A nurse. Most people know generally what nurses do. A lot have had one care for them at some point in their life. It almost goes without explanation the role they have when we get sick. As I was walking up the darkened hallway on the ward during a nightshift, I was suddenly hit with a few realisations of things I have learnt while being a nurse. Sure, I have picked up clinical skills, and how to do ‘this’, or to do ‘that’. But do you want to know all that really stands out during every shift, the highlight reel of things learnt? Here they are:
- When someone is in pain, the pain is all they see or can focus on.
- Our educator that cries when she sees us crying at the loss of a patient is one of the most precious memories I have in my mind right now.
- Even when there is so much poop, and wee, and vomit all in one place, there is something that will help us laugh and get through the shift. Also, what is more important, is that we don’t actually mind. We just want to get that person comfortable and clean again.
- Nursing feels almost like it must feel to be buddies in war. You experience and share things that are not able to be explained to anyone outside of the work place.
- You still want to share those things with people not working in the profession, just to go, yep, the body is a crazy beautiful mess.
- Just when you think nothing will push the boundaries anymore, there is always something that surprises you.
- We have a lot to cry about as a nurse. A lot of sad situations and patients that we have grown attached to. Therefore, sometimes even the choir that arrives on Sunday on the ward, that sings our father’s favourite hymn, is enough to undo us and have our tears flowing.
- It means nothing to go 8-10 hours without even thinking about having a pee.
- Sometimes even that long without taking a sip of water.
- Without planning to, your whole day revolves around what has happened at work, or what we weren’t able to achieve. We fret about that glass of water five hours after the shift that we forgot to give to our patient because we got too caught up in something else.
- We contemplate quitting and changing our job to sell pineapples on a Pacific Island. Then we realise we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
- We care a lot for our patients, and go out of our way for each patient in our care. So when we leave the hospital, we are often showing empty on our ‘give-a-shit’ tank.
- It sometimes becomes a competition, about who cares the most. Reality is, we all do. Sometimes it’s more for one and less for the other. However, it all averages out and the patients become like our family that we are looking after each shift.
- Not everyone can do this job. And that’s okay too. Because the ones that are in the profession, know that and give it their all.
I do love being a nurse. I know the people I work next to feel the exact same. Some days are not as easy as other days. We definitely need time away from the ward. Yet, we are always ready to return, and willing each shift to be present and give what we can.
It will be a long way away before robots are able to do what we do…