When others ask what you do...

  1. 0 I have been a pediatric nurse for 5 years. I started in a pediatric hospital doing inpatient neurology/neurosurgery and I currently do home health intermittent visits, primarily for patients with cancer. I've been doing it for so long that I barely remember that it's not normal for kids to have cancer or for them to be G-tube dependent, etc. I've had a few situations this year where I've been asked about my job and then when I describe the patients that I care for (many of whom die or are permanently neurologically devastated), the other person is completely dumbfounded and has this look of horror on their face. Like today, for example, I was out with this guy who was asking me about my patients and I started talking about this little baby (1 month old) who developed hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy after prolonged shoulder dystocia and was without a heart beat for the 1st 18 minutes of her life. I was seeing for G/J tube teaching. This is apparently terrifying to your average person. I think I am completely jaded. Anyone else?
  2. Visit  KelRN215 profile page

    About KelRN215, BSN, RN

    KelRN215 has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Pedi/Onc, Home Health, Case Management'. From 'New England'; 31 Years Old; Joined Oct '10; Posts: 5,497; Likes: 10,665.

    12 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  Sun0408 profile page
    0
    I am right there with you. I work trauma ICU so I see and deal with all the traumatic injured. The 16 year old MI from drug overdose that is now brain dead, the self inflicted CSW to the head or chest,the drunk driver victims. Just a few examples. Many of my non nursing friends are horrified by the stories, so I try to keep my answers now brief lol... My hubby just loves going out to dinner with my nursing buddies Talk about a nice dinner conversation LOL !!!
  4. Visit  Sun0408 profile page
    1
    My hat is off to you, I would not be able to deal with the kiddo's. Just a child in pain can bring tears to my eyes. I'm sure you are a godsend to the parents and their lil ones
    anon456 likes this.
  5. Visit  umcRN profile page
    0
    hmm I would have to say we are all jaded.
    Last week I was taking care of my units miracle baby...one of the few I would truly call a miracle. He survived heart surgeries, two times on ecmo and multiple other procedures. He is 13 months old (was hospitalized from 6mos-12mos), he was in for a short visit post a trach change (he had a very special trach). Despite his trach, gtube and medical history he is probably one of the most appropriate 13 mo olds my unit has seen. I was playing with him, throwing him up in the air, parading him around in the wagon. Well the student I had with me seemed absolutely terrified of him! I had to do my other patients assessment and this one would bust out the crocodile tears any time he was left alone so I sent her in there to play with him while I was away and she basically just stood there and looked at him. We forget that most people are not used to these types of patients. To me he was like a day long, fun, babysitting shift but anyone outside our world would not see that.

    I work NICU/Peds CICU and when people outside my nursing friends ask me what I do I don't get into much detail. They can't understand and most don't want to know about the world we live in where children suffer and die.
  6. Visit  EricJRN profile page
    2
    Yep - most people don't really want to know the details.

