Finding Absurdity Amidst the Chaos
….a desire you’re unable to ignore that brings you into a really tough and often thankless profession. It involves quite a bit of sacrifice; being a guardian over a group of patients, providing the care they deserve and making sure no harm befalls them.
Nursing also has a humorous component to it. That two dollar pen in your pocket becomes your most prized possession of the day. When someone asks to borrow it, you give them side-eye. If by chance you are forced to let them use it, you hover above them like a mama bird until it is returned. And if it runs out of ink—end of the world meltdown scenario ensues!
There are countless memes on the internet depicting the humorous relatable side of nursing, most of which are true. I often wash my hands for a full minute in public restrooms and turn the faucets on and off with the use of my elbows. Holding your bladder until your urine is darker than your patient's urine, (who is in renal failure)? Yeah, that happens! Waiting desperately for your relief to show up so that you can finally pass the baton? That definitely happens! Eating your lunch while discussing open wounds and bowel movements? Standards in nursing! You learn to eat your lunch in 3 minutes, using whatever utensil you can find. Sometimes it’s a tongue depressor. Eating yogurt with a fork and a steak with a spoon takes skill!
Nursing is honing the skill of predicting a full moon by what’s taking place with the patients on your unit. It’s learning how to fix anything that breaks with pieces of tape. Nursing is phone calls from doctors while you're trying to use the bathroom. Writing orders down on napkins and toilet paper because you have nothing else around. It's backless hospital gowns. It's walking miles every day. It's being on your feet multitasking for 14 hour shifts. It's having to re-site your patient's IV near the last few minutes of your very long shift because dementia made them pull it out. It's donning gloves to clean up bodily fluids and excrement. It's being away from your family on holidays and birthdays. It's always being late for any plans you have that take place after your shift ends. It's feeling guilty for saying "no" when they ask you to come in on your day off. It's putting the laundry and housework on hold.
It's also a great lesson in humility. It's learning that your problems often pale in comparison to the people you're caring for. It's pushing through those tears that well up in your throat as you deliver the worst case scenario to a patient and their family. It's about a brave face. It's about showing up. Doing God's work. Not complaining. It's a happy sacrifice. And if you're lucky, it's a funny story to tell at your next social gathering. It's finishing something to laugh at to keep from crying. I think every nurse has a book within him/her to write—a series of beautiful, remarkable, funny antidotes. We may look like we have it all together, but inside we are complex creatures with hearts of gold doing our best to heal our fellow man.
James Ludeau is a native to the Lafayette area. He is the total joint program coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes. He is an outdoor enthusiast. He is an artist, photographer, and writer. He manages a blog of local writers named Words of Acadiana.