Life Lesson #25 – It saddens me every time I see a nurse who has become hardened by time and exhaustion. Remember that your patient is vulnerable and illness, stress, pain - almost every deviance from normal and comfort can manifest as sadness, irritation, anger and, yes, ungratefulness. Remember that if you can no longer be understanding to every patient that comes onto the unit, then, perhaps it is time for a change, for self-reflection. A nurse without compassion is like the sun without its light.
I know some will disagree and will scramble to give examples of how wrong or narrow-minded or ignorant I may seem from the above paragraph. Before you judge, know that I don’t judge others. It frustrates me, angers me, saddens me, but I don’t judge them because I am in no way perfect. Before you judge, know that the above is just as much a reminder to myself as to everyone out there. Before you judge, know that I work with a patient population that many have turned their backs on, given up on, a population that many think don’t deserve to have a nurse.
I work in mental health. I am a nurse, police officer, a parole officer, a maid, a laundress, a guidance counsellor, a social worker – all in one. I have been shoved, pinched, spat at, slapped, punched, kicked in an assortment of locations on my body, sometimes all in one day. I have worn bruises like badges, gotten blood work when my skin is broken and the occupational health department knows my face to my name. Just last summer I was on modified duties for an extender period of time, a majority of the time I was pulled from the unit for safety’s sake.
But, still, compassion is the backbone of my practice.