Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Nurses Can Be Crazy

Hello Friends:

What is it about the medical profession that makes it so very difficult to get your needs understood and met? Now, nurses have a craptacular job, dealing with sick people all day, and much worse. And yet I have this idea that compassion, gentleness, and empathy ought to be part of any nurse's emotional makeup. Ah, my treasured illusions go smasha smasha once again.

Okay, I'll back up and say I visit a great practice with a very understanding primary care doctor, a great head nurse, and staff that does make an attempt to meet my needs. And still, in spite of three years of building relationships, I get taken off guard. On a routine visit I run into someone new who does not seem to have had the common sense to review my file for the split second it would take to spot the (no doubt) big red flag saying THIS ONE IS A FRUIT LOOP and treat me accordingly. Instead, after saying "You are not on the schedule" and "It's important that you understand that this is not appropriate for a nurses visit" (which wasn't actually true, by the way) she wonders why her patient is starting to get flustered and cry. Having spent the last fifteen minutes staring at the empty blood vials on the counter before me hadn't helped, mind you. But this is not the woman who will have the honor of drawing my blood, unless she plans to use her nails.

What is going through a nurse's mind when she looks at a crying patient, and instead of saying, "Oh dear, you are so unhappy. What can I do for you?" she says "Now, you need to calm down." If I could &%$@# calm down by wanting to, it wouldn't be an anxiety disorder, would it?


I ended up leaving in tears before they got to the blood work. I wasn't even sure they intended to do it, given I was "not on the schedule" for an appointment that my doctor told me to make - in writing - with her own staff. Man. Can we all get ourselves on the same page people?

The contrast, and the ray of hope, is the response of three people. My husband, who is as supportive and attentive as a person can be without being an eighteen-hour underwire bra. Then the head nurse I like calls my house - she talks to my husband, apologizes, and asks what we can do in the future to make things different. And then my psychologist, who is going to call my primary care doctor and have "a bit of a chat". Advocates. I think we could all use more advocates for our needs, especially in the medical field. So often it seems they try to treat us in parts, not realizing that a person is a whole package. You try to get well, and you end up leaving battier than when you showed up.

My mind isn't perfect, but I'd sure like to keep what I have left.

Your Hostess With Neuroses


The Tenacious Writer said...

Crazy, indeed! Compared to someone that stupid and completely lacking in empathy, you are the picture of mental health. I really, really hope someone read her the riot act. Well, what I really hope is that someone kicked her out of there and she is currently signing up for unemployment.

But more importantly, how does your husband feel about being compared to a bra?

The Blue Morpho said...

My spouse appreciates certain absurdist humor, especially when used as praise :) He laughed.

therapydoc said...

You're a terrific blogger! Thanks for linking over, I'll do the same, link to you. I already bookmarked it.

The Blue Morpho said...

Hello therapydoc: Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I appreciate the link. Looking forward to more posts. Cheers!

marsviking said...

Once I was woken by a nurse who told me I must take my sleeping pill. I had been sleeping soundly without it.
Are patients royalty, or is it just a bad habit to use "we" as in "how are we feeling this morning"?
If I hear the word BM one more time, I will scream.

marsviking said...

If nurses would just treat people with problems with dignity, there would certainly be less emotional "sickness" in the world.
We don't choose these things.

RS Boucher said...

I love this blog, like you I have serious problems with anxiety and have for almost 20 years, now. I wanted to add something about this post.

The thing about nurses and empathy. I was an EMT for about 3 years (this was before the anxiety, and yes, it did contribute to my OCD and weird crap issues). Nurses generally have to be people who can turn emotions on and off because if they didn't, they would not be able to hold it together with some of the things they see. My grandma was an RN for 35 years and she was one of the coldest, most emotionless, empty people I've ever known. I think that job ruins people. The same goes for EMTs. Good people until they've been calloused by the job for decades and then all of a sudden they are some seriously emotionless people. I've met some nurses in my life that I just wanted to beat senseless, but then again, I've been in their shoes a bit and I know why they are what they are. Doesn't excuse it, though.

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