Saturday, October 13, 2007

High Ideals

I've been thinking about my recent posts. I'm beginning to think that maybe my expectations of nurses are too high. I have a hard time believing that it can't at least partially be me when there's so many bad experiences clumped together. Maybe I just need to make my expectations fit reality better.

I can tell you where I got my expectations from. They come from a hospital in the state of Washington. My husband had gone to visit his daughters and became ill. None of the people that he was staying with realized just how serious it was. I was at home in California, so I was of no help to Donny.

On April 18, 2007 my step-daughter had just gotten home from taking her husband to work and decided to check on her dad, since she was worried about him. She found it hard to get any sort of response from him and decided to take him to ER. She had a friend come help her get him out to the car. When they were in the driveway they noticed that he had turned blue.

The friend that was carrying Donny put him down on the ground. They felt for a pulse and there wasn't one. Donny's oldest daughter keeps up her certification in CPR because she volunteers at a summer camp for handicapped children. She administered CPR until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics (EMTs, whatever they were) took over doing CPR and got Donny breathing again.

I got a call while Donny was still being worked on by the paramedics telling me what had happened so far. It seems like it was no time until the girls were calling me from ER, and yet it seemed to have taken forever. The doctor's said that I needed to come right away, that Donny wasn't going to make it. They said they would try to keep him alive until I got there.

Before I hung up the phone I had a ticket for the next flight up that I had time to get to. (We live 2 hours from the airport.) I arrived in town and went straight to the hospital. He was in ICU by that time, and so I went and sat with him in his room.

The nurse let me know that there were no hard and fast visiting hours, that I could stay as much as I wanted. I chose to stay the night there. By the time that the girls went home the night shift was on. That first night nurse was so patient. He taught me how to read the monitor, so I could see what was happening. He told me what all the equipment was and why Donny needed it. He helped me understand.

Every nurse that we had after that was the same way. The second night that I was there I told the night nurse that if I asked too many questions to just let me know and I'd stop. He told me that there was no such thing as too many questions. Every nurse that Donny had was more than willing to explain what they were doing for him and why. It didn't matter if I had asked the same question before, they explained it again. One nurse looked so proud of me when Donny's youngest daughter asked her a questions about a medicine she was giving him, and I answered. I got it exactly right too.

Not only did the nurses do an outstanding job of explaining things, but they were friendly and professional too. They took the time to talk to me. When I would go to the cafeteria they didn't seem to mind reassuring me that if anything happened they would call my cell. They cared, and it showed.

This is the standard of nursing that I look for now. This is how I think that the ideal nurse should be. Yes, there were moments of frustration, and of miscommunication. But the overall standard was what I described. I don't want perfection, I want caring, understanding, and professionalism. Am I asking too much?

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