No, actually I do not work with children. But if I told you my stories, you wouldn't believe me. I haven't even been a nurse that long, but every day I'm convinced we age backwards. Not in the humorous, old people wear diapers and take naps kind of way. I am completely serious. I have patients of a variety of ages, but all adults, but some days I can hardly believe my patients really are grown ups. I swear, I could write a book entitled "We Never Really Grow Up, Do We?"
As a preface, I would like to say that I really do enjoy nursing. I love my patients and my job. I could probably write another book about the stories of inspiration, endurance, survival, love, faith,and sometimes grief. But I do get frustrated, and this is the collection of frustrations that have happened over my career thus far. Please don't think I'm bitter or angry. I really do take good care of my patients, I just go home and want to vent about some things.
I'm posting this wondering what other nurses think, and I'm also always curious to hear stories.
Here are a few ways I've found.
1. Food. Any parent will tell you children + food often = argument. It's not all children, of course, and not all parents and not all food. Let's not get into an argument about that.
I don't know how many times I've had a conversation something like this.
"I don't like this/I ordered ---/ I wanted ---/ Can't I have another ---?"
I'm sorry. The food sucks. I don't make it. You're in the hospital. What do you expect? I'll fix what I can. I'll get you what I can. Sorry, I can't change whatever diet restrictions you have.
And here's the kicker-
"Well, I'm not eating, then."
How many of you have had argumentative young children who refuse to eat the food you put in front of them because you put it there? I usually try to find something they will eat, and if they refuse, I just take it and don't argue. If you can't have bacon with your breakfast, you're not eating any of it? You are an adult. I am not your parent. You managed to survive this far, so I can only assume you're capable of taking care of yourself.
2. Poop. WHAT IS IT ABOUT POOP?! Just yesterday, a dementia patient reached back, took it out of her bedpan, and smeared it everywhere she could reach. My 2 year old niece does the same thing. I seriously don't understand.
I've never had to deal with the anal-retention aspect of potty training children, but believe me when I tell you it doesn't end there. Patients of ALL ages with do the same thing. I just don't get it.
I had another patient a while ago who had PT, they helped him up to the toilet and back, and he was instructed he could do this instead of the bedpan. That's what he would do at home. The CNA and I were in the room when he asked for the bedpan, we offered to help him up. His face started to turn red. He was alert and oriented, and pooped himself intentionally. He turned to the CNA and told her that, "Now you have to clean me up". He'd rather mess himself than have to wipe his own butt. Again, you're a grown man, what did you do at home before you got sick?
3. This one is particularly men, but there's an aversion to clothing that comes with age. I do my best to maintain patients' modesty, keep all the right areas covered up, but I seem to have the most problem with men. They just like to pull the gown up and the covers down so every visitor walking past can see his business. Try to keep them covered all you want, turn around and he's naked again.
This is more of an older boy thing, not the toddler running naked in the yard thing, but men also seem to think very highly of their private parts. Yes, I've seen you naked. No, I'm not interested. Shocking, I know.
4. When patients refuse cares. How many times have you nurses had to truly convince a patient to do something like brush their teeth or take a bath? No, I won't let you get a bedsore sitting in your own excrement, or choke on the gunk that caked on your teeth because you screamed when the CNA tried to clean you. Sue me, but it's not happening on my watch.
5. The drama. This one is probably the truly irritating one to me. I can deal with dementia all day. I will leave work, sigh, and laugh it off. But some people just choose to be crazy, and they're the ones that get to me. The patient who will tell different nurses different things in an effort to create a rift. Patients who scream and cry as soon as a certain family member shows up, accusing you of all levels of insanity.
6. The more comical ones, mostly from my nursing home years. The conversations I'd have, dealing with dementia folks. I had so much fun, but I can't even explain how hilarious it can be. I feel like I worked at a preschool. Conversations like, "Mary, that stuffed animal isn't yours. You have to ask Arlene if you can play with it". Residents who get homesick and want their mom. Who have a meltdown if the routine changes. Who argue with each other about whose side of the room the TV is on. Who play with their food and make smiley faces with their peas and mashed potatoes.
So, that's the end of my stories thus far. I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of right now.
Now's your turn- what stories do you have? What did I miss? What wonderful things do I have to look forward to?
Thanks for reading!