It’s funny when you switch roles interchangeably. Nurse -> patient. Patient -> nurse. I’ve spoken about this before. But today i realised that changing roles dramatically changes the dynamics as well. And i do mean dramatically. It is insane. Well at least from my point of view when shifting back and forth.
There’s been a few occasions whereby i was the patient, but the nurse wasn’t fulfilling her role appropriately. I had to gently point out to these nurses that no, what you are giving me is wrong. I had a nurse give me 2.5mg of MTX, and i quizzed her because it was 1 tablet instead of the usual 4 tabs of 10mg. It made a world of a difference. She told me that the tablet was a 10mg one, and i told her that i’ve been taking this for 4 years even up to doses of 25mg. If there were any 10mg tabs, i would have taken it before. And off she scurried to double check the medication. I had another nurse cutting my HCQ tablet into half just because i mentioned that i was taking 300mg a day. I was alternating between 200mg and 400mg daily because the tablets are enteric-coated and should strictly speaking, never be broken into two. The pharmacist left a note to remind her, but it went on for days. So i let them continue with their folly. After all it was a sugar pill for me. I had another nurse who gave me something other than dextromethorphan. I was taking it a few times a day for several days, and i knew it to be brownish-black syrup. And suddenly came a pinkish-red syrup(i don’t have an idea, procodin? diphenhydramine?). I quizzed her and she insisted that she was right. Then the next day, another nurse did the same thing, and i quizzed her in front of a senior staff nurse. The latter scurried off to check, and returned with the correct syrup and apologised. And then in my heart i knew that the nurse had committed a medication error the previous day.
I’ve had IV tubes taped to my hand haphazardly and dangling off my dorsum, tugging onto the thin skin. I’ve had air bubbles enter my veins. I’ve had bandaging done so pathetically that i had to take it off and re-bandage it myself. I’ve had wound dressing done on me without any aseptic technique whatsoever, with the nurse using non-sterile latex gloves while doing the aseptic procedure.
Doctors treat me so nicely, using kind and sensitive words, trying to preach to me a thing or two about doing the right things, occasionally digging at the institution they’re working for, or the life they live as a medical officer. Showing concern like they should, smiling like they should. Everything.
And that is what i see as a patient. But once i’m in that nursing uniform, everything changes. The doctors are not gonna be so kind. In fact many of them are really just anal. Some look anal, especially the young guys who wear tight pants, or the ladies so snooty their noses are in the clouds, but they are really quite effable at times. There are even doctors who respect nurses a lot, but that’s a different story, and a rare come-across. When i’m in the uniform, i will be the one who is the subject of questions from the patient. I will be the one who is trying to figure out why my patient is doing this or that, feeling this or that, and it isn’t because they are anal. It’s because they are patients, and they are sick. It isn’t because they are fussy or acting smart. It’s because they took charge of their lives before they are sick, and when they are in the hospital, they are under our charge. They lost that bit of control and autonomy. We are responsible to and for them, and that includes observing the 5 rights to medication. That includes taping down the IV tubes like how you would want it for yourself. That includes bandaging a wound that looks neat and presentable. And that includes respecting the patient as a whole. You’ll be surprised, but patients who’ve been chronically ill know their disease and relative treatments better than you. They’ll have no qualms about voicing out their opinions, because afterall they know it better than you, and they’ve been taking charge of it before that. I know i would voice my opinions, i would re-bandage my wound, i will re-tape the tubes, i will shift patient stickers on the wristband because it’s awfully misaligned, re-do my blanket if they did it badly. And there’s nothing wrong in that. We, both the patient and the nurse, will learn from it.
It’s not because i’m a bad patient, or they are bad nurses(and vice versa). It’s because we have to take pride in the things we do, and you have to always consider what you would do if you had to switch places. I know i wouldn’t do the things i don’t like myself, or even ethically or medically wrong things.
I do enjoy being a patient to a certain extent. But i do miss being in the uniform, and smiling after a long day of work knowing that i’ve helped my patients. Nevermind if the doctors holler at you, or the pharmacists/allied health/whatever are pissy to you.
Because they are also doing their job, which is also the same end you’ve come to. And that is to help our patients.