Being a nurse means you ignore your problems to deal with those of your patients. You ignore your family's loss, to acknowledge and grieve with your patients' families. As a nurse, you put aside your pains to treat and soothe your patient's pains.
At the age of 19, I suffered a horrible motor vehicle accident that nearly claimed my life. Sustained a left femur, tibia and fibula compound fractures, a shattered left wrist, a ruptured diaphragm, and a hemothorax, I was on a ventilator for 9 days following. Luckily I am still here close to 10 years later to write about it. Now I have rods and screws everywhere.
Ever since then, I struggle with chronic pain. My left leg hurts daily, some days it is unbearable, but I continue doing my work, caring for my patients making sure they are comfortable and pain free. Patients and coworkers see me limping and dragging my leg and always question what is wrong with it, I jokingly say "I'm faking it, to see if they will send me home early."
But I have made a promise to myself that my patients and their pains and illnesses will take priority. So I continue to hop on, never using my pain as an excuse to lag on my work, or treat my patients any less. On a scale from 0-10, I am at a 5-7 daily at work, sometimes 10, but I will not show it, and my patients will not be ignored over my pains.
I have made an oath as a nurse to treat the sick and the hurt, and to put them before me, so I will. (At least until I leave work, then I have to take care of me, to be able to go back the next day). I have tried it all, from compression stockings, different shoes, orthopedic shoes, to warm/cold compresses, from accupuncture to medications. Nothing takes the pain completely away.
But I'm not the only one, nurses are human, we hurt, we grieve, we lose just as our patients do, but we ignore our troubles to care for you and your loved ones. That NICU nurse caring for your newborn, might have just lost her baby recently, that hospice nurse might have just lost a parent. I wish patients would understand that we empathize with their pains and suffering, because we too go through it.
Humanize your nurses, understand that we care, we feel, we treat and are sometimes treated.
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN