There is a lot of good in the world, we just have to stop and open our eyes to see it. I think we spend so much time looking at the negatives and the big things these days to truly notice the beauty that is there right in front of us.
As a nurse I see all sorts of things, and I have all sorts of experiences with people. We get people coming through who are at all sorts of stages of their lives. The young, the old, the sick, the broken, troubled, misunderstood, under-appreciated, and the ones that are just exhausted and run down… And, to each of those people, I (along with my colleagues) am the new support, a temporary back bone to do the things they can’t do until they are well enough or able enough to get back to their lives. This is the part we all forget while we complain about getting a pan every 30mins, or fetching a tissue box, or redirecting a call, but to them it might be something as simple as letting someone else do it for a short while.
I know I am guilty of complaining in the middle of the night that I had to pass a tissue, or get 12 pans for a patient in one night, clean up bodily fluids or be run off my feet for hours on end because I received several post-op patients in quick succession. And, sure there are times when we can be more organised, when we know there are patients heading in from theatre and we can get equipment ready and be prepared, but in the end these aren’t the experiences we remember, that leave a lasting impact. What truly leaves a lasting impact are the quality moments we get during one on one care, the personal interactions, the one part of the job that keeps us coming back even after what feels like the worst shift we’re ever going to have (and usually we can always top it).
Among these challenging times we occasionally get the opportunity to stop and sit with someone and have a meaningful conversation, allow the patient to talk about what’s on their minds, and sometimes it might not even be about the reason they are in hospital. I had a conversation with a palliative patient just recently about how she was feeling in her current situation, it’s amazing to see how well adjusted people become at the end. She had accepted everything, she knew it was nearly time and to some degree when she talked about it I could see a sense of relief in her eyes, as I sat there and talked to her about it I realised there’s an aspect to this job we don’t get to fulfill very often and that’s the personal aspect, the time to just sit and talk about how they feel and maybe even explain what they should expect, and answer questions. Or simply just be a distraction.
I love my job, I remember the first prac I went to and I remember thinking I couldn’t believe people got paid to do this job, it just seemed so much more rewarding than it was given credit for. However now I am working, I do appreciate that I get paid for it, sometimes it is stressful, and sometimes it’s emotionally and physically draining, but at the same time there is a kind of balance to it all. As we are running around the ward, skipping lunch, putting up new fluids, setting up an automatic blood pressure monitor to automatically take measures, racing through medication rounds and frantically trying to get through paperwork before the end of the shift, or even staying back 30mins to finalise everything, there are 8-10 people in beds counting on us.
It has recently been brought to my attention that there is an intricate balance to nursing, while we complain and whinge about the workload, we also have some really lovely and beautiful, rewarding moments. The way I see it nurse/patient relationships are give and take, when we’re giving the patient is taking, and when they are well again they give us so much more in return. We are merely doing our job, as I so often tell my patients, but it is so rewarding to hear their appreciation, and that they noticed the little things we go out of our way to do, or even things we didn’t realise we were doing. Mostly I guess we get a selfish reward to see how our actions helped their recovery. Although there are times when our actions aren’t as effective, and no matter what we do we can’t get the result we want, and in those circumstances our next best action is simply to make them comfortable.
At the end of the day it’s the person touches we take. This isn’t just relative to nursing, but I think this is something we can all work on, recognising and appreciating the little things, I think we get too caught up with looking forward to what’s coming next and we forget to enjoy the moment, until one day we’ll stop and wonder where all the time went. We’re all so busy I think we’ve forgotten about what’s important.