Everyone has a secret, so nurses also have theirs. Let’s know some of these in the nurses’ own words.
That we’re exhausted
Your nurse will never tell you how tired, fatigued or absolutely beat they are. You may say, “you look tired,” and we’ll answer honestly enough, but we’ll mostly make our exhaustion seem like less than it is.
That giving your medicine is a big, frustrating deal.
We don’t just go grab a pile, put them in a cup, and saunter satisfied to your bedside.
Giving medications is nowhere near as easy as it looks, but your nurse will make it seem like a breeze.
That we “bend” the rules.
Usually if you ask your nurse for something the legitimate answer may be no, but your nurse will respond, “let me check on that.”
That our other patient just died.
In my critical care unit I’m usually right outside your door, if not right by your side. If you don’t see me for a while that may indicate things are not doing so well in another room.
When I return, perhaps visually flustered, I will apologize profusely for ignoring you. Bless your heart for being so understanding most of the time.
That our family is sick.
Working as a nurse usually doesn’t afford you the ability to leave at a moment’s notice when your child falls ill. Nurses will continue to care for their sick patients even when sickness is waiting for them at home.
How scared we were when we almost lost you.
Many of my peers might not use the word fear, or say that an acute situation scared them, but most will agree that when a patient crashes and things go bad that their body reacts.
Hearts race, stomachs clinch, and despite the liquid efficiency of the team, there’s a measure, albeit small, of worry. We want you to come back, and it honestly scares us that you might not.
But you will never know this. Not fully. We’ll tell you what happened, and honestly describe the events, but that moment of fear will have faded in the face of victory, and it will be purposely forgotten in favor of mutual rejoicing.
How we think about you off the clock.
I’m not sure if you know this or not, but when your nurse leaves your bedside they take a piece of you with them. They will wonder how you’re feeling, and will likely call the other shift on duty to see how you’re doing.