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How Do You Do It?

Nurses Article   (3,228 Views 4 Replies 738 Words)
by SnowyJ SnowyJ, RN (Member) Member Nurse

SnowyJ has 28 years experience as a RN .

1 Article; 7,731 Profile Views; 844 Posts

After 30 years of nursing, on this beginning of "Nurse's Week," I can't help but reflect on my varied clinical past. I share these thoughts with you because I want you to know it is never too late to reinvent yourself. Four years ago, I made a big change from hospital bedside nursing to being an elementary school nurse. This article is simply some thoughts I share after reflecting on the statement I hear often from staff and teachers. "I don't know HOW you do it!"

How Do You Do It?

"I don't know how you do it..."

I hear this phrase from co-workers multiple times each week at school. Usually in the midst of a child vomiting, a laceration to tend to or when a child with a high fever/flu like symptoms is under my care.

I want to tell them it's easy...How do I explain it? I don't want to sound glib. But putting it in perspective:

When you are a student nurse on the Oncology unit and the patient you have cared for all day asks if you can stay for a difficult procedure. You hold his hand, and he squeezes it so hard it hurts, but it doesn't matter. This is it...This is your calling. You have found it.

When you have spent 3 hours in an 85 degree room, suited up like you are going to the moon...Scraping burned skin off the majority of the devastated body of your unconscious, sedated, vented patient. And you aren't sure if those are tears or sweat gliding down your face. Maybe both.

When the 17 year old made a snap decision to turn his car into the path of a front loader, and the horrific crash resulted in him literally losing half of his head, frank brain matter visible..Only brain stem functioning, on a vent. You wrap towels around his head in a desperate attempt to hide the carnage from his mother, who enters the room and collapses on his bed, sobbing. Then the Senior Resident asks if you have broached the subject of organ donation.

When it's Christmas Eve and you beg your patient who is an accident victim to "just hang on, please don't die on Christmas." And you don't really know why it is so important, but it is. And nobody can locate his family because he is from out of state with no contact info in his wallet. And he does die on Christmas, despite everyone's best efforts. But at least he wasn't alone.

When it's the mid 80's, and you have to watch the 24 week gestation baby breathe its last breath after being born, while the Obstetrician cries right along with the parents, helpless. (The idea of saving a micro preemie back then was implausible.)

When you resuscitate a baby that had turned blue, and your see the panic in your co-worker's faces and know you are feeling the same things at the same moment as you work in tandem to see the pink color return, and the joyous sounds of a CRY thereafter. (The baby too...Haha!)

When you witness the worst post partum hemorrhage you could ever imagine. And you feel nauseous and dizzy because of the sheer volume of blood..Everywhere. And it could go either way, but the patient makes it through. And even she has no true awareness that her life hung in the balance for that time.

When your long term "strict bedrest" patient who had lost multiple pregnancies before, is now 28 weeks gestation, goes into labor at 3AM and you see the look of visceral fear in her eyes as you try to calmly reassure her while you whisk her off to delivery.

When you have spent 25 years on the night shift, SURE that you are a hardcore insomniac, and decide it may be time for a change. Because your body and mind just can't do it anymore.

When you DO make that change, and walk out of the hospital for the last time with a lump in your throat thinking "oh what have I done?" Because it is all you have ever known. But you take that leap of faith and do something completely different. Because it is time.

When you realize one day that you have never felt as appreciated as you do working with children. And there are times you miss the "old" days, but you feel you have found the place where you truly belong. Oh, and you are NOT an insomniac after all!

And though the adrenaline rush of those "old" days has long since passed, you still feel great pride in what you do. And you get paid in hugs, lucky pennies, crayon drawings and dandelions picked from the playground...

That is how I do it.

Registered Nurse with background in various specialty areas including Burn/Trauma ICU, Obstetrics, Med/Surg and most recently, School Nursing.

1 Article; 7,731 Profile Views; 844 Posts

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tnbutterfly - Mary is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

13 Followers; 122 Articles; 5,456 Posts; 197,299 Profile Views

What a wonderful article that describes some of the many faces of nursing and the things nurses face every day. We see lots of things, that when looking back, we even sometimes question how we got through some of those days.

I'm glad you still have great pride in what you do and that you are now smiling more as you share those hugs and moments with those precious children.

Happy Nurses Week and Happy School Nurse Day!!!

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131 Posts; 3,469 Profile Views

Great article. Yes, as I read the article I remembered working in the Emergency Room and seeing the things you are writing about. I am now a College Health Nurse and like you have wondered did I make the right choice in switching. I will have to admit, yes I made the right choice.

Happy Nurses Week to all Nurses.

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Farawyn has 25 years experience and specializes in A little bit of everything..

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Love you, GF. Great article. Thank you.

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SnowyJ has 28 years experience as a RN.

1 Article; 844 Posts; 7,731 Profile Views

Thanks so much! It's just funny how often I hear that....I started to reflect on the many years as a nurse and just wanted to put it into words.

Making a big change was scary. But if you are thinking about it, it's never too late!

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