March 25, 2014

A good nurse.

I can hardly describe to you my, or our, collective love for those who work at hospitals.  
It takes a village to heal and wow, my life has been abundantly blessed.

I recently watched a YouTube video where a friend who had shaved her head to support a friend with Breast Cancer described herself as "wanting to be another instrument in her healing orchestra."

As tragedies strike, doctors, nurses, CNA's, dietary, housekeeping, friends, and family members all become beautiful instruments of our healing orchestras.  This music heals us and creates us, in life and in death.  This is God's orchestra and I believe He is a divine composer.

I feel honored to have felt this power work in my life.
I love nurses.

Sure, I've experienced some doctors/nurses I haven't meshed with, not many.  We all have our days.  Even on our worst days, I have learned that  people help us to heal while anger and contention keep us hurting.  

Good nurses are competent or not to proud to get help!
The best nurses listen FIRST, ask great (non-repetitive) questions, and tell you what they've learned.  You don't have to be the best poke, just know who the best poke is.  

Nurses who truly desire to heal, are not trying to be right, they are helping you to find right.
Wise nurses know that patients must listen to their gut.  As captain collaborators, these nurses offer understanding and options.  I have often (almost hourly) questioned my nurses, but rarely (if ever) fought them.  A beautiful patient/nurse relationship feels like a team not a competition.

In memory, my small trauma ICU room was as close to a holy of holy, Zion place, as any temple has ever felt to me. Two nurses, doctors, round the clock family members, angels, and one very sick little body, worked together in harmony.  Heaven's veil was thin and my nurses were my sisters.
PS- Male nurses surprised me!  I thought they'd be more femine.  But, they're almost like nurse firemen. They are strong and gentle, methodical and kind.  They usually smell really good and have great hands.  (Why don't I have more pictures of my good male nurses?)  

Good nurses tidy up!
Nurses make a mess sometimes.  Go ahead, make a mess being extra sanitary for a blood draw, and then leave the room cleaner than you found it.  Yes!  You can throw away the used tissues or return the five hour old lunch tray.  
Good nurses straighten the counters and take an extra minute to clean adhesive marks or dried blood off a patient's arm.
Cleanliness and order aids healing.
Good nurses are real!
Talk to me while you work on me!  Connecting at both physical and emotional levels heals.  Repetitive, caring tasks leaves time for holy communion. Bond while you serve. 
Love and friendshipping are true healers.
Good nurses are detailed!
The best nurses act with confidence.  They get you a new gown, fresh water, move the chair, anticipate the shower.  It is fun to visit, but better to visit while they are doing things to make you feel better!
Gentle serving while calming and uplifting is almost magical in that one feels better without even knowing when or how the change took place.  

Remember-- the little, repetitive things are the hardest- dressing changes, blood pokes, etc.  Compassion with the little things really compensates for big life/death hard things. 
I had a compassionate IV Therapy nurse bring me two bottle of adhesion remover.  It was the kindest thing.  Surgeons would come check on my open belly wound daily and rip the bandages off, it was AWFUL.  I can't tell you how much it meant to me that an IV nurse cared enough to help.
There is great peace in a nurse who notices and acts on details- that peace of mind clears worry and makes room for healing.  You just trust you are in good hands and you feel better.
Good nurses are cheerful and hopeful!
You actually feel bright, hopeful nurses lifting your spirits.  Personally, I think laughter is as essential to healing as those dumb potassium pills.  Smile, tease, lighten the air!
Good nurses are funny-- laughter is healing!
Nurses heal bodies and souls.

Good nurses speak with optimistic, empathetic truth!
Please, be honest and careful with the things you say.  
Avoid qualitative statements like "This only hurts a little bit."  Especially if you have never experienced it yourself.  Describe, acknowledge and encourage.  

"It will take me about one minute to insert this catheter, I've done this many times, I am numbing you up as we speak.  It will hurt.  It is usually tolerated well.  I feel good about this.  Tell me when you're ready."

Instead of "this isn't that bad" try- "patients seem to tolerate this well."

