Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

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Let me first apologize for the expletives tonight. I worked a 12 hour night shift last night and probably shouldn't blog coming off the lack of sleep. Nights like last night really make me rethink my dwindling nursing career. I had this patient in his 50's. Long time Heroin user, smoked 2 packs a day. I struggle in my efforts to be kind and compassionate to people who constantly make the wrong choices. This patient apparently thought that his horrible life gave him the right to be incredibly rude and condescending to me. He blatantly told me to f*&# off, refused to be washed, spit on the floor, dumped his urinal on the floor, disconnected his IV to cause a massive flood and called me a B*$@*^. Sigh.

Now I am the most calm and understanding nurse around. I'm patient with my patients. But there is something called being a baseline a@$$-it has nothing to do with your medical condition or your addiction. More than likely if you were obnoxious and unliked before your illness, you will continue to be that way despite your illness. I know-these are the very folks I should have compassion and sympathy for.
I lost my mind around 2 am. Told him that this was not the Marriott, nor was I the housekeeper, handmaiden or punching bag. He was much more pleasant after that encounter. So maybe that is the compassion-letting people know when they are being hurtful and rude. Maybe he didn't know or ever had anyone call him on it.

So when it is day 5 and you are going thru your heroin withdrawals, when your temperature is 104 degrees, when you're vomitting the last speck of bile from your gut and the pain is so bad you want to die, when the hallucinations of bugs crawling on your legs finally get to you, when the voices stop screaming in your ears....and you decide that this really isn't much fun...get yourself some help. Because as frustrating as it is, we really can't help those who won't help themselves.


Marybeth said...

Whoa...I think it was the perfect time to blog.
You were just the nurse that guy needed last night. Compassion and empathy present in different ways...Your setting that guy straight was the perfect medicine.
Nursing and your patients are lucky to have you.

Kat RN said...

I feel your pain. Sometimes it is hard to be nice to those patients. You really are a great nurse. Don't let nights like that get to you.