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Posted 8 months ago
Vulnerable Patient, Frustrated Nurse
"light" that goes off to alert us to life. It’s as though I woke up one day and decided that it was time to grow up and 40 was as good a time as any. As a nurse, I know this is the age where we start the dreaded testing...full physical, mammogram, colonoscopy,
etc., so I decided to schedule all of the above.
Try seeing through a patient’s eyes sometime. I have recently undergone several tests and have experienced the other side. It is frustrating to know the reasoning behind the test and the possibility of the results from a medical standpoint, yet being completely
vulnerable from the patient standpoint. It is extremely difficult to lay on a table and undergo an ultrasound, yet not see the screen or have the tech be able to tell you what they see. You know as a nurse that the tech can't tell you, yet you also know that they are
experienced enough to know if something isn't right. It is like the patient in you lays there vulnerable at the hands of the medical world, while the nurse in you is frustrated because you know the terminology, legality of confidentiality, and you want to know right
Same thing with a mammogram...as a patient, you are vulnerable and exposed. As a nurse, you are again frustrated, because if you could just see the screen you could get an idea for yourself what looks normal and what doesn't. You aren't thinking about being
exposed or of the discomfort involved, you are focusing on getting a glimpse at that screen.
I think nurses make the worst patients because of all of this. Nurses know how long it typically takes to get results. They also know the path the results take before your physician reads them. I have found myself getting more than a little agitated with patients
and their family members for their persistence in calling for results. Now I am that person. Honestly, I think I am worse because I call the hospital and ask if the Radiologist has read the report, and if so, request that they fax my physician immediately. I then call
my physician and let her know the results are coming via fax, and call back in less than an hour.
I now truly understand the wise words of a resident I cared for. A retired RN, Mrs. Hutton, told me, "knowing the outcome possibilities of your own illness makes things harder to deal with." She recently passed on and, until now, I never knew how that could
be possible. It is almost as if you are pre-planning the next phase of your disease process, kind of like care planning yourself every day. Now I wonder if ignorance isn't somewhat bliss. I think that the unknown is often better unknown. I now stop to look back
at all the medical professionals I personally know that have health issues yet refuse to follow through with treatment. Perhaps in a sense, they don't want to know. I am not saying it is right to not follow through with check-ups and physicals, I just thought maybe
someone could relate to the fact, as I have recently, that nurses don't take care of themselves because being the vulnerable patient/frustrated nurse is harder to handle than the acknowledgement of reality.