I have spent most of my adult life, and all of my childhood, thinking that nurses were somehow, someway, good people, just because they had chosen to be nurse. I have had that opinion, despite evidence to the contrary, for so long that it is like one of my toes, or the phone number to my childhood home. I have explained the lazy nurse as tired, the sharp nurse as stressed, the uncompassionate as inexperienced. Today, I have changed my mind. My current unit has finnally made me wake up and smell the vomit. There are nurses who lie about having given meds. There are nurses who chart things that they never did. There are nurses who leave patients to lie in shit, gargle vomit, and moan in pain. There are nurses who belittle coworkers, mock physicians, and overall game the system to a breathtaking degree. It makes me weep, only I’m so damn angry that I’m tachycardic and hypertensive, and so it’s that mad sad crazy kind of weeping that I never want my children to see.
Then there are nurses who buy lunch for hungry family members, wipe butts with tenderness, discover and correct med errors with grace, finness, and tact. There are nurses with the skill to see the small changes in a patient that are the road to doom, and make sure somebody elses sees thos things, too, and writes some damn orders to prevent said road trip.There are nurses that change beds compulsively, bring in toys for little patients, and sit by you and hold your hand when there are not enough drugs in the world to take away your pain. There are nurses who sit by people who do not speak the same language, handing over one tissue after another, only because they can see that person is crying and they want to let them know that you are not alone. There are nurses who will close your dead eyes with tenderness, wash your cold body, and hold onto your mother or wife when they see you like this. There are nurse who will scream for the team and ambu bag the breath back into you, shock your heart into a decent rhythm, and all but stuff your soul back into your body if they think that you are not done here on this earth.
My only problem is that both kinds of nurses seem to live on the same planet, work in the same units, and get the same pay.