I have been very fortunate to have had an encouraging and skilled preceptor while in school, and now I have the same at my new grad job in the ER. I only work with her for 10 hours every other week, but she is there to talk things out and keep me grounded, I am so very thankful to have her. This weekend she told me she was leaving the hospital, commuting was getting to be too much for her.
Monday was my mothers birthday, had she been alive she would have been 55. She died of cancer, and as a single mother I was there with her, just us, through everything. So it was a bit difficult when one of my favorite patients came to check back in, our terminal cancer patient. Her adult daughter is aware of the prognosis, but the patient and her husband will not accept it. Her daughter had been down here, away from her family and children to help for the past 6 weeks, and was struggling with wanting to go home, and needing to be here by her mother’s side. It was all too close to home for me.
The doctor we were working with this weekend was awful. I mean grade A Douche. He was condescending, rude, and generally wrong. My many years as a server, and stint as a SNF nurse prepared me for dealing with grade-A douches. But this weekend my tolerance was running low. Very low.
There’s more, a lot more clinical crap with the worlds worst doctor that made me constantly infuriated. But the important part of the story is my next patient that came in.
A tooth abscess. I understand it hurts, but it’s not a damn ER visit, GO TO THE DAMN DENTIST! (easier said than done in a town without a dentist.) She was rude, and frustrating. And she didn’t like the antibiotic and pain meds the doc prescribed. Because, “If it’s the green ones, I don’t want them”. I got frustrated and just walked out of the room before I said something I shouldn’t. Then I remembered some advice my preceptor had given me (the one from nursing school) just a few days before, “ No matter how bad your day is going, it can’t be any worse than your patients day, see if you can’t turn it around for the both of you!” So I tried. I changed the antibiotic for her, but still couldn’t get the doc to change the pain med, then I marched back into her room. I sat down next to her and said I was sorry. I gave her her prescriptions, and listened. She was going to court the next day and was worried that she would be going to jail, and wanted to make sure she could bring her meds to jail with her if that was where she was going. So I told here, “There is nothing I can do, and I don’t know what you are going through, but I hope it gets better soon.” She smiled, said, “that means a lot”. She thanked me and left.
I needed some caffeine. I went to the soda machine to get a mountain dew and saw my cancer patient’s daughter sitting there. I asked if she was ok. She wasn’t. She didn’t know what to do, her son’s birthday was coming up, but she wanted to be there when her mother died. So I listened again, and let her get it out. Then I said the only thing I knew to say, I told her she was a good daughter, she had been doing everything she could, and no matter what her decision, make sure there are no loose ends between her and her mother. Make sure her mom knows how she feels, tell her she loves her. And that’s when a call came over the loudspeaker for all nurses to the ER (there’s a total of 3 of us during the busy times). So off I ran to the next emergency.