Friday, June 19, 2009

My Ministry

No one ever said this job was going to be easy! Some days I wonder why I ever chose a profession that will allow me to be beat up mentally and sometimes physically (by those demented, detoxing, and thoroughly confused patients). That will put me in a workplace where people don't really care about the people they are caring for, they just want the paycheck at the end of the week. That will place me in a world of strange work politics. That will have me working with people who find the petty things to complain and whine about that can't see past the "small stuff" to see what is real.

Then there are those days that I remember that God truly placed me in this profession. That if it weren't for Him holding my hand and clearing my mind, I would have never made it through nursing school. That if it weren't for the life experiences I have had, that God allowed me to go through, I would not have the compassion that I have to take care of those difficult patients. If it wasn't for his constant reminder that we are ALL His precious children that keeps me from becoming totally irate with those our of control patients who abuse their nurses verbally and hit and bite and kick and yell, and, and , and. . .

I have been exhausted by work this week. Haven't been able to get enough sleep. Been surrounded by death for the past two weeks and that in itself is exhausting. I have been presented with:

1. A patient who was dying of pancreatic cancer. Who didn't even know it was there until they were admitted to the hospital. Who at one point looked at me with fear in their eyes with one question. . ."I'm dying aren't I?". Who had a 4 day hospital stay then transfered to inpatient hospice. Whose family was amazing and realistic and stayed at their loved ones bedside holding on to every minute they could get.

2. A patient who was admitted with meningitis who has had head trauma in the past and because of that was "just not right". Who insisted on taking pictures of me with her cell phone. Who was laughing hysterically one minute and screaming from a headache the next. Who was impulsive and unsafe. Who refused to bathe and was so incredibly dirty my stomach turned from the smell of the room. Who I am not sure even realized they were dirty or that there was anything wrong with that. Who put their call light on literally every 10 minutes just to make sure somene would come when they called. Who really wanted to get home to their 2 year old daughter. Who I couldn't believe actually had a 2 year old daughter. . . . . who had to have social services intervene due to mental status.

3. A patient who had ischemic bowel who was 95 years old who was dying because surgery was too risky with the other health issues. Who's family along with the patient decided to make themselves a DNR. Who's family decided that along with no CPR they still want every blood draw, every test, every intervention possible done to safe this poor person. Who is having to be stuck with a needle multiple times a day for blood work and IV starts because an IV won't stay good. Who's family doesn't want to put them through getting a central line. Who has a very large family with no less than 5-8 people in the room at one time 24 hours a day. And this nurse doesn't have the heart to tell them to leave. And this nurse sees and sense the fear in the family that this is really the end, as they hold on to everything they can to stay in control. Whose family asks the same questions multiple times during a 12 hour shift, seeking a different answer than they got the first time.

4. A patient who was admitted with venous status ulcers all over their calves. Who lives at home with home health changing the dressings daily, however the dressing were no longer white gauze and kerlex, they were brown from filth. Who, when in the ER had cockroaches crawling out of their clothes, and dead ones their body. Who refuses to go to a nursing home where they can have real help. Who has no family to advocate for them. Who had nurses practically refusing to have them on their assignment because of the cockroach issue. Who was totally alert and oriented just unable to care for themselves physically.

5. A patient who was virtually blind from diabetes, obese, and on dialysis. Who was left in a car while a spouse was shopping in a store. The heat was too much and they were brought by ambulance to the ER because they were unresponsive. Who's blood sugar was 50 in the ER. Who was mentally, not intact. Who was impulsive, out of control, and very difficult to care for. Who had diabetic ulcers on their feet that were dressed in week old dressings. Who didn't notice the stench when the dressings were removed and who couldn't feel their feet when the wounds were being cleaned and redressed. Who has already had most of their toes removed and will probably end up with complete foot amputations before it is over. Who needs to be in a nursing home instead of living at home with a spouse who can't care for even themselves. Who social services is now involved with.

6. A patient who was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Who thanked me each time I walked into their room. Who is slowly recovering and getting better after several days inpatient. Who will most likely go home with oxygen because they can't seem to keep their O2 levels high enough on their own. Who has an incredibly outlook on life. Who is 88 years old. Who didn't mind that there were labs to be drawn at 4am. Who smiled even when I said, "Your IV just went bad and I need to start a new one." Who made my day by telling me I was a great nurse and they hoped I was back for another shift. Who made my night totally worth it!!!

Nursing is my ministry and I am OK with that. However, what I have learned over the years is sometimes it is the patients who minister to me. Even when it is a bad day, even when the circumstances of my shift may bring tears to my eyes, whether tears of sadness or frustration. Even when I don't agree with the politics. Even when I am among the cliquishness and cattiness of some of the other staff. Even when . . . . .

I know I am in the place God wants me to be. I know this my ministry. I pray that God will use me in whatever way, to bring comfort to the people I care for each night. I pray that God will use me to be an example to those few co-workers who just can't see past themselves.

This is my ministry!



  1. Dear faithful nurse,
    I am moved by your compassion! I am overwhelmed with emotion for those poor unfortunate people. . .and very thankful they have someone, not just anyone, but you who waltzed into their lives, if only for one shift!
    You continue to amaze me with your heartwork!
    God bless you!

  2. Love this post. So true. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. One Nurse, I don't know how you do it. I have always said medical surgical nurses are the smartest nurses on the face of the earth...God bless you! BTW, you are tagged! Come by Mops and Pops Place to pick up your mission ...should you choose to accept it.. :)