Let them eat cake… ‘er… Let them sleep.

I hate waking them up.

Anyone.

Especially my patients.

In a hospital, as you may well know, there are schedules. Things to do, people to see, always a task at hand. Pain meds cannot be given every hour, unless ordered that way – which is rare. Dressing changes need to be done as they are ordered, whether every 8 hours, daily, or only PRN. Vital signs are usually every 4 hours. Neurological checks and Neurovascular checks can be every 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 hours. Just whatever the doctor ordered. Doing these checks during the day, when the patients are wide awake, doesn’t bother me at all. I can just say “Hey! I’m about to shine a light in your eyes. It’ll only take a second.” Or, “Squeeze my hands as hard as you can.” It’s annoying to be bothered I’m sure, but no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

However, if it’s early in the morning, or the patient has just gone down for a good afternoon nap and are sleeping soundly, or the middle of the night, I hate it. I hate waking them up. I hate shaking their arm and warning them I’m about to (in my opinion) cruelly jolt them from sleep by shining my little red pen light in their eyes. If it was me, I would hate to be awoken in such a manner.

There are times when I pause for 30 minutes, even an hour. Hold the vital signs, let them sleep. Especially if they’ve been stable. Yet, longer than that? It’s not wise. No matter how annoying it might be to have a bright light in their eyes for a second, it is also a necessity. I know it would be a million times worse to leave them in peace and miss something important. As abnoxious as it must be to awake to the temperature probe sliding under your arm or across your forehead, it would be so much worse if your temperature was spiking and no one took note.

These are the arguments I have to have with myself as I walk into a room, knowing I am going to have to wake a child, and knowing their parents will have to quiet them back down. I have to give myself a pep talk- reason with myself- before I can justify waking a child. But what if I didn’t and something was terribly wrong?

I can remember back to when I was a child. I had horrible nightmares most nights. Some of them were so frequent I can still remember them. My room was next door to my parents’, and I would sneak quietly into their room many a night. I tried not to wake them, but in actuality wished they would hear me and wake up on their own. I hoped the floor would creak. I hoped they’d hear my breathing and they would stir.

Sometimes, the nightmares would be so bad that I bravely shook them on the shoulder, so that I could get a hug and a prayer. More often, I would sneak around the bed to the little mattress Dad had placed for me. A much as I wanted some reassurance, even more I wanted not to bother anyone.

Is that where my hatred of bothering my sleeping patients comes from? From when I was little and didn’t want to wake my parents, hoping that something other than my voice would wake them so I didn’t have to be the cause?

Or am I just too soft of a nurse?

Maybe it’s because I personally hate to be woken. I am someone who requires a lot of sleep, and I never seem to have enough. If you are going to wake me up it had better be for good reason. Luke gets the brunt of this at times, when he accidentally wakes me up in his sleep. I am not always nice in my half-awake state of mind. I usually hafta apologize in the morning when I realize it. I can’t stand to wake up for no good reason. Especially since I wake myself up frequently as it is. I wish I was a better sleeper!

Perhaps that’s my reasoning for hating to wake my patients up. I see other nurses go in with no problem and don’t seem to feel any regret. Whereas I alway seem to be in some sort of tug-a-war with myself as to whether I’m going to throw off the schedule for a few more minutes sleep.

Whatever it is, I haven’t yet been able to get past it. I will wake my patients. I will do their assessments, get their temperatures, do what needs to be done. But I don’t have to like it.

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