Jul 14, 2012

Grace Under Fire

I took care of a wonderful lady yesterday, Mrs. P. She is 72, sick, with a broken bone. She came to us from a sister facility to have a PICC line inserted. This is a special IV that lasts for weeks and is good for long term antibiotics, etc.

It's also good for patients who are "hard sticks." If you're a nurse, you know what I mean. If you're a patient like this, you know who you are.

According to her, before coming to us she'd been stuck 30 times. 30! With an IV needle.

Her voice cracked when she told me the story. She swallowed over and over, trying not to cry. I felt like crying for her. My heart broke a little with each detail she gave.

"I try not to complain" she said. "Usually I don't say anything, but it hurt." Then she quoted the policy of most institutions- "And I know," she said, "You are only allowed to stick 2 times on each side." Why so many sticks- I don't know, I really don't, but it's not something I would do.

Picture it. Your grandmother, being brave, because she knows she needs the IV. Over and over. Thirty sticks.

Normally this makes me mad. Nurses are patient advocates, and it is our JOB to protect you and be your voice when you are hospitalized. This time, beside wanting to cry and having to step away for a minute, I marvelled at how brave and strong she was! This woman was one. tough. cookie.

During the procedure, I spoke with her. I rubbed her shoulder. I brushed her hair back from her face. I whispered in her ear. I asked about her "old duffer" of 55 years, her family, her pets. I tried to take her mind off of things. In the end, we were successful. It tooks was a long procedure. She was a trooper.

When we moved her to the stretcher, she thanked us. She was teary-eyed, tired, hungry. She said "I love you girls." In that moment, she loved us for the care we gave her. For the attention, for the thoughfulness, and for the comfort.  I loved her spirit and fortitude. I loved her big heart. I loved her grace.

Thank you Mrs. P, for another life lesson. It's an honor to know you.

Hugs, Lee


Jennifer said...

What a moving story Lee! Being a hard stick myself I'm stunned that poor Mrs.P had to go through that! I'm so glad you were able to help here and give some peace! I'd love to have you as a nurse! :o)

Bettsi McComb said...

What a great thing to hear about. The only time I've been a patient (Thank you, Lord) is when I had my babies, but I remember how IMPORTANT the nurses were to me. The brusque ones made me feel like a pain in the ass and the kind ones relieved my stress a thousand times over. I'm glad you took so much time and care with Mrs. P and I'm glad she inspired you. Your job is hard; it's important to get that good feedback.

Lisa said...

that's hugely painful and just crazy...poor lady! more hospitals need to staff phlebotomists..especially for young children and older folks. kudos to you for your wonderful bedside manner...I'm sure she felt better afterwards!