Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nurse or Family. . . .Which Role is First?

Today I am not a nurse, today I am a family member. Today I am on the otherside of my job. Someone I love very much had a major surgery. She is in the ICU currently and I am learning how it feels to be a "family member" instead of a "nurse".
Today I am not sure how pleased I am with my place of employment. There are things that have occurred that to some could be considered trivial, however to me they are important. It is my loved one this time that is laying in a bed, intubated and unable to communicate. It is my loved one who is in so much pain that she can't catch her breath and suddenly feels she might hyperventiliate and yet there is nothing she can do to stop this process. It is my loved one who is waking up from anesthesia and feeling sufficated by the tube that is in her throat and looking scared and feeling like no one is listening to the body language of fear, and yet because of this tube unable to make words. Unable to communicate verbally that she feels like she is smothering.

I watched an experienced nurse train a "baby" nurse today. It was refreshing in the beginning to see the experienced nurse being ever so patient and playing everything by the book. Then as my loved one began to wake up and start to feel the pain from surgery and begin to feel the need for the tube to be removed from her throat. I became a little concerned about the "baby" nurse. Baby nurse was doing a great job, however the tube was causing a feeling of panic and it was MY loved one who didn't feel like she could breathe. They FINALLY decided to extubate her. "Baby" nurse began first with the OG (orogastric tube) that was hooked up to suction. She ever so slowly began to pull this tube out. I understood being cautious, however what I didn't get was that when she got to the "gag" reflex she moved even slower. From the outside looking in, it appeared she was wanting to suction as she went, removing all unwanted saliva while removing the tube. She took a while to get this tube out. Once at the gag reflex she lingered, just suctioning. My loved one came up off the bed, gagging, feeling like she might vomit. My heart ached for her. She had just been cut open, I am sure this is causing unnecessary pain. I felt as if my hands were tied. I just wanted to scream at them. I am not by any means an ICU nurse. I have never seen someone extubated before, however they were nice enough to let me stay, to help keep her calm. She really wanted those tubes out!!!
At another point as she was waking up and coming out of the anesthesia, my loved one began to feel the REAL pain of surgery. She would moan with each breath. The older more experienced nurse proceeded to tell my loved on that she should "stop moaning, she was going to scare all of her family." I am so thankful at this point there was another family member in the room that was a nurse. I was not the only one TOTALLY offended by this comment. The other family member spoke up and told my loved one she could moan as much as she wanted, we understood she was in pain. I can't believe this older experienced nurse even said that.

Where is the compassion? Is it just me or does this senerio not seem right. If you are in pain, who has the right to judge that and tell you to lay there and not make noise? She was in obvious pain!

Today, I am not happy with my place of employment. Today, I question the integrity of some of those I work with. Today, I am not liking being a family member. Today I am learning to be a better nurse. Today, I am embarassed to say these are my co-workers. Today, I am family first, nurse second. Today, I have been fearful of the outcome of my loved ones illness. Today, no one has seemed to check in with us as a family to see how we were coping with this sudden illness. Today, I am sad I work with nurses who have seemed to have lost their compassion.

Today, my loved one had surgery. . .



  1. Wow. That would be so hard. I can't imagine having to step over into that role. We're always so lucky that we have great nurses, so I can't imagine how you felt. I'm sorry. (((HUGS)))

  2. What a scary thing to witness, both as a family member and a nurse. I hope everything works out and that your family sees fast healing from all of this. As far as being a nurse, you should feel appreciated, and so this week we say thanks to you and all nurses for even being there for families, friends, and every person that has needed support. The stories that you guys create leave us all indebted.

  3. O.N. I am so sorry. It is so difficult to watch our loved ones have to negotiate our own medical system. I am awful and outspoken. I try to be as nice as I can but I will tell them in a skinny minute that my family member has a pain level of 10 on a 1-10 scale and I would like them to document that please, as well as their response. No nurse that I know of would document that as our hospital policy states that the patients pain level is what they state and that anything over a level of 3-4 must be addressed. I have also been known to ask the nurses to call the doctor. Yes, I am "that" dreaded family member. however, at the end of the day, I don't care. I'm a darn good nurse and so are you. Though that may not be your specialty area or mine we are intelligent and one job away from experience in that area. The basics of nursing is always the same..." To devote ourselves to those committed to our care." Stay direct and devoted. Hang in there, saying a prayer for you. {}internet hug