Recently someone on my local Ehler's Danlos support group posted a blog that was written by an ER nurse in Texas. She made a list of people who shouldn't come to the ER. People who waste her time. People who she doesn't believe have legitimate reasons to even be in the ER. She called the people on her list idiots. She declared that whatever was wrong with them was their fault.
She wrote with disdain. Disgust.
If you did a quick search on Facebook you could find her. If you scrolled down you could see where she posted the blog to her personal page. If you clicked on the comments you could see that fellow nurses chimed in. One nurse has a problem with you if your bra and underwear don't match.
All of them cheered her on. Encouraged her. Congratulated her.
There was a new blog posted in the last day or so. I think perhaps a result of her hospital being notified of what she wrote. She insisted that the list of patients that she hates to treat was pure sarcasm.
Nurse humor she called it.
She asserted that those who were hurt by it just didn't understand. She talked about how much she loves her job. How she appreciates the patients she can quickly help.
I don't doubt that she loves her job. I don't doubt that she gets a rush from the criticals that come in. I don't doubt that it's hard when she looses a patient.
But I doubt she's really sorry about what she wrote.
And I doubt that she really understands the impact of what she said.
But I'll still show her compassion, and grace, and mercy anyway.
And I'm also going to tell all of you why what was said was so hurtful. Because it's not just some ER nurses that decide some people deserve empathy while some don't. It's prevalent in the medical community. And sometimes it's even prevalent in the families of these patients.
Do you know what it's like to live in pain? Real, legitimate, pain? Pain that is constant?
Do you know what it's like to see the pain scale and try to determine where you fit - because at a 5 you still find the ability to smile? Because 5 is your normal.
Do you know what it's like to live in pain but NOT be able to take pain meds because if you do you can't take care of your family? Or work?
Do you know what it's like to take a Tylenol, not because it will touch your pain, but because you're just hoping it will take the edge off a little?
Do you know what it's like to get confused, to not be able to think of the right words to say, and to just play it off as ADHD so people don't think you are dumb?
Do you know what it's like to forget simple things at the very moment when you are being expected to retrieve them?
Do you know what it's like to wake up from 9 hours of sleep, and to feel like you didn't sleep at all? To wake up and pray that you can find the energy to just roll out of bed and start the day? To find the nearest clean clothes and just hope they work together and that no one pops by to say "hi"?
Do you know what it's like to be sitting as the passenger in a car, and have the driver hit a bump too fast, only to have your hip shift out of place... and to not say a word?
Do you know what it's like to know that the next cardiac pain you feel could be the one that ends up killing you?
Do you know what it feels like to have a terrible headache and not knowing if the connective tissue in your brain has finally given up? But being too afraid to go to the ER again because it could just be nothing...again... and the last time you went in and it was nothing the staff treated you like you were just over reacting? Even though your treating Dr. has made it clear that you go if you have a bad headache or any cardiac pain... because it's that serious.
My guess is you don't. Because if you did you wouldn't have written what you did. You wouldn't mock the patients that come in looking for help because they are scared and worried.
You know how many times I've avoided the ER? Lots. You know why?
Because I'm afraid of ER nurses like you. I'm terrified of being judged.
I'm more afraid of how you might treat me then I am of dying.
But you were just being sarcastic.
You want to know why most pain patients smile while describing their pain?
Because we if we don't smile we cry.
And if we give in to the tears the pain won.
The fear won.
And the pain can't win.
The fear can't win.
That's why we came to you.
I know that I'm not as heart pumping as a code, or as interesting as a break. But I came to you because I'm scared. Because I'm hurting. Because I need help. Because for me, it is an emergency.
And you know what? I agree. It's not your fault.
And I won't treat you like it is.
But it's not my fault either.
So don't treat me like it is.
And if you get a chance, reread the Nurse's Code of Ethics developed by the ANA.
You might want to start with Provision 1.
The one that talks about human dignity.