Monday, August 19, 2013

Entering the TwiNurse Zone: What Happens When Nurse Turns Patient?

Do not attempt to adjust your computer screen, we have taken control… You are now traveling through another dimension of healthcare, a dimension not of passing meds and cleaning bed pans, but of the mind; a journey into a bewildering land of your own medical care. Next stop, the TwiNurse Zone! 

Do nurses really make the worst patients?  What happens when we’re on the other side of the bed and receiving rather than giving care?   Well, we can’t speak for everyone because there are so many different personalities and cultures in nursing that it’s unfair to generalize about all nurses; however, from what we have seen, it’s a very different feeling being on the other side… 

Consider Nurse Able, once an able bodied nurse capable of tackling everything that the medical world could throw at her, but now she finds that she herself has become… the patient.  Will her medical training really make her experience better, or will she find that her greatest challenge is not one of the body, but of the mind…  Come with us as we explore some of the common myths about nurses on the other side of the bed through Nurse Able’s journey into the TwiNurse Zone.

Myth #1Knowing everything will make it better

“Does my nursing expertise make everything better? Ha, sometimes it seems like it just makes everything worse!  No sooner do I feel a slight twinge in my mid back than I think I have a kidney infection.  Or, I have a side ache in my RLQ and I start checking for rebound tenderness just to make sure I’m not having an attack of appendicitis.  I even once had a doctor tell me to stop examining myself when I was describing the symptoms I was having!  So, yes it’s nice to understand all the medical jargon and how the medical world works, but sometimes it’s just more nerve wracking knowing all the possible things that could be going wrong.  It’s times like that when I have to remind myself that God’s ultimately in charge and that I need to trust His plan for my life, even if I do end up with a massive kidney infection that leads to multi-organ failure that leads to being stuck on dialysis for the rest of my life. (Exaggerated, I know… but once you’ve seen some of the strange things that people go through, you’ll never be the same).”

Myth #2 - You understand everything that the doctor is saying

“Understand everything?  Not quite… When I’m with a patient as a nurse, I can understand where the doctor is coming from and what they’re trying to explain.  But, for some reason, when it comes to my own body or that of my family, all reason, training and logic seem to fly out the window.  Sometimes, I just go senseless; suddenly I have no idea how to take care of myself or of my family.  

“Half the time, I debate about whether or not to share that I’m a nurse because I really wish they’d just explain everything as if I didn’t know anything!  But, then again, I want the more in depth explanation because it’s my body, so I need to know exactly how everything works.  It’s hard, but at times like that, I’ve realized that I just need to swallow my pride and admit that no, in fact, I don’t know everything there is to know about medicine.  Things are just different on the other side of the bed, especially when you are receiving treatment in an area that is not your specialty.”

Myth #3 - You’re always judging the actions of other healthcare professionals

“Judging?  That’s just a harsh term, but I guess I understand a little where that one came from.  Since I’m a nurse, I know there’s a reason that certain things are done the way they are, and I need to stand up for myself or my family if things are not being done correctly.  I try to keep my mouth shut out of respect and understanding that some people practice differently, but when someone is endangering my health by not being careful or performing a test incorrectly (which might mess up the results that the doctor is looking for…), I speak up. 

“It’s not about wanting to feel superior, but about wanting to make sure things are done right.  If you don’t know how things are supposed to be done, then you don’t know to question.  But I’ve had nurses as patients and they have made me feel incredibly nervous.  Just inserting an IV, I’m praying that I get it right away so that I don’t have to make them feel any worse!  So, yes, in a way I’m watching what is done, but I’m also trying to go about it with an understanding of what it’s like to be the nurse performing the care.”

Myth #4 - Advocating for yourself should be a breeze

“Well, yes and no.  I have cringed about calling the doctor many times regarding issues with my own body because I don’t want to bother them unless it’s absolutely necessary.  As a patient, I really tried not to bother the staff, and I almost even felt guilty to press my call light for help!  After all, I’m one of those who will heplock my own IV or apply pressure to my own arterial bleed if you give me half a chance!  However, it does help to have a medical background because you have a better understanding of the seriousness of different concerns and when it really is important to stand up for yourself or your family member.”

Nurse Able, an able bodied nurse who experienced the disabling effects disease can have on the nursing mindset.  Nurse Able, a wise professional who took the experience of being a patient to look closely at the life on the other side of the bed in the TwiNurse Zone.

Medical Morals to Remember –

·         When teaching a nurse, perhaps start by asking them what they know first instead of assuming that they understand everything that’s going on with them.  Then, adjust your teaching plan from there.
·         When you’re the patient, treat your nurses with understanding, but don’t be afraid to bother them if you need help or have a question about the treatment you’re receiving.
·         Consider having someone else at your side to help you advocate for yourself and to ask the questions that need to be asked.
·         Give 100% of your patience, kindness and passion to everyone in your care, whether nurse or not, because you never know when it will be you or your family member on the other side of the bed.

Have you ever been there?  Do nurses really make the worst patients?  What morals have you learned from your experiences either taking care of nurses or being the patient?

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