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I stood in the doorway and watched my 15 y.o. behavioral psych. patient. She sat cross legged on the stretcher, hands tightly clenched in her lap, head down and eyes closed…rocking back and forth. A loud,continuous hum escaped through her throat…not a song kind of hum…but a static sound of humming.
She came to us after being kicked out of her foster home for aggressive behavior and suicidal language and she now is boarding with us until a new home or psych hospital bed opens up for her. Because of her suicidal language all of her belongings were removed from her and she was in our blue hospital scrubs, on a watch with security and in the behavioral health section. The areas is small, has a TV, a bathroom and small area to walk around—no windows.
Hour 90 was upon us and she was melting down. As I watched her, my heart broke. This child was alone—her life story is of abuse and neglect—and now once again she is alone…Life isn’t fair for this child!
Earlier that day I silently prayed for her and I sat and talked with her. She liked to write and to draw, listen to music and take long walks. Her two siblings were with another foster family and she hadn’t seen them in over 6 months…and there were no relatives to help them out. She was afraid of where she would end up and wanted to run away. Her suicidal thoughts continued and she wanted to cut herself. Read more…
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The passage above talks about a time of uncertainty where wisdom and foolishness both were so clearly in front of the people that there was tremendous despair as well as unbridled hope in the air.
Today the same is true in healthcare, especially in nursing. It is the best of times in nursing and it is the worst of times in nursing. Never in the past has there been so many nurses with advanced degrees serving in various important leadership roles. However, never in the past has nursing care been so stressful and constrained.
Nurses constantly witness the well-being of their patients sacrificed for corporate good. We continue to face poor work conditions unable to provide enough attention to each patient. This makes it impossible to provide the compassionate, competent and safe care our patients deserve, not to mention the toll it takes on our own health and well-being.
But, we constantly have to weigh in the consequence of speaking up for safe and compassionate patient care. If we speak up we face retaliation and persecution to the extent of becoming so overwhelmed and disheartened that we lose our desire to go on. Read more…
She kept calling out repeatedly for help, with a loud, shrill, shaky voice. “HELP, HELP, HELP, HELP….” I could not comfort her or reassure her that she was okay, nor could I get her to stop yelling for help. The staff was getting weary and the other patients thought we were killing her…that fragile little 98 year old women with dementia in room 8.
She came to our ER from a nursing home with the complaint of, “she won’t stop yelling for help and this is not her normal behavior.” We worked her up for altered mental status—and none of the tests revealed a reason for her behavior change.
I tried everything to calm her; I dimmed the lights, I sat and held her hand, I turned the TV on and then off, I repositioned her repeatedly and called her
daughter (who was in Florida). The morning rolled on and she kept yelling. The ER traffic flow subsided somewhat and an opportunity arose for me to have 15 uninterrupted moments with this woman. I turned off the lights, closed the door, turned on some music and performed Reiki on her. I started from her head and went to her feet. At first she didn’t appear to even realize I was there, let alone gently laying my hands on her head. After approx. 2min she stopped yelling. I continued.
The room was silent except for the soft music.I watched the monitor—her pulse went from 112 to 88, her blood pressure went from 160/98 to 142/80 and her respirations went from 32 to 18. Read more…
Picture this: A nurse goes to an integrative medicine doctor for chronic fatigue, body pains especially eyes and face and failing eye sight. The doctor runs a battery of tests, way more than a regular doctor would to find out what is wrong.
Doctor, “Your blood results show a lot of inflammation going on in your body. Your markers for heart disease are very high. You are also showing signs of severe adrenal fatigue.You are pretty young. Whats going on?” The nurse replies,” Hmm… I am not sure. My job is pretty stressful. I am on call all the time and I have two teenagers.”
This is a true story, my true story!
I was working for a hospice at that time. I was stressed out not because of the type of patients I took care of—I find it to be my calling to help improve well-being and quality of life for people with serious illness and their loved ones. My clients were never an issue. So what was the problem?
Here’s the rest of the story:
You are with a 49 year old patient who is newly diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has been given only a few weeks to live. He has a wife who works from home, two grandkids living with him. He also has a mother who is visiting. His grown kids, especially the daughter, are devastated by the news of their father’s illness.
The wife says, ” I can not see him suffer like this. He can not breathe, he can not eat. Read more…
Standing in the middle of the nurse’s station, I faxed a chart to Spring Harbor for our psych patient in room 11 and I watched the patient in room 3. Her twisted body was lying on the stretcher in a semi-sitting position. She was covered in a blanket and her feet were hanging out, uncovered. I chuckled to myself because that is how I lay as well—I hate my feet covered! She was talking to her husband. He was gently rubbing her crooked hand…they noticed me watching and both smiled at me, so I smiled back.
I finished faxing the chart and then went into room 3. “So how ya doin in here?” I asked her.
“Just fine.” She answered with a smile.
“Can I get you anything, or reposition you?”
“I would like to be turned.”
I grabbed our tech Paula to help me and we gently turned and repositioned her to the left side, propping pillows behind her and under her legs and between her knees. I gave her a back rub, applied some lotion and covered her with a warm blanket. She thanked us and then said “I’m so sorry to make so much work for you girls.”
“Please don’t say that…it is our pleasure to help you.” I answered with a smile, and I meant it.
This woman has MS and it has ravaged her body…she is not old…she fully has her mind and can breathe on her own but she has no use of her body whatsoever! Read more…
Growing up as an introverted, quiet child who was bullied, I often felt alone, neglected and caged in. I could run away or fight back when absolutely necessary. However, I had a hard time sharing my story. I kept to myself, often pretending that nothing in the outside world had a capacity to harm me.