Do NOT apologize or feel that you need to apologize for pain. (Well, unless you throw a bed pan at me or something.)  
My pain is a result of MY trial.  YOU are helping me to heal not hurting me.

We do not need pity, we need empathy, hope, and encouragement as we endure.

Watch your words, recognizing where the hard comes from.
"This must be so hard.  It is frustrating not knowing what is coming.  Chronic pain is awful.  I'm so sorry you're hurting.  Dang! I wish I had gotten that IV the first time.  I wish I could give you blood in pill form, but these veins are all we've got."  

See how that is different from "I'm sorry I hurt you?" 

Feeling empathy for a patient is different than feeling the need to apologize for something you have done.  You didn't make my veins small and hard to find.

Remember-- YOU are helping not hurting.  THANK YOU for taking my temperature and blood pressure 100 times a day.  You're not doing that because you're bored.  You're doing that to SAVE MY LIFE. 
To keep SANE patients must learn to dissociate pain with the idea that someone else is hurting us.

Panic comes as we fear another person hurting us-- gratitude comes as we remember nurses and doctors are helping us, even as they cause pain.

Most of the time pain is the path to healing.

When nurses apologize or act defensive of difficulty, delay or discomfort, then it is easy for us to blame you, be mad at you or be angry at you.  You are not the problem- our own health issues are the problem.
Does this make sense??

The only way I can NOT be ticked off at a nurse that misses my IV again and again is by reminding myself that this nurse is TRYING to help me.  My anger is not going to help her.  I always feel like my role is to help the nurse feel confident and not nervous so she can do her job the best way she knows how.  I can imagine, feeling frustrated just makes poking veins harder.

My favorite blood sucking nurse this go around, had a reputation for being able to get blood from difficult veins.  He was careful and deliberate as he checked my arms.  (My veins are so scarred they are very hard to draw blood from.) As I was praising him for being the best, he avoided over-confidence by responding in his deep African/English accent, "I try to do my best so you do not need to get poked more than once."  Good, humble, healing words.  I felt his strong compassion without pity.
You hurt me because you love me and you went to school for years to try and save my life.  Love me, empathize with me, grieve with me, but please don't apologize for helping me.

Yes, let your soul sit near mine and feel my grief- and then continue to help heal me.  God uses many hands and hearts to perform miracles.  You are a stitch in the tapestry of my healing.

Oh, one more thing.  Good nurses are very careful how they interpret difficulty.  I had many non-stress tests while on bed rests.  My baby was active and difficult to keep on a monitor.  My favorite nurses would giggle with me saying "This little guy is so strong!  What a fun, healthy, active baby."  
Contrast this to the nurses who would say, "Oh, he's a trouble maker already.  He thinks it's funny to make these things hard for you, etc.."  
No.   Be careful how you speak about things- my baby, my body, my veins, my luck, my future.  See the good!!
(This is me with my favorite lactation consultant, Soule.  Anticipating my c-section/hysterectomy I was nervous that I would not be able to nurse my preemie baby.  She taught me that mother's milk is so good for preemies and testified that my body would know exactly what my baby needed.  Her confidence gave me confidence and peace.  Being able to nurse my baby in the midst of huge health trials was a miracle that came about because of a wise lactation consultant.)
Good nurses can find the bright side of ANY procedure.  It is easy to slip into a "poor me" mentality.  The best nurses emphasize the positive of every turn of events.
Nurses help!  Good nurses don't feel the need to apologize for the service they are giving.  Good nurses help patients see the progress in the daily difficulties of life.
Good nurses have a healing touch!
I think a healing touch is a physical manifestation of a spiritual gift.  I believe some are born with it, some develop it.  It is real.  I felt healing hands keeping my spirit in my body.  When you don't know what to do-- touch someone you love.  Hug them, shake their hand, or my favorite- hold their hand.

Good nurses touch naturally.  They caress your cheek, wipe your brow, rub your back, squeeze your arm.  We have physical bodies so that we can do good ACTS with them.  

