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On Having 2 Titles: Nurse and Patient

Nurses Article   (18,843 Views 55 Replies 1,037 Words)
by ButterflyRN90 ButterflyRN90 (Member) Member

ButterflyRN90 has 5 years experience and specializes in Renal and Telemetry.

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What happens when you're both a patient and a nurse? As a diabetic, I wear two titles: LPN and diabetic. Although I am sad to have been diagnosed with this disease, especially at a young age, it is a blessing in disguise, as I now understand why I was "called" to nursing. To me it is not only a "calling", it is my life.

On Having 2 Titles: Nurse and Patient

It's early in the morning and I have to get ready for my clinical rotation. I look to my left and see my glucose monitor. The green orb that measures whether I am hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic stares me in the face, and like every morning, I pray quietly that it's neither because I'm so hungry. I only have 20 minutes to get dressed, brush my teeth, and eat before I must head out the door and face a full, stressful day.

As I run downstairs I try to determine if I want waffles with butter or mini muffins with a glass of milk. I choose the former, grabbing two, toasting them, and running out the door. It's still dark and my eyes have to adjust once more. I'm frustrated. My blood sugar is in the 80s, but I'm feeling weak and shaky. I know I shouldn't drive, but I cannot be late to my clinical.

Driving on the I-75 and then I-595 I start to feel dizzy while I stuff the two waffles down my gullet. I know that as a nurse I tell my patients to always correct their blood sugar before getting behind the wheel, yet here I am going 80mph while praying my blood sugar rises enough to stop the dizziness and shaking.

I arrive at the hospital and stumble out of my car. I call my best friend to alert the instructor to my late arrival because I just can't even stand. Realizing that I can't be late arriving on my floor, I run. I run past my former OB instructor without even managing a hello. I run down the stairs while trying to remember to recheck my blood sugar when I reach the floor.

After a grueling 5 minutes of racing past employees and waiting for the elevator, I arrive at the Pediatric ward. Out of breath, I walk to the Family Room where my fellow classmates are receiving their patient assignments. I feel exhausted and helpless. My best friend shoots me a look while mouthing, "Are you okay?" I nod and flop onto the couch while waiting for my assigned patient room number. The whole time my mind is racing. I'm tired of this disease and I realized I made many errors. If I can't stabilize myself, then I can't stabilize my patients.:no:

This is one of many events I go through whether it be during a clinical rotation, lecture, or even just lying down while watching a movie. Nurses. We are the worst patients. We know what can happen to our patients if they refuse to comply with their treatments. Funny thing is, as a nurse, I know better, yet I've sat behind the wheel with low blood sugars. I've sat behind with high blood sugars. I've had DKA 5x in my life and am in constant fear. I know better. Then why do I do the opposite?

It's the same phenomenon when a pulmonologist or nurse is caught smoking outside of the hospital, or an obese doctor advises a diet change to an obese or overweight patient. We sometimes feel it's our job to correct patients and assist in their health-related choices. It's our duty in the workforce to "save" our patients without noticing that at times we neglect our own care.

The hardest part of my job though is when I've been assigned a diabetic patient. Checking their blood sugar and injecting them, these tasks make me think back to my health choices in a negative light. Why am I not practicing what I preach? I mean, if it's as easy as I say it is, then why not try harder? This is a constant battle within my mind and soul. Choosing to be a nurse I have made an oath to practice beneficence and nonmaleficence. I promised to always put the patient first and to give competent and safe care.

As a child when I was diagnosed at the age of 7 I would cry. Growing up in a Christian household I'd ask God: "Why me? What now? How do I handle this?" It's been almost 18 years and I still ask those questions, just not at the same frequency.

I changed majors many times and never really understood why nursing seemed to "call" to me. I now know. God didn't give me this illness, but He allowed me to be both a patient and a nurse to allow me to advocate for my patient. I can tell my patient: "I understand." I am able to see the results of quality care and fight for improvements. I have an awareness that as a nurse, allows me to make a difference. The knowledge gained in nursing school, work, and through being a patient myself, gives me a boost. I don't feel alone in this.

The above experience, had I heard a patient describe it, would have created a discussion of sorts where the patient may feel judged. I know, I've been in those same shoes. I've been disciplined, yelled at, had my insulin pump revoked, and even fell into DKA. I learned my lessons, but I am far from perfect. Maybe that's why I feel like an integral part of the healthcare field. I attained empathy. I live with this illness and I teach, monitor, care for those who also have it. It's a love/hate relationship, being a patient and a nurse. It's also a learning experience.