In reality every harsh word, every cutting remark and every beating I took created deep wounds that became more and more painful as time went by. The most hurtful was the fact that those wounds were inflicted by my own clan, the ones who were supposed to provide support.
Years have passed since then. I can put those events into perspective now. I also understand how my own way of handling what was going on made matters worse for me. The most important lesson I learned is that the biggest weapon a bully has is our silence.
Often in our desire to be a part of a group whether it is a family unit, circle of friends or fellow professionals, we try to play things down. We also fear retaliation and do not want to make the bullies more mad than they already are.
Since bullies frequently threaten us by promising further harm if we were to ever speak out, we frequently find ourselves suffering silently. Our silence is what enables the bullies to continue to bully others.
However, once we break the silence and do it consistently suddenly the tables begin to turn. Nothing makes a bully more afraid than your act of speaking out not only for yourself but also for others who may not have the courage to do so themselves. Read more…
I met her as she ran into room 1 carrying his little grey body…the triage nurse was just ahead of her with scared eyes. The mom, carrying the little grey body, was not crying. I wanted to. I took the little grey body from her, he was heavy and stiff, and laid him on the bed. The triage nurse ran to get more help. I grabbed the Pedi bag mask and began rescue breathing—actually there was nothing to rescue but I couldn’t not do it. There was no pulse and no activity but asystole on the monitor…he was gone.
“Please don’t do that…it’s his time to go and I don’t want him to come back. He has had a bad life, and we have a Do Not Resuscitate order.”
The nurse in me began screaming, “I’m supposed to save him…do CPR…intubate him…not give up!”
My mind heard her but my heart couldn’t take it in. I continued until the doc came in. The boy still had no pulse and he was mottled and grey. His eyes were open.
“What happened?” the doc asked.
“I just found him this way when I went to check on him.” She answered. No tears.
As the doctor and mother talked about the boy’s chromosome disorder and his pain I unwrapped the blue car blanket that held his little body. He was naked. This bothered me greatly.
“Why is he naked?” I asked her.
“He hated clothes.” She answered. My heart hurt.
Time of death 8:04am. Read more…
As the music starts pumping through the MP3 player speakers, the whole gym full of women take their positions and ready for the Zumba class to take off. My friend and I give each other a grin and laugh…this is our first class and though the gym is full of women of varying ages and shapes, but we are feeling a bit on display. As soon as the instructor starts moving her body and giving instructions, intimidation melted away and the music took over. An hour later we were drenched in sweat with big smiles on our faces! I will not say that we knew many of the moves or that we looked cute doing them but the class was soooo fun!! Wed. night we are going back for more.
One week ago today, my friend and I made a commitment to one another to hold each other accountable as we once again pledged to live a life of health and fitness. We both had slipped into some unhealthy patterns over time and needed a good nudging and a hand hold to make a plan and stick to it. So this past week we went to the gym, ate a more healthy diet, drank more water and attended our first Zumba class. During this week we called each other and checked in…all of this helped us to stay focused and motivated.
My husband and I do this partnership as well. In order for our marriage to be healthy and to continue to succeed we depend on one another to stay focused on what is important, to partner up on the household responsibilities and errands…we partner up with the family (grown children that they are now), and with any problems that arise. Read more…
I was watching the show Undercover Boss the other night and it made me a little emotional. The show has a wonderful concept, the CEO of the company goes undercover and becomes a worker in 2 or 3 different areas of the company to find out how the company is really functioning…and to see how the employees function in their positions. In this episode, 3 exceptional employees of the company, 7 eleven, were highlighted and awarded for their excellent service.
What struck me about these employees was their true love of the job…they brought their A game every day and they didn’t bitch and moan while performing their job. These people did not have cushy positions with a window overlooking the ocean!! These people had the menial jobs that make companies run smoothly…an elderly woman who works the coffee machines…She knew every customers name and served them with a smile…a night delivery man, who is an immigrant—smiling and so happy to have a job that supports his family and an ex-military man who works on a dessert assembly line…who was smiling and encouraging to the “new” guy. All of these people were given this “new” guy to train. Not one of them bemoaned their job or their employer…they were encouraging to him and didnt make him feel like he was bothering them…
This brings me to the thought…What would the CEO of my company see if he went undercover in the ER? The nurses, techs, secretaries, docs and lab techs that work in our ER do an amazing job everyday! Read more…
“Perhaps our real work, whether offering or seeking care, is to recognize that the healing relationship–the field upon which patient and practitioner meet–is, to use the words of the mythologist Joseph Campbell, a ‘self-mirroring mystery’–the embodiment of a singular human activity that raises essential questions about self, other, and what it means to heal thy self.”
There is an old Celtic tale about 5 sons of the Irish King Eochaid. The sons were out hunting and got lost. They became tired and thirsty and set out in search of water. Each went a different way but all ended up, at different times, to the site of the woman beside the well.
The tale tells that the woman guarding this well was hideous. Blacker than coal was every inch of her. Her hair was a grey, wiry mass of substance that compared to a wild horse’s tail. This hair appeared only attached at the top surface of her scalp. Her nose was awry and held wide nostrils. Her eyes were red and smoke blurred. Her center was a wrinkled and freckled belly that overtook warped, crooked shins, garnished with massive ankles and a pair of capacious shovels for feet and knotted knees. Long livid nails escaped her hands.
The oldest son of the King found the well first. Standing before the hideous woman he asked for some water. She told him the only way to get some water was to kiss her. He refused, vowing he would rather die than kiss her and he turned away. Read more…