I can't remember the physical pain of waking up in the trauma ICU after receiving 200 units of blood- but I remember the intensity of comfort I received from one loving, faithful, powerful grasp of hands.  I remember intense comfort as nurses shifted my aching body, stuck a tube down my nose for nausea, rubbed my feet and hands.  I remember IV Therapy always using litocain and doctors who removed my stomach bandages with compassion.

When you are drowning in pain positive physical touch is essential!!  Don't apologize after an awful internal jugular insertion, just take a moment and squeeze your patients arm- mentally sending them your powerful, loving, all healing touch.

(I do this with my kids, too.  When I don't know what to say, I touch them and let them hear my heart.)

Nurses (and CNA's) are the best!

That's all.
I'm certain nurses learn much about hospital protocol, medicine scheduling, wound repair, etc.  And, those things are so important.
But, nurses who nurture with skill are irreplaceable.

As I came back from the dead, I felt the hand of God as gentle nurses stroked my head, rubbed my feet, and held my hair back as I threw up.

I heard the voice of God as wise, faithful nurses encouraged me, cheered me up, and prayed for me.

I walked with God, first from the top of my bed to the end of my bed, and then to the bathroom, and then down the hall, and then around the hallway circle. 

I felt God with me as nurses held me up, gave me strength, had hope that I could go one more step, and stood near me to steady me when I was faint.  

I saw God's eyes as I looked deep into my nurses eyes asking if I was OK.  I saw hope in their eyes, I felt experience and wisdom.  They loved me and they knew I could heal.  So did God.

Nurses have access to heavenly assistance as they serve the weakest among us.

I love nurses.

I'm grateful for the nurses in my life who first saw me as a patient, and then as a neighbor, and then as a friend, and then as a sister.
I'm alive because of nurses.  
Good, good nurses make life better.
I know it. 
PS-  I have to add here at the end that EVERY nurse can be a good nurse.  Nurses, like patients, are humans who respond to kindness.  Patients and visitors who treat nurses well, will feel the goodness around them.  Patients and visitors who are aggressive and rude, will have a very different hospital experience than I did.  (Because I'm nice, obviously. haha)  I actually love trying to CRACK a tough nurse.  Every nurse has a good-side.


Anonymous said...

I think this is the best tribute to nurses I've read since becoming a nurse in 1982.
You have captured the essence of the spirit of every nurse who is a nurse for the 'right reasons'.
I am grateful that God has sustained you so well through the last Year+ that you have still been able to look beyond your own suffering to really notice and appreciate the nurses who have cared for you.
I'm going to share today's blog with nurses I've worked with over the years -- it will inspire them to keep doing what they do so well - work with God to help heal each person entrusted to their care.
Thank YOU so much for sharing this.

Philomath is on spring break this week; we had three glorious days of sunshine, then the rains returned last night and will last a while...
Matthew is in a soft C-collar after a bad landing on Nate's trampoline 10 days ago :-( He missed the first tennis match but should be ready for the next one.
Is Jakob doing track? We sure miss him!!
Your family remains in our thoughts and prayers - I'm grateful you blog so I can get updates on 'Family Moss'
Please give Benjamin a nuzzle for me.
May God bless each and all of you!

Deborah Williams
(aka: Matthew's grandma)

Shauna Thompson said...

I SO needed this tonight! I'm studying to get my nursing license reinstated and it is SO hard! I shouldn't have ever let it expire, but kids and life got busy. With Jerrica going full day next year, I decided I wanted to go back to work. I hesistated with the thought of going into teaching, but with all said and done I really want to do nursing again. That's where I want to be when my kids have left home. I LOVE working and learning from people. Your post made me excited to get back into it! I just hope that I can pass the test!!!

Shauna Thompson said...

BTW I think it's awesome that you took pictures with all of these sweet nurses. I can't believe how many nurse pictures you have!

Montserrat Wadsworth said...

You have truly been served by a whole army of ministering angels! I loved reading this post.

Jenifer Moss said...

Debra and Shauna- you are two women who have been or will be beautiful nurses.
Montse- seriously! I can't even tell you how many kind, kind people have blessed my life this year. These pictures just touch the surface.
I really do love these good people.

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