The importance of “best” and “worst” shifts

Close your eyes and think about the worst shift that you ever survived; I use the word “survive”, because after such a shift, one can feel like they have been through Hell and back in what seems like a never-ending 12.5 hours… who am I kidding, we are nurses, it’s more like 13-14 hours! My worst shifts weren’t the “busy” ones that happened because we were short-staffed, didn’t get a break, or got swamped with admissions… those happen all the time and we (just) get through them. No, the worst shifts stay with you; you remember how they made you feel… sadness, self-doubt, anger, or frustration… or all of those things piled into one really crappy day.

We remember the painful things; it’s not by choice. As nurses, we often bear witness to horrific events that occur every day, in every city or town. We see car accidents, victims of violence, drownings, child abuse/neglect, etc. We try to help in any way that we can, and when we can’t, our heart breaks because of our limitations. My worst shifts will never be forgotten… I remember the bruised, emaciated body of a little boy who was kept in a cage in his adoptive parent’s basement as we tirelessly worked to resuscitate him; we did everything that we could, but it was too late. I remember caring for a teenage girl who attempted suicide by hanging, and was brought back to a life of complete debilitation. I remember providing end-of-life care to a young girl who fought a courageous, but impossible, battle with cancer, and once she peacefully passed from this life, with her parents and siblings at her side, her mother’s heart (literally) stopped beating, and we had to immediately go into life-saving mode, call a “code blue” and start CPR on mom, right outside of her deceased daughter’s room. We brought her broken heart back, whether it wanted to continue to beat or not. I still think about that family many years later. I will never forget that day and the lesson it taught me that one can truly die from a broken heart.

Now… take a breath, close your eyes, and think about your best shift at work…did it inspire you to be a better nurse, or a better colleague…or a better person? The best shifts are not the ones that are uneventful, or dare I say, “quiet”.  No, the best shifts are often unexpectedly extraordinary. A “best” shift is created when you are working with a great team and all the stars are aligned in your favor for a positive outcome. I remember one of my best days… I was an active responder during a Rapid Response that quickly escalated into a full code. We did everything in our power to re-start a life, but we soon became painfully aware of the high probability that we may lose our (very) young patient. It seemed inevitable, but during the final pulse check, as we all looked up at the monitor in complete silence… a rhythm suddenly appeared, and pulses returned. We coudn’t believe it, but we gratefully accepted this gift from above. The best shift becomes that “crazy, unbelievable” story that you share with one another, forever bonded as witnesses of a true miracle.

“Best” and “worst” shifts are equally important because they define our actions, attitudes, and our experiences as nurses; we learn from them; they make us (more) human, and better nurses. They also create stronger and more unified teams, because best and worst shifts connect us forever. I wish you all best and worst days that will give you the strength and empathy that you need to be compassionate, grateful, and kind to one another.

nursing inspirational quotes Best of 50 Nursing Quotes to Inspire and Brighten Your Day NurseBuff

My article was published on Allnurses.com:

https://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/the-importance-of-1169317.html#.W1eJt0Etm0E.link

Depression. Despair. Suicide.

I originally wrote this post about suicide two years ago after several incidents of “jumpers” from a nearby parking garage occurred within a short time frame, and I couldn’t get past the sadness and horror as I walked past it everyday. It touched me deeply, and I didn’t even know them… but I knew of them, and seemed connected to them in some way. Each time it happened, it seemed like a dark secret no one would talk about. There was minimal information in the newspaper, and I had so many unanswered questions. There is a stigma that comes with mental illness that many do not feel comfortable talking about. So we don’t.

Now, I’m going to open up and get very honest and personal. My cousin committed suicide when I was young… it was something that wasn’t talked about in my family, and I am still not certain of the specifics and I wish I knew more. A dear friend’s son committed suicide last year… it has been absolutely devastating for her, her family, and Alex’s friends (my daughter was one of his friends). They will always mourn his loss… he was gifted, and kind, and successful, yet he couldn’t ask for help to get out of the darkness.