I implore my fellow nurses, take care of yourselves first and foremost. It makes life a little easier. It makes teaching the same care to patients more effectively. It gives you a sense of pride, and ultimately, you can't care for your patient(s) effectively if you yourself are in poor health. Stress, illness, and out-of-work circumstances affect your behavior, care, and attitude. Being a patient who is also a nurse gave me two different perspectives that have melded into one. I am glad I was called to nursing while fighting this disease. It wasn't only my calling, it's my life. :nurse:

1 Article; 8,140 Profile Views; 534 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; 197,277 Profile Views

Thank you for sharing your inspiring personal story and for using your struggles with a chronic disease to be a better advocate for your patients.

Take care of yourself!

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1 Article; 1,068 Posts; 24,738 Profile Views

Great article! :yes: Thank you for sharing your experiences and take care of yourself!

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macawake has 10 years experience.

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As I run downstairs I try to determine if I want waffles with butter or mini muffins with a glass of milk. I choose the former, grabbing two, toasting them, and running out the door. It's still dark and my eyes have to adjust once more. I'm frustrated. My blood sugar is in the 80s, but I'm feeling weak and shaky. I know I shouldn't drive, but I cannot be late to my clinical.

Driving on the I-75 and then I-595 I start to feel dizzy while I stuff the two waffles down my gullet. I know that as a nurse I tell my patients to always correct their blood sugar before getting behind the wheel, yet here I am going 80mph while praying my blood sugar rises enough to stop the dizziness and shaking.

I arrive at the hospital and stumble out of my car. I call my best friend to alert the instructor to my late arrival because I just can't even stand.

This will probably come out as judgmental. I think it needs to be said though. You need to stop driving when you're in no condition to do so. You're scaring me.

As former law enforcement who's been on the scene of too many accidents and a nurse who has worked in the ER it actually upsets me that you do this. Do you understand the havoc you can wreak doing 80 mph?

Get up twenty or thirty minutes earlier in the morning so you have enough time to eat before you get behind the wheel. I wouldn't sugarcoat my message with a patient and I won't sugarcoat it with you either. You are gambling with both your own life and the life of others.

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ButterflyRN90 has 5 years experience and specializes in Renal and Telemetry.

1 Article; 534 Posts; 8,140 Profile Views

This will probably come out as judgmental. I think it needs to be said though. You need to stop driving when you're in no condition to do so. You're scaring me.

As former law enforcement who's been on the scene of too many accidents and a nurse who has worked in the ER it actually upsets me that you do this. Do you understand the havoc you can wreak doing 80 mph?

Get up twenty or thirty minutes earlier in the morning so you have enough time to eat before you get behind the wheel. I wouldn't sugarcoat my message with a patient and I won't sugarcoat it with you either. You are gambling with both your own life and the life of others.

Sadly, you just sounded like the Peds instructor, who, had I continued the story, commented the same thing. Unless you are a diabetic, you don't personally understand how quickly a normal blood sugar can drop. I had it recently happen that it was 84 and driving to get something fast to eat, ended up dropping to 68 just sitting at the drive thru line. Had to eat quickly in the parking lot. Yes, I know I should correct it and I had two waffles, thing is it takes longer for carbs to kick in than it does a simple sugar.

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87 Posts; 4,396 Profile Views

As someone who is a Type II Diabetic I empathize with your situation. I think sometimes that those who don't understand are those who have never had to deal with an unknown chronic condition like diabetes. It's a hassle to not know what your body is going to do that day. It's frustrating that you want to push through and your body betrays you without any previous notice. I completely feel for you.

As far as being a student - I understand what that's like to feel the pressure to be on time and to put yourself last when you're trying to learn to take care of others.

I really do hope you have better days ahead :)

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OCNRN63 is a RN and specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

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This will probably come out as judgmental. I think it needs to be said though. You need to stop driving when you're in no condition to do so. You're scaring me.

As former law enforcement who's been on the scene of too many accidents and a nurse who has worked in the ER it actually upsets me that you do this. Do you understand the havoc you can wreak doing 80 mph?

Get up twenty or thirty minutes earlier in the morning so you have enough time to eat before you get behind the wheel. I wouldn't sugarcoat my message with a patient and I won't sugarcoat it with you either. You are gambling with both your own life and the life of others.

I stopped driving when peripheral neuropathy from chemo made my feet and hands too numb to drive safely. I've even lost a good degree of proprioception, so finding the brake in an emergency would be difficult for me.

I sympathize with the OP, but not to the extent that her desire to be a nurse puts other peoples' lives in danger. Think of how you'd feel if you harmed or killed someone driving while you were dizzy. To me it's no different than driving impaired.