    "So you work in the happy place with all the babies?"
    "Uh huh, sure. That's me."
    wooh and KelRN215 like this.
  7. Visit  anon456 profile page
    0
    Yes, and it's hard to come home and not be able to talk about work with my husband or friends. They can tell me what a bad day they had because of a manager or a project or something, but I can't tell them about my tough day of a total care kid with diarrhea, a difficult parent, or a kid with neuro storming that I was not able to help beyond sedation and cooling blankets. It's horrifying to them. I have to debrief by talking to nurse friends on the way home and they do the same with me. Everyone says, "How nice to be a peds nurse, it must be so rewarding!" Well yes, but in the ways I imagined it would be that's for sure.
  8. Visit  wooh profile page
    0
    They don't want to hear the details. What do I do? "I torture children for a living!haha!" And move on. Even adult healthcare providers don't get it. They can find the dark humor in adult tragedy, but most will wince at what these kids go through.
    The details are what coworkers and allnurses are for.
  9. Visit  smurfynursey profile page
    2
    I work at a pediatric hospice and when I say that is my specialty, and moreover than that that I really truly enjoy my job I get horrible looks.
    KelRN215 and wooh like this.
  10. Visit  Soliloquy profile page
    1
    It's because the image is that children are innocent and the idea that these things happen, especially to the young, is too much, too graphic, and too "real". You're use to it, you have the stomach and the heart for it, but not everyone does.
    wooh likes this.
  11. Visit  canned_bread profile page
    0
    Very interesting topic. My mum picked me up after work last week, and there was a parent I was speaking to out the front who's child has relapsed ALL. The child had had chemo that day and was holding a V-bag and laying like a starfish on the ground out the front. She had no energy, low haemoglobin, I thought nothing of it. My mum was shocked and I had to explain that a round of chemo means the kid was just whacked, no energy, and just wanted to feel the rays of sunshine on her thin body. It made me realise I had become "used" to seeing children like this. However, if I see a sick child at a shopping centre it does feel out of place. That being said, my emotions, empathy, sympathy, and love are not gone. I just can't be affected and think "that poor child" every day for 8 hours or I would become an emotional wreck and be unable to do my job.
  12. Visit  ~PedsRN~ profile page
    1
    I work in a large children's hospital on the trauma/ortho/surgical floor.... we are also the Cystic Fibrosis floor as well. (Honestly, we do it all. LOL)

    I get a lot of "How can you do this? How can you work with all this sadness every day? It's so tragic!!" While there are definitely children that I take care of who affect me in different ways that I carry around in my heart, I have the opportunity to work on a floor where these kids GET BETTER for the most part. Do I take care of some terminal kids? Yes. But I also take care of those really sick kids that GET BETTER. And that's truly the awesome part of my job. Which is what I tell people when they ask me "HOW CAN YOU DO THIS?!" with that horrified look on their face. I do it because I love it.... there is nothing like watching a kid get better and go home!
    Sun0408 likes this.
  13. Visit  hiddencatRN profile page
    1
    Quote from wooh
    They don't want to hear the details. What do I do? "I torture children for a living!haha!" And move on. Even adult healthcare providers don't get it. They can find the dark humor in adult tragedy, but most will wince at what these kids go through.
    The details are what coworkers and allnurses are for.
    Yeah, I get sick of people saying "oh it must be so hard to see sick children in pain all the time" so I've started just shrugging my shoulders and saying something along the lines of "nah, I love it."

    Peds nursing is not for sissies. I have a job in an all ages ER now because it's closer to home and I thought I wanted adult experience and if I have to cath one more cavernous, dischargy old lady, I think I just might die. I brought a baby out to the nurses station to catch up on charting while the mom was still in the waiting room and all the other nurses looked at me like I was crazy and I was just all "don't mind us."
    KelRN215 likes this.
  14. Visit  umcRN profile page
    0
    This past week has been very, very hard for me. A primary patient of mine passed away very suddenly, from a cause no one saw coming. He had been on our unit 2 months but that was short considering the prior 16 months he had spent in three other hospitals. Never once making it home. This was the hospital he was supposed to go home from. On the same day that he died it was the 2nd birthday of my last primary patient who had died (as a baby, it took a long time for me to agree to being a primary again). Emotionally it has been an exhausting week. Couple that with the extreme acuity and high stress of my unit at the moment (daily ECMO cannulations, codes, open heart OR's etc) and we are all exhausted.

    Last night I received a text message though from the mother of my previous primary, the one who would have been two this week. She is having another baby. Hearing that made this week better for me. Knowing that this family, who went through so much and suffered so much, has finally gotten to a place where they can have another child makes me happy, and gives me hope for the family of the little boy I laid in the morgue on Wednesday, that one day they too will be able to heal.

    Sometimes this job s*cks! And it's hard and emotionally draining. But I wouldn't work anywhere else.


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