Something happened recently that shook me to my core; my daughter attempted suicide. She became so overwhelmed with her work in the news industry, with this relentless cycle of negativity and civil injustice, that she quite literally “broke”. Her compassionate heart could not continue to write (and re-write, and re-re-write) about the horrific acts of violence and sadness in the world…. that, and the tragic loss of life with the global pandemic, and the isolation of being in quarantine, was too much for her to bear, and she lost something that keeps most of us moving forward… hope. My own beautiful daughter became so depressed that she didn’t want to live another day. That shocking realization is something that I was not prepared for… not my sassy, funny, bright, strong, successful daughter…. that can’t be… under my own eyes, in my own house. How did I miss this? I felt like I had failed her. In hindsight I did see some subtle changes, but she was good at pretending she was ok… she stopped working-out with her virtual trainer because it was so hot outside. She stayed in her pajamas all day because didn’t everyone who worked from home do that? She wasn’t sleeping because she was working so hard writing for the news show that she produced. And me…. I am a Nurse, so I went to work like I always did, even under the stress of Covid… I came home late, sore, and tired… and I missed it. But thank God, I was able to stop her in time… and I got her help. Yes, we have guardian angels among us.

We have all felt sad, disappointed, and alone at one time or another in our lives. Those of us who have struggled with depression, or other high risk factors such as loss, low self-esteem, rejection, or stress, have experienced varying degrees of darkness and despair; it’s not a fun place to be, and not everyone makes it out alive. Some have been in such a low place that they feel their only solution to overcome this immense pain and suffering is through one final extreme act of choosing death over an unbearable life. We all have our own inner demons that come out when we are at our most vulnerable.

Depression is an illness that often can be mistakenly viewed as a sign of weakness, or an inability to cope with everyday life. This is just not true. The American Psychiatric Association (2018) defines depression as a medical illness that affects how one feels, thinks, and acts; it can lead to thoughts of suicide if left untreated with the right mix of therapy and medication.

Suicide has been described as death from despair. According to the Center for Disease Control (2018), suicide rates in the U.S. have increased 25% in the past two decades and are increasing among adults aged 45-64. Among those aged 15-34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. These are scary statistics…especially when they hit so close to home. Those of us in healthcare have seen the outcomes of an attempted suicide. My first experience as a young PICU nurse caring for a teenage girl who attempted suicide by hanging was extremely difficult; there was no happy ending or miraculous recovery for this young, troubled girl. This story was tragic, and yet it happens everyday. She had gone through a bad break-up with her boyfriend, and the pain and rejection led her to self-mutilation, which didn’t dull the pain deep inside of her, so she hung herself. Her sister found her, and called 911. She was brought back to a life of vegetation. She wore a haunted look of pure rage, which seemed to be her only facial expression when “awake”. She had just enough brain activity to continue medical interventions. I still think about her from time-to-time and I wonder if she ever found the peace that she was looking for so long ago. I truly hope so.

What can we do to prevent our loved ones from choosing this ultimate act of despair? First, we need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and not be afraid to ask if they need help or want to talk….or even if they have ever thought about hurting/killing themselves. We need to support better medical coverage for mental health and pre-existing conditions; we need to prevent those who have mental health conditions from being able to legally purchase a firearm; and last, and most important, we need to support them and not judge them. “There but for the grace of God, go I”. Timing is everything, and if the pain and despair are recognized early enough, perhaps a life can be saved.

Linkin Park wrote a beautiful song about suicide called One More Light (2017). The irony that one of the writers, Chester Bennington, committed suicide a year later, speaks to his state of mind and intimate understanding of the effects of suicide for the ones who are left behind to try to heal from this great loss.

Video:

One More Light (lyrics)

Should’ve stayed, were there signs, I ignored?

Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?

We saw brilliance, when the world, was asleep

There are things that we can have, but can’t keep

If they say

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

The reminders pull the floor from your feet

In the kitchen, one more chair than you need oh

And you’re angry, and you should be, it’s not fair

Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there

If they say

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

Who cares if one more light goes out?

In a sky of a million stars

It flickers, flickers

Who cares when someone’s time runs out?

If a moment is all we are

We’re quicker, quicker

Who cares if one more light goes out?

Well I do

Well I do

Linkin Park (2017)

Songwriters: Brad Delson / Chester Charles Bennington / Dave Farrell / Francis White / Joseph Hahn / Mike Shinoda / Robert G. Bourdon

One More Light lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

If you, or someone that you know, are having thoughts of suicide, please seek professional help; call a friend or family member, or call the

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2018). What is depression? Retrieved from https://psychiatry.org/depression

CDC. (2018). Suicide rates rise sharply across the US, new report shows. Retrieved from https://washingtonpost.com

Linkin Park. (2017). One more light. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Tm8LGxTLtQk

(un)happy father’s day

This is my first Father’s Day without my Dad. I can’t escape the barage of commercials and advertisements suggesting the “perfect gift for Dad”; my heart breaks and I change the channel quickly. This year, as I visit my Dad at the cemetery, I am painfully reminded that everything is different. There will be no family BBQ, or “Whale of a Dad” Carvel ice-cream cake, which my Dad loved so much (those chocolate crunchies were his favorite!); no sentimental card with a boat/fishing theme (because that was his favorite thing to do when he was healthy), and no brightly covered gift of pajamas/shirts/shorts/slippers, or whatever Mom thought he could “use” that year.

