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Sunday, November 29, 2015

heroes in the most unexpected places

Why is being an ER nurse so hard?

I think its because after a while you get so angry. 

In ER you see suffering.  Pain.  Terrible tragedies.  You see people who through no fault of their own are living really tough lives. You see things other people don't see.

It stuns you what a lot of people are going through, what a lot of people live with day to day, whether it be some kind of  disease that is slowly killing them, a condition or handicap that they have been born with.

You see people whose life completely changed THAT day. They are in shock or denial but you know what is to come and it isn't good.

You see people die regularly. Some expected, some unexpected.  You hear the families mourn.

Then on the other end of the spectrum you see people who, shall we say are life's ineffective copers, to put it nicely. They run in if they vomited once.  They are the drug seekers, the alcoholics. They are the frequent fliers.  They are the just plain stupid. They are the mean and nasty people.

So here you are, this human being, trying to reconcile in your mind the two ends of that spectrum. Inevitably you start to get annoyed and pissed at the ineffective coper group. The time wasters. It's hard to have sympathy for your pimple when I just watched a family mourn the unexpected death of their 50 year old mother.

But the thing is, you aren't allowed to be human.  You are supposed to have sympathy for EVERYBODY from the pimple to the family of the dead mom.  That isn't possible. You try so hard to do it, you even feel guilty because you can't be that person you are "supposed" to be, that Mother Theresa figure that loves everybody.

Here's the thing: It is normal to feel the way you do. It is normal to not be able to reconcile the two ends of the spectrum.  If you didn't feel that way you wouldn't be normal.  Your anger is justified. A lot of the snivellers shouldn't be there and they do waste your time.  They take time and space from people who really need care.  There is nothing wrong with being angry.

You are right to be angry.  You are right to be hurt when people unload their stress on you, a person who is just trying to do their job.  You are right to feel overwhelmed by the mountain of information you are expected to retain, the chaotic environment you work in.  That cynicism and suspicion you
have developed is justified, people WILL use you and manipulate you.  Those have been earned through experience.

I encourage you to not feel guilty.  Do not feel guilty because you left that sore throat sitting while you worked up relieving the pain of that kidney stone.  If the sore throat is pissed, that isn't your problem.  You were putting your attention in the place where it was truly needed.  If the sore throat doesn't like it, it' their problem.  You are doing your job. You don't have to be nice to mean people.  You don't have to "understand" why they are mean.  They are MEAN, plain and simple.  So you do what you have to do and get out.  You don't try to "therapeutically communicate", you try to save your own sanity by spending as little time with them as possible.

You are a human being with rights to be treated with dignity.  No one gets to yell at you, hit you, curse you, verbally abuse you.  I don't care whats going on with them.  You have one of the most difficult jobs there is and you are a hero for doing it day to day.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank-you for saying that - I'll remember it the next time someone is nasty to me which will probably be tomorrow when I go back to work.

Now Am Found! said...

a powerful post. you er nurses are heroes!

Anonymous said...

AMEN.

Anonymous said...

PREACH!!!!! Your blog is pure gold. Keep it up. And thank you

Michael John Delos Santos said...

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Anonymous said...

Had a shit day in ER, reading your blog helps.

Good feed back, that I am extremely negative from some nurses in the lunch room, after getting yelled in the face by the pissed off, angry, plain old nasty patients.>ineffective cooper, seekers, flyers etc.


I am suppose to feel be happy, smile and don't let it get to me, "to fuck with them' as they say (smile and nod).


I am only human, so, I can feel anger and frustration too. I don't feel good when abuse.

You made me feel validated, that it's fine to feel this way. Not all of us, can be nurse sunshine, nightingale or mother Theresa in the ER. Some are better at it than others.


Dora Ali said...

Your blog is pure gold. http://www.afu.ac.ae/en/tuition-and-fees/

Nicki said...

This works two ways, though, I got accused of being passive-aggressive because I answered the question of what I did for work as "I am a lawyer". Apparently that was a veiled threat!