Wednesday, August 06, 2008

If I Could Tell You

Dear Family of Patient X,

I will not say that I know how you feel, because I don't.
I will not say that everything will be fine, because it won't.
I cannot promise anything,
I cannot control the actions of others.

I come here to do my job, and take the best care possible of your loved one. Please let me do that.

I know the beeping and chirping of the the monitors, ventilators, and pumps is bothersome, but they are they for the patients safety...please don't take it upon yourself to silence them. They go off for a reason.

When I explain that I need to step out of the room to get a 2nd RN to check the blood that needs to be transfused, that is not the time to scold me for a missing blanket. Your loved one has a 103 degree fever and surrounded by ice packs, a blanket is contraindicated. I've made sure that they are covered, discretion and modesty of course.

I know it's hard to digest all that is going on with your loved one, but they really are getting fed. They can't eat through their mouth, they are on a ventilator and sedated. See that little tube in their nose, connected to that pump with the hanging bag of that creamy liquid? That's their food, I promise. Please don't berate the dietary worker who delivers food when she skips your room. It's not her choosing.

My age really isn't important. I am fully capable of taking care of your loved one. If anything, the fact that I am new(er) makes me pay even more attention to detail because I'm still "by-the book". But if it gives you a piece of mind, I have a BSN from an Ivy League school where I graduated Magna Cum Laude. All of my ICU credentials and certifications are adequate and up to date and because I know you are still wondering, Reagan was president when I was born.

Yes, we do take a lot of xrays. No, we aren't trying to give your loved one cancer. They have fluid in their lungs and we need to see if our methods to remove it are working.

I know it seems like I'm sitting at the computer a lot, but Im completing all my charting and documentation. There's a lot of information that needs to be charted hourly (175 items, actaully). I swear I'm not checking out YouTube,

Visiting hours are 11am-7pm. I have alredy bent the rules by allowing you to be here until 8pm, please stop begging and pleading with me to let you stay longer. You know that you can call at any time, give me the password, and I'll update you. Yes, I still have your home number, cell number, work number, beeper number on the whiteboard, in the patient's chart, and on the computer system . I know how to use a phone, I'll get in contact with you if anything happens.

Like I said before, I come here to do my job and provide the best possible care. Monitors will alarm, pumps will beep, xrays will be taken, charting will be done.....

But here are some things that you may not be aware of:
I treat all my patients the way I would want my loved on treated. I talk to my patients, letting them know what I'm doing and/or what will happen, even when they are unconscious. I gently bathe them and perform hygenic care. I comb their hair and clean in their ears. I cream and powder them up so they smell fresh and clean and then when it's all said and done, I take their hand in mine, give it a little squeeze and tell them, "I'll pulling for ya. Don't put those boxing gloves away, the fights not over yet." I place their hand back at their side and continue about my night.

So now, dear family, as I send you on your way, please know that I may not have the same relationship with the patient as you do, but that's okay. You are their past and future, but I'm in on their present. I'm here for them, just like you. So let's work together to get them through day, one minute, one breath at a time.


Nurse Kelly

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