When I was 19 years old I decided I wanted to be a nurse. I had these big dreams and visions of “helping people”!
I have to say this pandemic has had me questioning everything! The way nurses have been treated during this crisis has been shocking to say the least.
So many things made me pick up my jaw off the floor this year- I already addressed my major concerns in this blog post Here
But then right at those lowest points when I feel the most jaded is when I am reminded of all of the moments. All of the experiences I have had over the years that have made me into the nurse and person I am today.
Like the time during my first year working as an RN. I was working nights on a cardiac medical-surgical unit and it was a crazy busy night. Time stood still when the patients heart monitor started beeping in room 14. You see she was a 40 year old cancer patient that had been with us awhile and seemed stable for the most part- that is until that night. Her heart rate started dropping suddenly. But you have to understand she was a DNR- meaning we were not going to try to resuscitate her. It all happened so fast- we knew her family was not going to make it in time. An LPN and myself went into her room to be with her. She was conscious the entire time. She was scared and as she was taking her last breaths we rubbed her back and told her to not be afraid. She was my first patient death! That MOMENT has stayed with me my entire career.
Like the time during my first year working in Labor and Delivery. I was assigned to my first fetal demise (a baby we knew was going to be stillborn). You see I didn’t know if I could do it- I just didn’t know. You have to understand-I lost my own 2 month old daughter 5 years prior to that moment and I just didn’t know if I could be in THAT moment. I did assist in the delivery of that beautiful baby girl. I cried. The physician cried. The mother wept.
Like the time many years later when I was called to the ER. At this point in my career I was an advocate and educator for our families in labor and delivery who were losing their babies- What I was scared of earlier in my career ended being my gift for many years. The ER called me in labor and delivery because they had a 40 year old man that had come in and suddenly died of a heart attack. His 8 year old daughter was with his wife in the ER and they wanted me to help them make memories with her- We made handprints of her daddy’s hand and her fingers. To this day I still have the photo of the mold we made.
What people don’t realize is every patient we care for has a story- and we get to be a part of every one of them. The joy, the nervousness, the fear, and yes even in the heartbreak. We, nurses are there for every moment. So when I feel jaded by current circumstances- I look back to these moments and many others and remember my WHY.
2020 The Year of the Nurse?
I saw a meme the other day that said “When I heard 2020 was going to be The Year of the Nurse this is not what I expected.” At first I laughed and said “ain’t that the truth”.
This year has been shocking on so many levels. But then as I thought about that statement further my thoughts and the way I looked at that statement changed a bit.
No- this year is not at all what I expected-AT ALL!
I did not expect a worldwide pandemic.
I did not expect a shortage of life saving “personal protective equipment” (PPE) which includes masks, gowns, gloves, faceshields.
I did not expect that nurses would not be allowed to wear there own PPE, and get this- be written up or sent home if they refused to take their own mask off leaving them at risk to get sick- like what in the world. That was SHOCKING.
I did not expect having to re-use n95 masks that could be contaminated with particles of the virus. In school we were always taught to discard and use a new mask. All of a sudden policies changed to make it okay all of a sudden to disregard everything we’ve learned.
I did not expect that the actual CDC would change guidelines in the beginning of the pandemic stating things like masks are not required and there is no evidence to show that this virus is airborne. These policies were changed to protect hospitals and healthcare facilities-not the nurses and healthcare professionals. That was shocking. As we know recently the CDC once again changed their view on the possibility that the virus is airborne.
I did not expect my fellow nurses to be expected to work when they had a positive result if they were not severely sick.
I did not expected this pandemic to become political in nature- causing some to debate simple things like wearing a mask to protect themselves and others and even denying it all together.
I never expected for nurses (one of the most trusted professions) to get spit on or yelled at out in public.
These are just some of the unexpected realizations that 2020 has brought to the forefront of my mind.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel-
My fellow nurses have realized their own gifts and powers.
They have stood up for themselves and not accepted being treated that way- many unfortunately have had to leave the bedside to prove this.
My fellow nurses, including myself, have begun to think outside of the box and offer their gifts to the world in the forms of their own businesses- they are not just confined to the walls of a hospital with administration that simply does not care.
Many have dug deep to truly see their profession as a ministry. We as nurses, have comforted, supported, prayed with, held hands with those affected by this virus and the chaos it has caused.
No-2020 was not the year I expected as a nurse-but one thing is for sure-I will not forget how we as nurses were treated during this time.