See if there's someone you can carpool with if you can't drive. Get up earlier so you have time to eat properly, rather than guzzling down your food. If nursing is what you want, you're going to have to make some lifestyle changes so you don't harm others.

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OCNRN63 is a RN and specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

5,978 Posts; 54,045 Profile Views

Sadly, you just sounded like the Peds instructor, who, had I continued the story, commented the same thing. Unless you are a diabetic, you don't personally understand how quickly a normal blood sugar can drop. I had it recently happen that it was 84 and driving to get something fast to eat, ended up dropping to 68 just sitting at the drive thru line. Had to eat quickly in the parking lot. Yes, I know I should correct it and I had two waffles, thing is it takes longer for carbs to kick in than it does a simple sugar.

Your instructor was wise. You shouldn't have even been caring for patients if your glucose was making you that altered.

 

Someone who is diabetic should know better than to only allow herself 20 minutes to get dressed, brush teeth, then eat something. You don't need to be a diabetic to know that's a very unhealthy way to start your day.

 

Lest you think I don't know what I'm talking about, I gave up my nursing career because the effects of my cancer treatment left me unsafe to care for patients. It was a painful decision, one that haunts me almost every day. But I would rather be the one dealing with it than cause irreparable harm to a patient.

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I stopped driving when peripheral neuropathy from chemo made my feet and hands too numb to drive safely. I've even lost a good degree of proprioception, so finding the brake in an emergency would be difficult for me.

I sympathize with the OP, but not to the extent that her desire to be a nurse puts other peoples' lives in danger. Think of how you'd feel if you harmed or killed someone driving while you were dizzy. To me it's no different than driving impaired.

See if there's someone you can carpool with if you can't drive. Get up earlier so you have time to eat properly, rather than guzzling down your food. If nursing is what you want, you're going to have to make some lifestyle changes so you don't harm others.

That is because the OP WAS driving impaired.

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ButterflyRN90 has 5 years experience and specializes in Renal and Telemetry.

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Honestly, if you have nothing positive to say whatsoever, then please refrain from even commenting. I wrote this article to share my experiences without judgement. For the one poster who said my instructor was correct, you don't know the whole story so you are basing your opinion on one sentence. I still cared for my patients successfully. Being diabetic does not warrant me to not care for patients. Hypoglycemia is a temporary problem with a simple solution that was occurring. Instead of focusing on the speed I was driving or whether YOU believe 20 minutes to get ready is unhealthy(?), focus on the major picture: advocating for my patients and how I was able to use my life experiences to improve my skills as a nurse.

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ButterflyRN90 has 5 years experience and specializes in Renal and Telemetry.

1 Article; 534 Posts; 8,140 Profile Views

Your instructor was wise. You shouldn't have even been caring for patients if your glucose was making you that altered.

 

Someone who is diabetic should know better than to only allow herself 20 minutes to get dressed, brush teeth, then eat something. You don't need to be a diabetic to know that's a very unhealthy way to start your day.

 

Lest you think I don't know what I'm talking about, I gave up my nursing career because the effects of my cancer treatment left me unsafe to care for patients. It was a painful decision, one that haunts me almost every day. But I would rather be the one dealing with it than cause irreparable harm to a patient.

Oh and for the record, the instructor is the most incompetent person. Instead of telling me or asking me, she proceeded to talk behind my back that if she was me, she'd wake up at 4am and eat to prevent a low blood sugar. I had to find out from another student that she was talking about how dumb I was for waking up at 5:30am and having a low. Diabetes will never stop me from my dream and calling. Also, I wouldn't drive if I was at a blood sugar of below 70. I've had this for 18 years, I think I'm capable of knowing when it's dangerous to drive. I was at a normal level but as another poster pointed out, sometimes you don't know what your body is going to do next.

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LadyFree28 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma.

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Honestly, if you have nothing positive to say whatsoever, then please refrain from even commenting. I wrote this article to share my experiences without judgement. For the one poster who said my instructor was correct, you don't know the whole story so you are basing your opinion on one sentence. I still cared for my patients successfully. Being diabetic does not warrant me to not care for patients. Hypoglycemia is a temporary problem with a simple solution that was occurring. Instead of focusing on the speed I was driving or whether YOU believe 20 minutes to get ready is unhealthy(?), focus on the major picture: advocating for my patients and how I was able to use my life experiences to improve my skills as a nurse.

That's the beauty of the Internet...nurses concerned looks like a "lecture"; even though there's no tone.

The fact remains, as you pointed out in your article; a healthy nurse is a better nurse.

Best wishes in balancing your health issues and your studies.

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