One Moment In Their Lives
Posted by Laura on June 23, 2010
Out of all the different parts of precepting, I have loved getting to know the patients in the emergency department (ED). It is the whole emotional highs and lows of the patient from admit through procedures and medications to discharge or transfer. It’s the mental process of anxiety, pain, insecurity, needs, distrust and dependency. It’s so different from the med/surg floor where you may see an improvement in mental status from waking in the morning, or after a procedure, to the delights of going home.
These patients come into ED all come in for the same reason – an immediate need either in their mind, or in the mind of the one who brings them in. Like a new puzzle waiting to be put back together, some with 50 pieces and others with hundreds.
The doctors and nurses all know these patients, even if they aren’t ‘frequent flyers’, because they know the how the pieces add up and the immediate care each one requires based on their medical condition. They are all treated with respect and care to get them home again or where they need to be. Some patients take a while to make their way through the paperwork/labs/procedures to get there, but they all are efficiently managed.
What amazes me is how vulnerable the human is. We put ourselves out there for care from a stranger because we have to, and all the emotion put into this heightens our anxiety, pain, HR & BP. I have been able to talk to the patients and the caregivers who brought them in from the onset of an assessment, through their meds and after, seeing them relax just by knowing there is someone who cares and listens. Giving a shot of lorazepam or morphine, makes more of an adjustment 🙂 but it also adds to the overall trust they feel in the hands of their healthcare providers.
I get to know many individuals each shift for that moment in their life when they have their greatest need. I want that time to be healed anyway that it can, and while I am still learning how to administer medications and treatments, I’ve found I can help ease a patients mind along the way not only with my hands but by listening.
I have had my patients say ‘thank you’ after placing an IV. I’m amazed. I know it hurts, even if they say it doesn’t. I get hugs, and patients searching for me to tell me good-bye on their way out. I know where this short piece of emotional attachment comes from, and I understand how we have a need for it, but I’m just happy to be able to be a part of it.
To me, it is the same for the drug seeker, the one who just wants attention, or the one who is seriously ill. Some patients conditions, caused by themselves or by chance, creates the immediate need for the ED. I find it impossible at this time to put them in a category and label them. Those puzzle pieces aren’t flat yet to me. There are so many dimentions. I know even the patient on drugs has a need they can’t control. Many patients can’t understand things, no matter how it is explained, and there will be nurses and doctors who can’t understand their patient, no matter how hard the patient tries. Some puzzles may have a piece missing, because the cat got it, but we call it finished. To me – it’s this one moment in their lives where I hope I can make a difference and I’m so grateful for the opportunity as a student nurse to help.
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