I pondered whether to even write this blog. I mean there may be people who read this and realize; shit this is about me. Then I thought, heck I want you to know this is about you! More importantly, I want to enact change because as a nurse who is more of a patient now I want other nurses to realize the words you speak may negatively affect the very people you are supposed to advocate and care for.
I can honestly say that in the six years I have been a nurse I have always treated my families with the utmost respect and kindness. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean I didn't complain and bitch about certain situations. Let's be real, we don't always agree with the families we deal with but we respect their choices and, for one, I did not become a nurse to argue with people. If I wanted to do that I would have gone into law. I can still remember a shift where the diagnosis of cancer was made in a child. A sweet, young child. This to me, completely and utterly broke my heart because I knew the devastation this family would feel and the arduous treatments this poor child would go through if he survived. My bestie and I, who is also a nurse, tried to accommodate and speak with the family. Our shift was over, but that didn't mean we stopped caring because the clock showed us our shift was over. Then when we were finally ready to leave we sat in the locker room and cried. We both understood each other because both our hearts broke for this sweet and innocent child and his family. I have a conscience and if I would have left without doing anything it would have eaten away at me. Time is precious, and I understand we all have a life outside of work, however there are times and situations where you need to take your eye off the clock and look the families you care for in the eye and hold their hand through some of their darkest moments. I promise those extra five minutes will be remembered and etched in their minds forever, but you will quickly forget about getting home five minutes late.
Now, here comes my rant...
My husband heard a lot of choice words out of my mouth after my last Herceptin infusion. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the nurses in day medicine at the Tom Baker. I have always been treated with respect and I have always thought they were incredibly kind. Firstly, I do not have a port. I have seen numerous complications related to CVCs. I, personally, don't care how many times I get poked to get treatment. I DON'T want a port. I hydrate like crazy to help my veins "pop" up so they are primed for getting poked. Do my veins always cooperate? Nope, they sure don't! I still DON'T want a port. I have been on a pretty good role lately on getting IVs in on the first attempt. That was until my last Herceptin infusion.
It took six pokes to get an IV. Not ideal, however I know every nurse tried their best and I can't complain about that. It happens. Almost every nurse who tried went on to ask me if I wanted to get a port. Nope I sure don't. I'm knowledgable about CVCs, and guess what I still don't want one. For people who hate getting pokes then these lines seem quite ideal, however like I said before I don't care about getting poked. Now all the nurses who tried were very kind. Then out of nowhere a nurse, whom I have never seen before, yells over to me that I should get a port. At this point, I was getting a little sick of repeating myself but I told her I definitely don't want one right now. She decided to argue why I should get one and how in her twelve years of nursing she has only seen two complications. Well, this is where I was already over it and told her I had been a nurse for half that time and had seen three people die from complications related to their CVCs.
My odds never fall into the majority so the small risk of infection or potential for a clot are not worth it to me right now. I require infusions every three and four weeks. I am not getting blood draws daily or requiring chemotherapy, so to me I don't feel I need it. If she would have stopped talking at this point I would have been fine but she didn't. In case you didn't catch onto the theme as to whether I want a port, I DON'T. Once I told her that I didn't want one she basically told me in her exact words, "well then you may not be able to get treatment, and you won't have a choice but to get a port."
Firstly, I was completely offended! I understand that my infusions happen at the end of the day and people want to go home, but I'm sorry if I may have inconvenienced you. Since the highlight of my life is going to Tom Baker every three weeks for the rest of my life is what I envisioned. This sucks pretty significantly for ME. What bothered me was the way in which she worded it and her attitude delivering it. She did not say this sincerely to me because she felt bad for me getting poked numerous times, but rather because she wanted to go home and I was inconveniencing her. I'm sorry that I wasn't an "easy" patient. I'd hate to hear what you would tell a patient who codes! Would you let them know how much extra work you had to do to resuscitate them, and how much extra charting you had to do? Ha, just imagine what a hard day YOU had. I mean the person who required resuscitation had it easy, right? Would you argue with them when they woke up about why they had to flippin code on your shift?? I know plenty about ports. I am also a fellow nurse. You want to know why I don't want a damn port? Let me explain...
I have one tit and a six inch scar across my chest, my eyebrows never grew back to what they looked like pre-chemotherapy, I have constant hot flashes, and I get horrid pain in my sternum whenever the weather changes. The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is cancer. The last thing I think about when I go to bed is cancer. I am constantly reminded that I have cancer with every ache and pain. I DON'T need another reminder. Hence, I DON'T want a port. The fact that a nurse would threaten me that I wouldn't get treatment basically disgusted me. I come to Tom Baker for treatment for a disease that will kill me. I have a lot of crap on my plate, and I don't feel I should need to argue with someone who is supposed to care for me.
Next time you choose to argue with a patient maybe you should consider empathizing with them. I'm sorry if I delayed your evening of dancing or your drive to Edmonton, or whatever that was so important to you that you had to make a patient feel like shit. I know I can sleep at night knowing that I always put my patients first. I can probably count on one hand how many times I got to leave work on time, however I always left knowing I did all I could to make my patients as comfortable, and as cared for as possible.
Just as you remember the small acts of kindness, sadly you also remember the snippets of crap that impact you so negatively. I just needed to get this off my chest, and want everyone to know that just because I had one bad interaction does not mean that everyone is like this. In the past three years this is the only negative interaction I've ever had. I'm hoping it'll be the last! In case the message didn't get across I'll give one last reminder: I still DON'T want a port;)
"They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel"
My forced smile!!