scariest thing I have ever done was become a parent. I have a teenage daughter and I made her sit down and watch 13 reasons why, to discuss this topic with her. Truly frightening, truth is as parents we simply can not be there all the time with them. It is a balance that we have to work to provide a decent lifestyle yet at the same time be cautious of their behavior. Social media plays an enormous part in the lives of teens, and in order to understand them we have to evade their privacy and ask tough questions. I commend you for stepping up and being there for your child.
  11. by   NursePoboy
    Don't judge me and my daughter cuz I'm too busy judging everybody else. Geesh what's wrong with you lady. Get over yourself, not everybody has to have this romanticized sappy calling to be a nurse. Some days it's just a job to me, some days it feels like a "calling". It's up to me to decide. And for god sake stop bringing food inside an ED room you should know better!
  12. by   RNrhythm
    Even though your article was clearly written to emphasize a point, I am sorry you did not receive/perceive the compassionate care you and your daughter needed. I have seen some amazing care given in MY emergency department because we have a psych unit and the ambulances know to come here. I also know that working in our ED is somehow both a sprint AND a marathon and I am always amazed by the quality of care I see when a patient transfers to my non-ED unit. (No ED or Psych for me. Those are not my strengths.)

    That being said, there are more than THREE MILLION working RNs in the US. Despite everyone's hopes and best intentions, not every encounter can be an ideal, compassionate, boutique experience. Contrary to any memes you may have seen, I DON'T have any superpowers. I am a human, on my feet, working as carefully and as fast as I can. If there is a non-abusive family member present to advocate for you, then I can step back a little. Hemodynamically stable? Not homeless? Then I don't have to be figuring out how to keep you alive moment by moment or find food/shelter for you. Maybe I can just do my job and take a breath for a moment while I strategize what I am going to do for ALL my patients.
  13. by   JKL33
    I'm sorry but your article is not written with the hope of effecting a change; your sarcastic assumptions are errant and unjust.

    I won't dignifiy it with further commentary except to say that when I, as an ED nurse, have the opportunity to care for someone such as your daughter, I make every last move with the intent of being therapeutic.
  14. by   wondern
    Well now we're all informed of the ER rules- so yay! Sorry for the nurse you got that night. She sounds like a real winner just like some the bullies on this thread.
    Last edit by dianah on Sep 24 : Reason: Terms of Service

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