This Father’s Day I am working, so today Shea and I, and our dogs Riley and Gracie, visited my Dad and planted flowers at his grave. He always enjoyed it when we would bring the dogs to visit, and he loved Riley so much; she never left his side during his final days. He didn’t get the chance to meet Gracie, but I’m sure that they would have quickly bonded, playing fetch with tennis balls, and some belly rubs too of course!

I brought my Dad a stepping stone and solar-powered cross to decorate his grave, and I thanked him (again) for being such a great Father and Pop-Pop.

My Father and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, especially when I was a teenager growing up in Jersey City. He was tough; very (very) strict. When Mom got angry and said “wait until your father comes home!”, we knew that we were in big trouble. Times were very different back then, and for better or worse, we were literally afraid to misbehave. He did the best that he could, and I don’t think I fully appreciated or understood that until I became a parent myself. He looked out for us from the day that we were born, and protected us until his dying breath.

After my Dad became a grandfather, or “Pop-Pop”, as he was called, I saw a completely different side to him, which was pretty awesome. He adored his granddaughters, and he learned to be comfortable saying the words “I love you” out loud (which was not common as I grew up)… and those words later evolved to “I love you more”, which we knew, deep down, that he sincerely did. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to grow close to my Dad and have him in my life for as long as I did. I was able to witness seeing him open up his heart to the life of being a beloved, generous, supportive, loyal, dependable, (and really funny!) Father and Pop-Pop.

Happy Father’s Day in Heaven Dad!

I love you and I miss you everyday, but today even more.

me and dad

The Giving Key

The Giving Key is a “pay it forward” movement that helps support and create jobs for people transitioning out of homelessness (TGK, 2018). Each key has a word of your choosing that represents something that one may “need”; the meaning can be different for everyone. The gift of the key may be yours in the beginning, but ultimately, the true gift is in the giving to others. When you find someone who needs “it” more than you do, you pay it forward and give them your key, and hope that it helps them, as it has you.

I have purchased several keys over the last few years. My first was “love”; it was an old silver key that had been weathered and worn. I identified with it. I wanted the gift of love to open up my heart to the world around me as it had been closed for a long time. It is a scary thing to be able to learn to love and trust again; I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Once a heart is broken, it is never truly the same. But one day I found someone who needed the key, and the word, more than I did…she was going through a really tough time after a difficult divorce. I recognized her pain and brokenness, and I knew that she needed to find love again…self love.

love

After awhile, I came across the keys again and I chose another word, “strength”. When both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer, and I was struggling with working full time and commuting to NYC, and taking courses for my Master’s degree, I prayed for strength to get through each day, and be present for everyone who needed me. A few months ago I reconnected with an old friend…the kind of friend that you don’t see often, but when you do, it’s like no time has passed at all. That day God put me where I needed to be; she needed to be lifted up. She needed a friend, a cheerleader, and someone who understood her struggle. Once again, I saw something in her that I knew all too well. I gave her my strength key because I wanted her to have a constant reminder that she was strong and brave, and that this, too, shall pass.

strength

My new key is “hope”, which I chose because it is something that I need to remember to never lose, so I don’t give up on myself or others. As long as there is hope, there is a chance that things will get better.

hope

I just purchased a key for my daughter. I won’t share with you the word that I chose for her, but it is something that I hope for her every single day. I only wish that she could see herself the way that I see her. It is probably my most important key.

The Giving Keys. (2018). About us. Retrieved from https://www.thegivingkeys.com

Celebrating Nurses

Every year around this time I receive a “Happy Nurse’s Day” card from my parents…today, my card came from my Mom; she always remembers. She reminded me how proud she is, and how proud my Dad was, of me being a nurse. The loss of my Dad always sneaks up on me. It is that constant flow of support and love that has been the driving force throughout my career, and completion of my Master’s degree. The journey that I have been on has not always been smooth sailing; there have been more than a few bumps and sharp turns (and U-turns) along the way, which have led me to where I am today…which is mostly a good place.

