Today I came home from my usual 12 hour shift (which usually ends up being a 14 hour day) on my oncology unit. To start my day off one of my patients was being RRT’d, for those of you who do not speak the medical jargon – RRT means rapid response team – meaning the patient was doing very poorly and needed to be escalated to a higher level of care. This patient I admitted the night before – they were a transfer from another unit with lung cancer, coming in with a newly placed chest tube (a tube sticking out of the chest that was draining excess pus from an infection around the lungs). Not only was this poor patient dealing with the chest tube, they were also on 4L of oxygen. At change of shift (around 7am), their oxygen levels dropped to 85% with increased shortness of breath (the patient felt like they were drowning) – this is NOT good – they were then placed on 6L which did not help and eventually they were placed on an aerosol mask. This means they were not stable enough to stay on our unit with a high flow oxygen mask. Now that you all have gotten that background of this poor patient I want to talk about something that really opened my eyes and taught me something…even when this patient was going through all of this, oxygen levels dropping, chest tubing leaking blood, doctors in and out of the room, constant vital signs, EKG’s, labs – he said to me, after looking outside the window, “wow the snow looks so pretty on the rooftops.” As a nurse, I just stood there looked out the window and smiled. Here is this patient, absolutely shitting the bed medically, and he is fucking saying how beautiful the world is. This made me realize that the little things in life are so important. As a society we are pessimistic and always looking for something to complain about – but not this patient who’s life could easily flash before his eyes. He looked out the window and appreciated the little amount of beauty he could see. Moral of this story, appreciate the little things, you really do not know how long you have on this earth – thats up to God.
This is why I do the job that I do. It is things like this that make me smile. The chats I have with my patients and the things I can learn from them are truly infinite. I am so fortunate to work with the oncology population and as a nurse. Its a tough job, but in the end so rewarding, this is why us nurses stick to what we do; no matter how much shit we have to clean up, no matter how many times a patient yells at us or tries to hit us, no matter how many times we have to clean up a deceased patient; we will always try our bests to help others. That is why I do nursing to learn the values of life through my patients eyes and to help them when they need it most.
lots of love,