Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Belated Birthday

Note: This is a few days late. I have been busy with Mother's Day, work, and life.



For those of you who do not know who the above lady is, let me educate you.

Born May 12, 1820 to affluent British parents in Florence, Italy. She grew to buck tradition, and her family, and became a nurse. This was unseemly at the time for a proper British lady of her stature. Florence always brushed this off, saying that she was called by God to nursing.

She went on to further the stature and practice of nursing in the Crimean War.

Finally in 1860 she formed the first secular nursing school in the world at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, making Florence Nightingale the most prominent person in founding my present profession.

For more info, read her Wiki page here.

While some still look upon a man in nursing as being a little suspect or even charming, I unashamedly pay homage to the founder of my profession.

As some may remember, my grandmother died last August. She was in and out of the hospital over the last couple of years of her life. My dad always sang the praises of the nurses caring for her. He even took a couple of big bags of popcorn up as a snack one night for them. (Note: if you want to thank a nurse, give food. We love food).

At the end she was in the hospital and on a ventilator - a breathing machine for life support.

I went to see her one last time and spent the afternoon in the room with her. I got back home, we live across the state, and talked to my father on the phone and he decided - with the blessing of my Physician brother and I and the rest of our family - to withdraw life-support. We all agreed that she was not going to recover and we were only prolonging her life and possible discomfort.

I got some sleep and then drove back across the state to be with my family when they withdrew the ventilator later that day.

Through all of this I was on the other side of the health care relationship. I am always the one with the answers. Always there to help ease a family into their decision and help them deal with the consequences of this choice. Always there with assurances that they did the right thing, it was what their loved one would want, they're at peace now, etc.

Sitting there in the room with no control over the situation and no tasks to perform, I only had time to sit back and watch the nurses.

I am never one to blow my own horn. In fact, it is one of the reasons I have not furthered my career from being "just a nurse". I am a charge nurse and would rather my staff get the credit. In my mind I am just dong my job.

Sitting there in my grandmother's room I was amazed at what an incredible service we provide for our patients. However I am perceived at the end of my career, I will always be indebted to those who serve now and those who came before me.

Thank a nurse the next time you have the occasion and join me in wishing Florence Nightingale a belated birthday, she left an incredible legacy in all who wear the uniform.

14 comments:

Brooke said...

Even though I am just a lowly STNA now doing HHC, I have worked OB and ER which was a lot more technical, I can say that Nightingale is an inspiration. As the right hand of a nurse (And sometimes correcting newbie RN's) it is good to make some minute difference.

God bless you and your Grandma. You'll see her again!

cube said...

The two times I was a patient (giving birth to my daughters), I was very glad that nurses cared for my every need. As far as I'm concerned, they were angels on earth to me when I couldn't do for myself.

This August, my little girl is going away to college to be one.

Chuck said...

Brooke, I will never work OB ;). I worked as a tech when I was in school, you work your butt off.

Cube, good luck to your daughter. It is a great job if you like it.

Brooke said...

Cube: Good luck to your girl!

Chuck: Every time I've had to be hospitalized (Once for a splenectomy, once for a lt. humerus repair, and once for SVT.) The RN's and techs were fantastic!

My 10 y/o just told me the other day that she wants to join the Army or Marines to be a combat RN, and then go into orthopedics! Awwwww Yeeeeeaaaaah!

Right Wing Theocrat said...

Nice post Chuck, thanks for your insight.

Always On Watch said...

Note: if you want to thank a nurse, give food. We love food

I'll have to remember that!

Brooke said...

Especially night shift workers! :)

Chuck said...

Brooke, SVT - that can't be a fun feeling. As to the military, that's a good gig. I went into nursing as a second career. I wish I would have had the option of the military route. Good way to get college paid for too.

Mk, thanks

Brooke, they are a different breed

Chuck said...

AOW, it is the gospel truth. We of course like verbal thank yous but the route to a nurses heart is through the stomach. Chocolate is usually absorbed quickest.

All kidding aside, I think it makes it more personal. It says that you cared enough to go get something.

An alternate example is when my Ma & Dad were on a cruise. They gave the usual gratuities. One girl did an especially good job for them. My Dad, sensing that most of her money went back to whatever third world country she was from, gave her a small stuffed animal as a gift just for her. She never stopped beaming the rest of the trip.

Brooke said...

I wish I could've gone through the Guard. That splenectomy got me a medical before I made it all the way through basic, but after months of preview/drilling.

I'm so proud of my little girl! She's thinking and planning. A couple of years in the service and she won't have to deal with ginormous student loans and can have a career either way.

I'm not sure what sparked the interest in ortho.

Orthos can be odd... I've found that they are either totally cool, or complete asses; no in-between. I think my girl is on the cool side! ;)

As for the SVT, you're right about it being an unpleasant feeling! I got up to a HR of mid 180's after simply sneezing.

The resident that was following the attending kept condescendingly telling me to calm down because I just could not stop from rapid respiration, even after trying the bearing down stuff, ect. I finally looked at him and said, "I AM calm, dammit, I'm just breathing fast!"

That probably wasn't the best way to make my case, in hindsight. ;)

Z said...

In California, one gets the idea that we're not graduating any native-born nurses anymore. There still are wonderful nurses, but the preponderance here are imports from the Philippines and they barely speak English. Very hard to get good, caring help, from what I hear, when you can't really make yourself understood to your nurse.
The better private hospitals do still have EXCELLENT native-born nurses but many of my friends say even that population, at good private hospitals, is dwindling...and relate to me how they or their parents who were hospitalized didn't have good experiences with foreign nurses.

ON the contrary, private Philippino nurses who care for my elderly friends at their homes are marvelous; loving, etc.

Native-born nurses DO, however, work at the PRIVATELY doctor-owned colonoscopy centers, Radiology/MRI centers, etc., and you just can't GET better nurses than they are....caring, sharp, experienced. REALLY great and, in situations like that, one depends on them, and they're REALLY THERE for you.

Thanks to Florence Nightingale for setting the bar; I Hope more and more native-born Americans take up this wonderful career.

Thanks, Chuck and Brooke, for the work you do.

Funny that you mention food today. I spoke to an 89 yr old friend yesterday who is now living in a care place and it was her birthday. SOmeone brought her chocolates so she put them out and the nurses devoured them in an afternoon:=)

Feed a nurse; they deserve it!

Chuck said...

Brooke, sounds like you were treated pretty poorly. We coach patients through this, it's a horrendous experience. I also don't let anyone (even a resident) tell one of my patients to calm down - unless it is warranted.

Z, I am not in anyway against foreign born people going into health care - as long as they can speak English fluently and clearly. I want to see the best of the best caring for our patients. It is a pet peeve of mind though to try to speak to someone on the phone who I cannot understand.

Z said...

OH, gosh, Chuck, I hope I didn't give the impression I don't want foreign nurses! I just think it's sad that friends of mine literally couldn't communicate with their nurses while in a med/surg bed.

SOme of the foreign nurses are stealing and gossip, too, but I suppose that happens with any group of people, foreign or not. I've just not heard of it before in hospitals behind the scenes.
I know that many people have had things stolen in convalescent hospitals..

Anyway...yes, we train better here and we can speak English. Why we're not growing more nurses is beyond me. But, we are not.

Chuck said...

Z, I didn't realize how little time I have had for posting until I saw how long ago your response was. Sorry for the delay. No, I did not think that of you. You would be one of the last people I would think of as a racist