An open letter

I like to write notes to express my thoughts. I used to write notes to my basketball coach during practices. Verbal notes. For example, “Dear Coach, Thank you for running us until we are ready to throw up. I really appreciate it. Love, Chandler.” Coach never really appreciated them. However, I have continued writing verbal notes at times to really emphasize a point. Or, just because I like to. There are times, however, when verbal notes – or notes of any sort – wouldn’t really be appropriate. Like when I am frustrated at work. Those thoughts usually have to stay inside my head. But there are times, if I were able, this is what my note would say.

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Dear Parent of my Patients,
Today I ask you to please give grace to the nurse that is 10 minutes late with your child’s insulin. You may not realize this but she’s already staying late to be able to dismiss another patient who was forgotten by the doctors earlier that day. Well, not really forgotten, but it seemed to take forever for things to get done for that family too. It doesn’t mean that your nurse doesn’t care about your child. She does. The fact that she came to your room at all means that she chose not to bolt to the exit the instant she was finished giving report. It means she is putting you above herself, even if she was a few minutes later than you wanted.

Please give grace to the nurse who doesn’t have all the answers.The doctor doesn’t give them all to her. Nor, in reality, do they always know everything. Please do not call the unit and berate the nurse for the job she is doing when you have not actually been there. A nurse’s job is taking the best possible care of your child that she can. No, she will not let your child go home if she thinks that there is a possibility that something seriously wrong is going to happen. Yes, she knows what she is talking about. And when she says that your child looks better and has been seriously helped by the care already given, she’s not just saying that to get you off the phone. And, even when you yell at her and get upset at her she will still present your concerns to the doctor. Not because she is happy with you but because she wants to make sure that the symptoms your child are having are not overlooked. For me personally, no matter how you treat me, your child is precious to me and has been given into my care. That is something I do not take lightly.

That’s something else I would like to point out. Assignments are given before the nurses arrive on the unit. The nurse writes names down of children she has never met. Then she takes “report,” which is essentially a 5-10 minute review of their story. Immediately after report the nurse has accepted care of that patient and is expected to care for them. No matter the issue, no matter the background, no matter the family situation. That’s our job. If we happen to tuck your child in differently than you do, or give medicine on a slightly different schedule than you do, or do something else differently, please remember that we do not know your home routine, or you, and are doing our best. It makes it quite a challenge some days!

This note is simply a request to give your nurse some grace. We are busting our butts every day to care for your child and some days it doesn’t seem like you notice or care. You only see when we are five minutes later to the room than you wanted, when really we drop everything as soon as possible to get there. Give us grace, and we will continue to care for your child in the best way we know how.

Thanks,
Chandler

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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.

Phone chargers, anyone?

In a moment of emergency, you might grab your phone before you ran out the door, but the odds of you remembering your phone charger are not great. Especially if it’s a medical emergency. Quite a few of the parents of our hospital patients experience the same thing. I’ve donated a few chargers to the affectionately called “charger bucket” at work, but they disappear so fast. The bucket sometimes gets refilled by chargers that are left and no one bothers to come back and retrieve them. Right now the only chargers left are so old I doubt there are even phones out there that use them.

So… I was thinking. Do any of YOU have old chargers that don’t work for your current phone? We get the most requests for Android, iPhone 4/4s, and iPhone 5/5s/5c chargers.

If you’d like to donate an old phone charger, just let me know! I’m sure that you will make the day of someone stuck in the hospital with a dead battery, and lots of family to keep updated!

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