Why I don't tell my family...Register Today!
- by umcRN Nov 22, '11Ugh! Sometimes it gets to me how wonderfully naive most people are to what goes on in the hospital. Thankfully, I suppose, my family is "medically naive". While my mother suffers from two chronic, progressively debilitating diseases, my family has otherwise no experience with the hospital, and especially ICU world. And while this is a good thing, they get upset when I don't feel like telling them everything that goes on at work, because there is no way they could ever GET it.
This conversation, for instance happened between my dad and I at dinner tonight (I recently transferred from being a NICU RN to a peds CICU rn):
Dad: so whats the biggest difference in taking care of a 6 year old vs a newborn?
Me: (thinking to myself...seriously?? there's A LOT) Well sedation is a bigger issue, they're a lot harder to keep in their beds
Dad: Well, don't they have an IV where you can just give them meds? I mean, you're not going at them with needles or anything, they should already have an IV right?
Me: Yes, they usually already have an IV...or 6, but it takes more people, I have the hold the kid down in the bed while two other nurses go to the pyxis to pull out the meds and draw them up for me
Dad: (very obviously trying to picture this situation) Well, why is the kid trying to get out of their bed...they already have the IV (he things the only reason kids would want out is if i'm trying to stick them)...and he can't be THAT strong (HA!)
Me: Well he's confused, scared, in pain, has more wires/tubes/drains you name it attached to his body, he's on a breathing machine and that's bugging the heck out of him and he's disoriented from the meds I gave him 10 minutes ago which obviously didn't hold
Dad: Well if he's so awake why don't you just let him wake up and take him off the breathing maching?
Me: You would think...
Dad: and why don't the meds sedate him enough? Can't you just keep giving more?
Me: Well, you know how drug addicts and alcoholics build up tolerance to whatever their addicted to?
Me: Well, while I just gave this 20kg 6 year old enough drugs to knock YOU out for a day or two, he has built up a tolerance to them and they are essentially having the same effect as a cheap OTC cold medicine.
Dad: Well, then let him wake up
We also managed to tip-toe around the whole overuse of blood products that happens in the hospital (aka pumping blood into a dead body), didn't get too into it because my dad is VERY religious (God will call all time of deaths) and he also mentioned something along the lines of "thats why they pay the docs the big bucks, not the nurses, to call it"
Ugh! I know it's silly to get annoyed over this stuff but sometimes I wish people could shadow me for a day and see what I REALLY do
- Nov 22, '11 by traumaRUsYou'll never convince normal lay people what happens. You kinda learn to compartmentalize things.
My husband who is an absolute wonder is a very well-respected high school teacher.
He has no idea what I do at my job.
- I SO get what you're saying! My family will listen very intently and then ask a question that shows they really didn't understand what I was saying at all. The moral issues we deal with daily would make them all crawl into a corner somewhere and suck their thumbs... once they got over the bluster of what they'd do if they were one of us. I took my mom on a tour of my unit one time. It really opened her eyes. Now she just does a lot of tsk-ing.
It's amazing that people underestimate kids' strength too.
- Nov 22, '11 by traumaRUsJan - I'm so very happy you commented on this thread.
To the OP: Jan gave a very moving and insightful speech at the 2011 NTI (National Training Institute) for critical care nurses. You can find it on her blog and goes into this frustration for caregivers.
- You're making me blush...
- Nov 22, '11 by umcRNThank you both for your great replies! I know I'm not the only one and it does get frustrating! I know there are numerous youtube videos out there of kids in ICU's too but for some reason I can't bring myself to show them to my fam. It's frustrating that they don't get it but at the same time I think if they knew they'd be so horrified by what goes on every day...there are enough things that horrify me from time to time and I work with it every day! (or three days a week haha).
I walked my dad through the NICU once when I was brand new, fresh off orientation. I was slightly embarrased to have him there and terrified of hippa/security and everything else so I pretty much ran him through our 56 bed private room unit, he didn't see much. He was most impressed by one room we ran by where a mom was holding her AA infant with QUITE the afro, being of northern european decent ourselves he has only known bald babies and he was astounded by the kids hair :smackingf
I couldn't even imagine walking him through the CICU...I briefly tried to explain ECMO to him, and then rapid deploy wooosh! right over his head!
I think he also has a hard time knowing that his "little girl" deals daily with the death and suffering of other peoples little girls and boys. So part of me tries to protect them too...
- There have been times when I've pulled up Google images to demonstrate a point. My mom was very curious when I joined the ECMO team so I showed her some colour photos of infants with cannulae sprouting from their open sternums. (She wanted to be able to explain what I do to her friends.) Later I showed her photos of some of our patients with Berlin hearts that are readily available on the web. She gets a lot of it now (after 17+ years!) but my dad isn't even curious. My two sisters have some comprehension, but they'd rather not know and neither does my brother. One of my offspring doesn't want to hear anything about my work because she says it makes me grouchy and whiny. Other relatives don't even know where I work much less have a clue what I do. Thank God I have friends who know what I'm talking about.
- Nov 23, '11 by umcRN17 years! I can't imagine!
Grouchy and whiney!? Ugh! I'm sorry!
I used to tell my roommate about my days at work but have long since stopped, and I have to bite my tongue, hard, every time she comes home and complains about her difficult day of sitting at her desk, the two hour lunch her boss took her office out to and yadda yada yadda. It takes all my strength to not scream at her "Well at least no one DIED at your office today!"
Yes, thank god for fellow nurses & friends
- Nov 23, '11 by umcRNQuote from janfrnhahaha after my first shift with a 450g preemie on triple bili lights (no real way to tie her down with those things) I never underestimate ANY patients strength regardless of their size. They are tough little fighters and if g-dammit they want that tube out they WILL find a way
It's amazing that people underestimate kids' strength too.