Nursing has been the one constant in my life. This amazing profession has helped me to grow in my career and overcome many challenges. It allowed me to support my daughter as a single parent, buy a home, and basically make “ends meet”. We are not paid nearly enough for the work that we do, but we get by.

I have worked with amazing nurses in my long career and they will always be my forever friends; the “job” connects and bonds you in a way that most other professions do not. We share similar stories, frustrations, heartbreaks, and challenges. Nursing is hard work and often we do not get recognized for having sharp instincts, endless patience, strength, and resilience…all with the sole purpose of keeping our patients alive!

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Nursing Supervisors    

nurse supervisor

As a nurse leader, it can be challenging to perform your role while walking the line between Nursing and Administration; the rules change. We are held accountable to strictly adhere to staffing guidelines, ensure patient and staff safety, consider patient acuity with staffing that is balanced with expert, competent, and novice nurses so that those with more experience can teach and develop new grads. In most hosptials, there is an abundance of upper management/leadership support and resources for patients and staff during the weekdays; on the off-shifts (eves and nights), weekends, and holidays, the responsibility of “steering the boat” changes from “many” to “one”; this singular, fearless leader is the Nursing Supervisor, who has to make difficult decisions and know when, and who, to call for help. They are called to respond to patient/family complaints/concerns, patient and non-patient emergencies, and occasionally discipline/coach staff… all while knowing that some of the choices you have to make may not be popular or well-received. I try to make the best decisions that I can, with the information that I have at the time. I am imperfect. I have made mistakes. I have miscommunicated via email, and I may have been too busy to remember to count to 10, and think before I speak during a particularly stressful moment. I am acutely aware that during every shift, I have a ton of responsibility to many: patients, families, staff, colleagues, and administration. Not everyone can appreciate that perspective…some can only see what is happening in their own area, and not the other things that may be going on in the rest of the hospital that can sometimes take precedence. We only know what we know.

Several years ago I worked with a really strong and brilliant Nursing Supervisor, Jackie; she did not mess around….she knew everything that was happening in the entire (very large) hospital, even if she wasn’t covering those areas. She could work the staffing numbers like a mathematician, and quickly move people where they needed to be to balance the numbers. In a crisis, she was calm, cool, and collected. She taught me a lot and never gave up on me, even when I made the decision to return to staffing and not stay in that role; I just wasn’t ready at the time.

We all have our own leadership styles, but the most important thing is that we lead with authenticity; we do the best that we can, practice the values of the organization, develop trust, and show compassion for others.

Happy Nurse’s Week! Enjoy the recognition from your family, friends, colleagues, and the organizations in which you work. You have earned it! It is the best job in the world!

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All Dogs go to Heaven

Please allow me to tell you about my sweet, beautiful collie, Steffi… I adopted Stef when she was 5 years old after being a breeder and show dog in Connecticut. I found out about her from a friend at the Children’s Hospital where I used to work because one of the therapy dogs who frequently visited the pediatric patients was a beautiful collie named “Jump”. Jump’s owner knew of my love for collies (I had one as a child, Timmy) and she knew that Steffi was being retired from breeding after having 3 litters, and she needed a forever home. I could not refuse this beautiful girl. Her picture and “story” below is still proudly displayed on the website today:

Steph2

 My Stef

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself”– Josh Billings
Stef was gentle and sweet; she was graceful and elegant. She couldn’t care less about a tennis ball or stuffed toy…she was far too refined. She enjoyed being the center of attention, being petted and brushed, and she was a big fan of cheese and pizza. She got along easily with every dog and person who ever crossed her path and I was so proud to share the story of how we came to find each other.
Sadly, she seemed to develop severe anxiety and dementia the past two years; after many visits to the vet and extensive testing to rule out a medical issue, she was placed on medications to reduce anxiety; first, we tried Valium, which only made her sleepy, and then, Prozac, which helped a little…until it didn’t. We changed her diet to help manage her incontinence, which was hit or miss. Eventually we just kept her calm, happy, and comfortable, and helped her manage her difficulties with vision and hearing. Many times I had to help her navigate out of a corner because she couldn’t find her way out. I waited for her to let me know when it was “time”. Her “good” days of being perky, playful, eating/drinking, and wanting to be petted and loved, were being measured against her “bad” days, when all she did was pace and sleep, pace and sleep, and not eat or drink. I could no longer ignore what was happening. And yet I was afraid to make that very final decision. What if she was going to have more “good” days? My beautiful pup, who could no longer walk without tripping, or stay awake for any extended amount of time, and who could barely see or hear, needed me to love her enough to make the right and hard decision to let her go. Today, she paced and she was anxious; she was breathing heavy and she broke my heart. Today, I held her and told her I loved her as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge… until we meet again my beautiful girl.
“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day” – John Grogan
Steffi
“Grief is the price we pay for love”- Queen Elizabeth II

