There is ALWAYS someone in your corner…you may not even know them yet; they may even be a stranger.
For those of you that didn’t already know, I’m a nurse. Well, I’m a murse. A man nurse. A real-life Gaylord Focker that truly enjoys his day-to-day work. I remember when I told my dad that I was pursuing nursing as a major in college. He leaned into me as if he was going to offend the fucking dog in the room and whispered, “You know son..if your gay I still love you. You’re my guy.”
When he told me that I just laughed. “Good for you Dad” I thought. I go easy on the old man because his dad didn’t even know what “gay” was. He literally couldn’t understand it nor had many good things to say about the lifestyle. Today, I think Grandpa would lose his shit if he saw the running list of tangential gender classifications. When my Father leaned into me that day, I just knew he was trying to tell me he loved me.
Anyways, in my time being Gaylord Focker, Murse Boy Wonder, I’ve worked in several different care arenas throughout the nation. I’m one of the lucky ones that’s been able to bounce around and get clinical experience in several different levels of care. I’ve been the med-surg pion, elbow deep in shit for 12hr shifts, and the ER nurse giving chest compression’s to a patient fresh out of the ambulance. Hell, I’ve even had the wonderful opportunity to take an 8 moth vacation to beautiful Baghdad to take care for some patients there! There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of roasting camel shit in 110 degree heat. Bottom line, I’m grateful for my life and experience.
Honestly, I’m grateful for the patients.
You know how something you really love and are thankful for can be the bane of your existence? Your cell phone for example. You can’t live without it. Shit, you need it to text, and send memes of kittens eating short stacks of pancakes to your friends (Rob, Henry, Adam, and Smalls will understand). But this means you have to charge the bastard mid-day, run back into the house after you left it next to the toilet from a long shit. You start to hate the phone that you love. But damn, when that shit updates and instagram lets you put GIFs on stories. Damn son. That phone is your baby again.
This is the same exact phenomenon that happens with patients. Nurses love their patients. It’s the reason we get into this business; we’re usually people persons that are extroverted and, for me, want to make everyone laugh. We also appreciate the job security because, well, patients always need a nurse. But just like the cell phone, sometimes those fuckers drive us up the wall. Sometimes patients think that a hospitalization or ER visit is a stop in at the all you can eat, shit-on-a-nurse buffet.
“Nurse! Can you get me some pain medication?? I’m in 10/10 pain in my knee again” as the patient is kicking back comfortably, gnawing on a chicken wing like a god damn rancor in Star Wars. …I guess everyone’s perception of pain is different. You also get patients that flip their shit over what they perceive as an emergency. “I feel nauseous!! Is anyone going to do anything for me??” Well if you didn’t drink your weight in red wine and chicharrones we wouldn’t have this problem, guy. It’ll buff out.
Through all of the shit, pain, broken bones, vomit, and attitude, taking care of patients always ends up bringing such happiness into my life (I know it’s hard to believe; fickle bitch). It’s because once you sift through all the crap, rancors, drunks, and bureaucracy, there are those patients that truly remind you of your purpose in this world. And that purpose is to bring everybody back to reality; show others that we are in this together. To demonstrate to people that we’re all cut from the same cloth no matter where we’re from and how we got here. As our society becomes hyper-connected through social media and other vehicles, we grow less connected inter-personally. But establishing interpersonal connection is a nurse’s super-power. We’re cornering the market. We are the ones that sit patients down, pause the clock, open up, and ask, “How can I truly help you?”
Just yesterday I had a patient that checked into the ED. I can’t relay too much information because of certain patient privacy laws, but I’ll paint a good picture for you. The patient was visibly shaking, tearful, and had her little girl with her. The medic triaged her and brought her back into a room where she waited for me to come in. I waltzed into the room, rubbed a good ‘ol glob of hand sanitizer on my hands and said, “How’s it going?”
She was anxious, scared, and truly sad. After assessing her for a few minutes, I found she was an immigrant from Guam. She was the spouse of an American service member and this was her first experience away form home and on a military base. This base in particular is desolate and about 3 hrs away from any major city and, quite frankly, anything to do. It lacks many family services and activities due to the nature of the mission performed at the base. Needless to say, this patient felt alone and hopeless.
