“Nursing used to be such a caring profession” – if I had a pound for every time I heard that this past week I’d have been discharged rich.
It’s a fact that no one likes being in hospital, you have to be a right weirdo if you do.
It’s also a fact that with the sleepless nights, lack of air, flourescent lighting, stuffiness and people pooping and throwing up all around you, you’re not going to feel well, and probably won’t get better until you are discharged and back in your own home.
Hospitals after all are weird places.
They are places where the sick are sent to be cured, or have their pain eased; places where relatives wait for bad and good news; places of joy and sorrow; places of hope and loss; and places of birth and death.
I have, in my main years as an on-off inmate, waited in hospital beds and seen all of these things (apart from birth). I have spent endless sleepless nights thinking – that’s really all you can do when you are in, wait and think – about what everything is about, what you still want to achieve, and what life is for.
I know, all very deep stuff for me.
On Monday I left hospital.
The night before I left there was a quiet chaos on the ward. Nurses running backwards and forwards, a family who had been quietly waiting for days racing towards a side room, the rush of feet hurrying to get there in time. A lady, someone’s mother, wife, loved one, died.
I hadn’t met this lady, I don’t know anything about her, who she was, what she had done, anything, but her death affected me.
More than that the reaction of the staff affected me.
During my five-day stay in the Heath Hospital the woman in the bed opposite me must have moaned on about the nursing staff so often their ears must have been bleeding.
She banged on and on about how bad they were at their jobs, how uncaring they were, and how it was better in the old days.
Now, I’ve moaned about nurses in the past, I’ve got pissed off and angry (especially when one threw my teddy away). I’ve got frustrated about being told what to do, and for all I know I also moaned out of frustration at the lack of action during my stay this past week.
I mostly moaned about the food, as i pretty much wasted away in the five days i was in. It might sound like a silly thing to grumble about not being fed (the NHS always struggles with my lactose intolerance, I may as well walk in and say I only eat caviar and sushi – I will probably do a blog on this at a later date as it is beyond my comprehension)
If I took my hunger out on the staff I apologise – I was wrong, as was the lady in the bed opposite.
The night the lady in the bed down the hall died, a nurse came to take the needle out of my arm, her eyes were red and she looked as if she had been crying.
Some might call that unprofessional, I call that being human and being caring.
The next day a student nurse, who told me he was a music journalist who realised he wanted to do something that made a difference to people’s lives, personally took me to the consultant and thrust me under their noses to make sure I was seen.
He went the extra mile to make sure I could be discharged after days of waiting around.
In every profession there are coasters, grumpy people, lazy bums and bad eggs. They exist in nursing, teaching, politics, finance, marketing, journalism, anything you can think of really – apart from perhaps lion keeping.
I’ve run into my fair share in the medical profession, but mostly what I’ve seen in my 15 years in and out of hospitals are caring, hardworking staff battling to do the best they can under immense pressure and with limited resources.
The problem is working in a hospital is like working in a goldfish bowl. As a patient we are fed up, ill, ratty, and bored, and so we are demanding and critical. When you are ill you don’t care that someone is stressed or stretched you just want them to take care of you (which is understandable), you can be quick to judge, and say horrible things induced by pain, frustration and exhaustion.
At the end of the day everyone has their off days, it’s just in most professions it doesn’t mean life and death.
I will be the first to hold my hand up and say I’ve said some things which no doubt a poor nurse has heard – all I can say is they are made of sterner stuff than me.
But at the end of the day nursing is an incredible profession. I take my hat off to the men and women who cope with us all, and put up with people screaming, scratching, hitting, crying, and being down right obnoxious when mostly they are good people simply trying to help.
So that lady (and me on occasions) is wrong – nursing is still for caring people, why would you put yourself through that if not?