The Power of Teams

Most nurses will tell you that they wouldn’t be able to get through their shift without the help and support of their colleagues. It is very difficult to safely care for patients without other able bodies to help you during an emergency, or consult with over a patient/medication/equipment issue, etc.  Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help; if you are unsure about something, or have any doubts, ask someone else (who knows just as much, or more, than you do) what they think. My advice is to always follow your gut instincts and question things that don’t sound or feel right. Nurses cannot work in silos; neither can nurse leaders. Working together can build stronger teams who are kinder, and who instinctually know how to help each other.

teamwork

Some days it can be hard to leave your work at the job, and you bring it home…you think about a difficult patient or situation, and how you could have handled it differently; you pray for a patient’s relief of pain, or hope that their condition improves during the next shift, and that he/she is still there when you return to work the next day…sometimes they are not. Yes, it can be hard to stop thinking about work, but it is important to try to do so for your own health and well-being. It can be equally hard, maybe even harder, to leave your personal life at home, and not bring it to work with you. We all have our “stuff” that we carry, be it a sick child or parent at home, family emergency, broken furnace, loss of a beloved pet, concern over our own health issues… we are only human, and it can be difficult to care for others when we are hurting inside. I have often found that it was during the most stressful times in my personal life where being at work was a welcome distraction, but not everyone can do that; we have to be self-aware to know when to ask for help… and when to take that mental health day. Patient safety is of utmost importance, and if you come to work not feeling well, or are so distracted that you forget to use best nursing practice, you are putting yourself, your license, and most importantly, your patients, at risk of harm. You are not alone; trust that your work family will understand and be supportive. That is what being a part of a team is all about.

compassion

It takes a team to successfully “get through” your shift… and that feeling when you see the next shift come in, looking (and smelling) all fresh and clean…ahhh, relief at last! The hand-off report, or as I like to call it, “tag,  you’re it”, is the final sign-off endorsement before you can clock out, and get back to your real life outside of work.

oprah new shift meme

My truth

I read an article from a recent Oprah magazine featuring an interview with late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel. Oprah asked Jimmy “On which truths would you stake your life?” (Winfrey, 2018). Predictably, he responded with a joke… something about never putting ketchup on hotdogs… but then he answered seriously “do unto others...”. The golden rule. Good one. But the question resonated with me more than the response because I feel so strongly about my convictions and truths that I have often gone toe-to-toe with people who, in my opinion, are just plain wrong. The answer to this huge question is uniquely personal to all of us, but I believe that it tells a lot about who we are, and why we do what we do, every single day. I also think that it is important to consider what we stand for, and what we don’t, from time-to-time to check-in with our own moral compass.

enemies winston churchill

The truths that I would stake my own life on are simple. I believe that you should always try to do the right thing, even if it’s hard and people get mad at you. I believe in honesty, fairness, equality, human rights, and animal rights, and I will do my best to advocate for those in need when I feel that there is an infringement on those rights. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance (after that, it’s a crap shoot), and even though it can be difficult, it is both necessary and important, to forgive others who have hurt you. You have to do it for yourself, not for them.

I’ve definitely made mistakes that I wish I could change. Looking back, I thought that I did the best that I could at the time, but regrettably I could have done better. If I did, I think my life would be completely different than it is now. I could have been braver, trusted more, fought harder, or let go faster. Live and learn. I think that it is extremely important to forgive ourselves for past mistakes, and try to not live life with regret/guilt/shame…these things can haunt you forever if you allow them to; trust me, I know.

So I ask you…on which truths would you stake your life?

stand up

Reference

Winfrey, O. (2018, April). A stand-up guy. Oprah Magazine, 19(4), pp 120-121.

Why I Pray

I start and end each day with a simple prayer, which I’ve done for as far back as I can remember. Some days I ask for strength to get through the long day ahead of me; other days, I ask for patience, or guidance in making decisions. I often do “off-the-cuff” casual prayers, because that’s the kind of relationship I have with the ‘Big Guy”; these are actually more like “pep talks” before I even step foot out of bed in the morning. Although in serious times, or when I am worried about something, I go old school with the classics and pray like the good Catholic girl that I was raised to be.

prayer

This morning, after a long, sleepless night of tossing and turning, I prayed for courage. I tried to mentally prepare myself to do something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for the last two months. I had to have an endometrial biopsy done, which really isn’t that big of a deal in the medical/surgical procedure scheme of things, but I was worried nonetheless. It hurt like hell, but I got through it… and so the waiting game begins…these results must be ok.

