Many of my nurse colleagues have been both patient and nurse at one time or another. Frankly, while you might think that it is nice to relax on the opposite site of the bed for once and have someone care for you, and perhaps for some it is, I find it an uncomfortable position in which to find myself. That is especially true if the hospitalization involves anything invasive like a blood draw, an IV line, or yes, a Foley.  I find myself wondering (almost aloud) about the technique. If I am lightly sedated prior to the procedure, I won’t be able to monitor technique and prevent a possible mishap.  If I am wide awake during the procedure, I may be horrified at what I see – like a simple alcohol swab for an infusion, following by fanning and blowing (recirculation of droplet bacteria), and then inserting the catheter while dragging the superfluous alcohol along the wall of the vein. When I am told that the professional inserting the line is an ‘expert,’ I wonder ‘according to whom or to what standards’?  When the tourniquet is placed so tightly that arterial blood is constricted, I frankly worry.

Are we all like me? Do my nurse peers also worry about the outcomes of care, the possible side effects of procedures gone awry, or a blood stream infection?  Is it possible to be relaxed when the nurse working a 12-hour shift is clearly unfamiliar with the electronic medical record, or tells you that the reason the infusion pump is beeping is because the infusion is complete (although from your pillow you can see 650 ml left in the bag)? Perhaps it is my desire to be in control that prevents me from enjoying the experience of being in the bed, rather than beside it. Perhaps it is my desire to avoid negative outcomes and to regain my health as quickly and uneventfully as possible that precludes me from relaxing.

If you have been both patient and nurse, I’d love to hear your spin on the situation.

 

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