Just as the gluttonous medical machine usually does, it tried to medicate her. Nothing worked in the past; the smallest amount of medication sedated her and didn’t address her root problem. Which was seclusion and loneliness. This case was not a Dr. Cox case (from the show Scrubs) where you throw a bunch of pills at someone and see what sticks. Fuck that.
Where she’s from, the culture highly values the community and interpersonal connections. How she explained it, friends walk into your house uninvited to catch up, children play freely with other kids in the yards. Generations of family live under the same roof, and help each other with the plumbing, groceries, picking up the kids, etc. The new seclusion on the military base, lack of friendships, and the artificial community connection via social media was killing her. What it boiled down to was she felt the need to come to an ER for help. Guidance, resources, medical advice… she needed something.
As a nurse, I’m charged with thinking outside of the medical model. I’m responsible to consider all avenues of approach in regards to a patient’s problem. The Guamanian lady expressed that she had no one to turn too, and it built up anxiety to the point she was having chest palpitations. The stress her anxiety was placing on her family and husband was making her problem exponentially worse. Her world was swiftly and silently imploding on her confidence and will to live. She felt completely alone with no way out. This is what needed to be addressed. No pill can elicit the feeling of inclusion or acceptance. Big Pharma will lead you to think that, but we all know they’re crooks looking to throw more opioids down your throat.
Hearing her say this reminded me of someone. Someone I care for more than anything in the world. My wife. Amanda is an Iron Woman and has made the choice to follow me around the nation for my career. Though the moves have led to numerous opportunities, its kept her career in teaching from gaining traction at each location. Despite this, when I told her we’d be moving hundreds of miles away from home to a secluded base in the desert she didn’t even hesitate to ask with conviction, “When do we leave?”
Unfortunately, Amanda is experiencing a lot of what the Guamanian woman is. Trouble making connections with other moms, finding quality family activities during the day, and a feeling of seclusion at this location. This got my brain spinning. I usually can’t rub two fucking brain cells together and have the memory of a yak in heat, but I started thinking. If this issue is having an effect on my wife, wonder-woman, what could it be doing to a new mom, from a foreign country that has trouble speaking English?
My next move during this patient encounter is the real lesson that 1.) I will forever remember and 2.) wanted to share with you all. After the MD saw her discussed a medical plan her, I went to discharge her home. After all the paperwork was signed and there were no more questions, I took it upon my self to become vulnerable with the patient. I said, “Theres’ something I want to tell you. I want you to know that you aren’t alone in this. My wife is having the same struggles. This isn’t you. Other people are in the exact same spot you are.”
The patient’s eyes lit up. I’m serious. Not like a deer in the headlights look but like a Clark Griswald lit the house up look. Right before Uncle Eddy showed up…
She was beaming. I couldn’t believe it. She went on to say that she feels so bad her anxiety and loneliness is effecting her husbands day-to-day job. I replied, “Do not feel bad. You are his world and allow him to have a job. You are the great enabler. You ARE the family. A house can’t be built without a foundation and you’re that very foundation. I know your husband agrees!” He nodded with a big smile.
Instantaneously, this patient felt safe and confident to go home. She left the ED in a better condition than how she arrived. Just knowing that she wasn’t alone in this fight was the encouragement she needed. That’s what we do as nurses. We have fucking super-powers. Our ability to ground ourselves and our patients, have a real interpersonal discussion and help people is unrivaled.
As a father and dadly dad, it’s important to teach our children to actually talk to people. Level with others because in this increasingly unconnected-via-overly-connected world real interpersonal connections are becoming a thing of the past. Passing this revelation is an opportunity to exercise the fucking Art of Dadliness. I know that this experience is going to change the way I raise my little daughter. I want her to start with skills like this, rather than learning at age 30. I hope she can help someone in need by just being vulnerable and having that real connection with others. There is so much we can extract from each other in genuine symbiotic conversation that social media cant even touch.
I’d love to hear what you all thing, truly. Social media has interestingly affected the way we connect and communicate with others. It will damn sure effect how our children will form relationships in the future. That’s for certain.
P.S. – Peep the dope Rancor pic. Click on article title to see it 8-).