Each night, without fail, I say a prayer hoping to be a better person tomorrow than I was today. I always try to do/be better. I think about what I should have done, or said, to make a difference. The day’s events play over in my head and sometimes do not shut off. On good days, I sleep well and feel content that I made good choices. Other nights, I think of things that I wish I had said, or not said, and just listened (better). I remind myself to listen more than I speak. I get into less trouble that way.

Accepting Disappointment and Moving On

I cringe when I think about all the time that I’ve wasted worrying about why /if someone doesn’t like me. In the age of social media, “likes” can easily be confused with a measurement of popularity, acceptance, or even love. I recently heard a song with the lyrics “how many likes is my life worth” (TCS, 2018), and it hit close to home because I have caught myself noticing who has “liked” my posts, and even more disturbing, who has not “liked” them; the silence speaks louder to me. I am (still) learning that it is really important, for the purpose of self-preservation, to not pay attention to the negativity, because if you allow yourself to believe that others’ opinions are more valid or valuable than your own, you risk becoming an active participant in the judging and minimization of one’s worth. That is a slippery slope of which I have been guilty.

Not long ago I held someone in such high regard that they were placed on the top of a virtual pedestal of whom I thought was “above” all others in my profession. It’s not fair or realistic to put someone in that place. It is literally a set-up for disappointment; no one can possibly live up to such expectations. Instead of blaming that person for my hurt and disappointment, I had to look at what my own role was in the broken relationship. While I am not responsible for what other people say or do, I am directly responsible for how I react/respond to people and situations. It is during the dark times when you find that your true friends will always shine a light in your direction.

Doing Your Best

All one can ask is that we do our best on any given day. Some days our best is a reach; we are tired and not as patient as we aspire to be. That’s Ok though; forgive yourself. No one can be “on” all the time.  Just remember that when you try your best, it is always “good enough”.

example not opinion

Reference:

The Chainsmokers. (2018). Sick boy. Retrieved from https://genius.com › C › The Chainsmokers

Nursing in Pediatric Rehabilitation

I currently work as a Nursing Supervisor at a magical place where FUN is a core value. The series of events that led me here involved a change in my career path due to the loss of my father, and the need to be closer to home to help my mother, who continues to fight her own lengthy battle with cancer. I firmly believe that we are often led to the place where we were meant to be. I am grateful to work for an organization that practices and leads with kindness and compassion.

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As a pediatric nurse who has primarily practiced in the acute care clinical setting, it has been an enlightening experience to enter the unique world of pediatric rehabilitation. This area of specialty focuses on infants and children (aged 0-21 years) to help improve the physically-limiting disabilities and illnesses, and support/elevate the child’s level of growth and development (ARN, 2016). The pediatric rehab nurse provides a high level of skilled nursing care that fosters recovery and/or adaptation techniques to maximize the child’s potential as they recover from an injury, surgery, congenital anomaly, or chronic illness (ARN, 2016). They are strong patient advocates that ensure each patient’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs are met. Rehab nurses are also teachers; they teach patients, families, and caregivers everything that they need to know (GT feeding, ventilator/tracheostomy care, suctioning, wound care, CPR, etc.) so that their child can (one day) return home.

Rehab nurses get to know their patients and families well because patients can remain in an inpatient rehab facility for a long period of time; often for several months. Rehab doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and patience. We celebrate the small victories, like tolerating weaning from the ventilator for extended periods of time, or slow decreases in morphine doses for infants who were born from a drug addicted mother.

The process for a patient who must re-learn how to walk, or how to manage/live with the reality of never walking again…or re-learn how to swallow, eat, and eventually speak, can be overwhelming and extremely challenging. It takes patience, dedication, and a lot of hope and faith. In the short time that I have been at my organization, I have seen remarkable success stories firsthand. Most recently, I witnessed a fifteen year old girl re-learn how to walk after sustaining a spinal cord injury from being hit by a car. I held my breath the first time I saw her walking toward me in the hallway with a huge smile on her face. She had worked so hard to free herself from the confines of her electronic wheelchair. Her success is celebrated and shared by all who participated in her recovery.  I am so proud to work at such a special place!

Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. (2016). Pediatric rehabilitation nurse. Retrieved from https://rehabnurse.org