Hands on Nursing

One of my friends is very hill and in the hospital. I’ve spent the last few days taking turns with one or two others just sitting in her room in case she needs something. I’ve spent enough time with my husband in a hospital bed to know that you need an advocate with you when you are too weak to advocate for yourself.

Nursing seems to have changed with more sophisticated medical treatment, but something also seems to have been lost. I was glad I was with my friend when she needed more ice chips, couldn’t reach something on her tray or needed to be re-positioned in her bed. Ringing the call bell eventually brought a response,but it was often a long time. When you are so weak you can hardly get words out, you may be too weak to find the call button.

Most of the nurses and techs were compassionate – when they came into the room, but when you are really ill, frightened and alone a friendly face goes a long way. I know nurses are incredibly busy. Just knowing how to operate all the equipment that didn’t exist a couple of years ago must be daunting. And they probably have more patients on their twelve hour shifts than they can really handle. But sometimes when I walked to the nurses station to ask a question about my friend or how I could get something for her, the nurses were chatting. I know they have to sit down, too, so don’t yell at me. And I understand that they need some down time to step away from the intensity of their jobs, but I wondered about the people who didn’t have family and friends to sit with them.

Perhaps there should be a new category of healthcare workers. People who would wander the floor and say hello, ask can I get you anything, hold a hand or just sit and listen for a bit.

I suppose nursing can no longer be as hands on as it used to be. When I was in the hospital with mono my senior year in high school, the nurse came in every night and gave patients a short back rub to help them get to sleep. That info lets  you know I was in high school shortly after the Civil War, but I doubt very many patients get back rubs any more. Wouldn’t it be nice if they did. Caring hands can be as healing as state of the art medicine.

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