We learn many lessons from pain, but more effectively, I think from embarassment. Its because embarassment tends to linger longer.
The next rung on the ladder of my nursing education was the hospital. I just knew this is where I would learn “real nurse” work. (That very notion cracks me up by the way, as I now know that 95% of nursing is customer service.) This is where I was assigned my first inpatient. I was responsible for their assessment, bathing, and any other needs that may arise. I also had a packet of documentation as thick as a T-bone steak to do on them. This thing was nothing if not thorough. Religion, work and travel history, registered voting party, sphincter diameter, favorite restaurant, you name it, it was in there. I spent the first hour poring over my patient’s chart trying to scavenge as much information as possible before meeting them. I had barely found anything before I was torn from the desk and ushered to my assigned room. Apparently we were there to care for patients, not charts. On opening the door, I was greeted by scathing glare of the most miserable soul to inhabit God’s green earth. Picture a dirtier and meaner Ron Jeremy’s fat torso sitting up in a bed from under a pile of blankets and you wouldn’t be far off. The packet of paper in my hand just seemed to get heavier. I after forcing out an introduction I began the tedious chore of interviewing my patient or “collecting objective data” for the sake of my assessment. I would have gladly endured bodily injury if it would have gotten me out of it. Now, what seemed like ten years and a billion sarcastic responses later, it was time for me to lay hand and stethescope to my patient for a head to toe inspection. I shined my little flashlight into his piercing eyes. I auscultated his dramatic and exasperated huffs and curses from all regions of the lungs. I located his heart, though I had my doubts of its existence, and identified both the lub and the dub of it’s pumping. Then, not failing to narrate my care, I told him I would need to throw back his linens to see his feet. Perhaps I should have narrated care before instead of during, because as I yanked the mountain of layers up, he quite clearly let me know that he “don’t have no damn feet.” Sure enough, he was a double above the knee amputee. I returned the blankets to their original state, ran out of the room, and never went back in it.
Truth is, I probably wouldn’t have gotten away with avoiding my only patient all day, but I was admitted to the Emergency Room.
Shortly after completing my “assessment” I was following our instructor around, along with a small group of students to learn something (I’ve no clue what exactly it was) but I do remember interrupting her to say I needed a chair. She looked at me like I was insane and said “I don’t think you’re going to find one.” Black curtains were suddenly being pulled in on my visual field as my knees started to go numb. Soon there was miraculously a chair rolled under my butt and a blood pressure cuff around my arm. I kind of thought I might be dying. It didn’t help that I apparently had no blood pressure. I may have been momentarily relieved that I didn’t have to go back to see my patient, seeing as how I was dying and all.
Long story short, was forced to admit myself to the ER to were I became rather angry and pouty because I knew that I now looked like the weakest link in the group, and that I was missing the bulk of a whole day of clinical, and that I would likely have an aweful time playing catch-up. As it turned out, I had just vagaled down and fainted: a phenomenon that I avoided from then on by keeping a granola bar in my pocket. And that is the story of how I barely survived my first day of hospital clinical.
*Please be aware that any time a patient is mentioned in my stories, I have changed details and often create “composite” scenarios in an effort to protect their privacy and dignity while doing my best to preserve the authenticity of the