Well, somebody likes their job, I must say.
Although I can’t figure out why she is smiling.
Her cap looks like conjoined coffee filters!
Conjoined coffee filters that somebody sat on!
Maybe she doesn’t realize it’s squished, and would die of embarrassment if she knew!
The emergency department “regular”.
Every emergency department has them.
A patient can become a “regular” for many reasons. Maybe they are a recurrent cardiac patient. Perhaps they suffer from chronic pain. Sometimes, they become a “regular” because they utilize the ER as a clinic and bring the whole family in over the course of a month. Some regulars are drug seekers. Others are homeless and know they can find respite in the department for at least a couple of hours and maybe get something to eat.
If you work in an emergency department long enough, you will know who they are.
And you will get to know them.
Recently, it dawned on me just how well you get to know them.
I work in a community hospital. It’s one of those hospitals that patients actually request to go to from all over the county. We have our shifts from hell, but it is far from the county-trauma-eight-hour-wait-time environment of the huge medical centers. There is time to talk to the patients, find out more about them than what hurts, what is swollen or what prescription they have lost.
Over time, the conversation stops being scripted and “starts getting real”, as they say.
This particular shift was steady, but not crazy. And almost all the patients I cared for were “regulars”. Easily 90%. For some, it was their usual health issue. For others, something different.
I found out a lot that night over the course of that shift
Someone’s youngest would be starting kindergarten in September; someone’s oldest had just graduated from high school. Someone had gotten into a recovery program and had been clean for a month. Someone had just welcomed their first grandchild, another was mourning the loss of their mom the week before. Someone had lost their job earlier in the week. Someone had gotten married since their last visit. A baby sister was on the way for one of my patients. Another patient had enrolled in the local junior college.
We saw them, treated them and sent them on their way with a wave and a prescription.
Hopefully they left in better shape then they arrived, even if all they needed was reassurance.
All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed that shift.
I had done all the usual things. Saline locks, blood draws. Medications and re-evaluations. IVs and education.
But I had also congratulated success, commiserated over frustrations and offered consolation over losses. We covered birth and death, struggles and successes, dropping old lifestyles and starting new beginnings.
That shift, I saw my patients in a different light.
The best part of nursing has nothing to do with disease or diagnoses or procedures or prescriptions.
The best part of nursing is the patients themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with my “regulars”.
I hope I was therapeutic for them.
They were most certainly therapeutic for me.
*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*