I have been given clear marching orders in my cancer diagnosis:
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to their faithful Creator
and continue to do good.”
– I Peter 4:19
Yes, when we are sick, broken, and want nothing more than to be pitied and pampered, we are to do something radical.
We are to continue to do good.
Since sickness and disease can place us in the hospital (ugh), there’s a group of amazing people there with such tough jobs that loving them well (and thus doing good) should be our very goal in life while we are there (besides not dying of whatever put us there to begin with).
Last week I told you about a prank I played when I was in the hospital (this was back in my 20’s before they took my testosterone away).
Nurses who read my post were generally NOT impressed. I have the text messages to prove it.
Today, I want to attempt to get out of that doghouse by giving you some practical ways to love your nurse.
I understand that you may be so incapacitated when you are in the hospital that all you can do is lie there and moan.
If so, please do so quietly. It freaks the other patients out.
Otherwise, here are some ideas to make a nurse’s day:
Note: these ideas come from my own vast medical experience as a patient and from real, live nurses who serve undeserving people like us every day.
Treat them with the utmost dignity and respect
- Yes, you may be frightened, angry, and hurting, but don’t you DARE take it out on your nurses.
- Be kind and patient with them, or God will deal with your despicable heart.
- You want them to be eager to come into your room, not flipping a coin to see who has to.
- Be quick to apologize if you blow it – offer to empty bedpans for them as your penance, if need be.
- “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. – Jesus
Show interest in their lives
- Yes, you may be in pain and feeling like your worst self, but get to know those who are caring for you.
- Memorize their name, find out about their family and their interests, ask them to tell you something about their lives.
- If they’re not rushed (ha!), ask them a specific question. “Why did you become a nurse?” is a good starter.
- If you’re bold, ask, “How can I be the best patient you’ve ever cared for while I’m here?” You will immediately become the talk of the nurse’s station.
- Find out what their favorite snack is and have it brought into the hospital by a friend or relative.
- Kit Kat bars are apparently a favorite (mine, too – what is it about those things?).
- Give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant when you are dismissed.
- Warning: do not attempt to actually cook for them while you are hospitalized.
- Write a thank you note and leave it at the nurse’s station for them when you are dismissed.
- Even better, write a letter to the unit director and the hospital administration if you received exemplary care. Nurses rarely receive this sort of recognition. Their bosses need to know when they have done a good job.
Speak to them
- If a nurse really knocks it out of the park, take a moment, look them in the eyes, and tell them.
- Sometimes I go back to thank every nurse, orderly, and medical assistant I can find from my floor. I say something like, “You guys ever feel unappreciated? Not today. I am here to tell you how grateful I am for each of you. Thank you for caring for me so well recently.”
- Be careful with this one, but I have even asked nurses to call an administrator (who is over them) to come to my room. Once they both arrive, I specifically praise the nurse up and down to the administrator. If they survive the fear that I was going to be complaining about something, they are my friend for life.
Make life a little easier (quoting a nurse now)
- Nurses spend all day every day doing a cycle of the following: assess, plan, implement, evaluate, repeat….every microsecond.
- So every interruption breaks that cycle, that rhythm, and slows the train for a bit.
- However, the patient’s need are PRIMARY. So as a patient make sure you get your needs met no matter how you accomplish it.
- Group your requests as much as possible (just like being nice to a waitress)
- Ask the DOCTORS the IMPORTANT questions. Doctors should explain pros/cons of procedures and disease details and stuff like that. Doctors round at weird unpredictable hours so keep a notepad with you and write down all your questions! That way as the different docs, specialists come through you are ready. We nurses would also be happy to talk with you and fill in gaps….but the docs are the source of all truth.
- This week I took a big bouquet (with a heartfelt note) over to the nurses who kindly transfused me a couple of Saturdays ago. It turned into a love fest.
- After the group hug, I thought about asking them to form a Conga Line with me to cheer their patients up, but then I remembered about being ordered never to return to that hospital in Chicago.
- Better to stop while you’re at the top of your game.
Finally, if you’re simply dense and are still committed to treating the nurses who care for you poorly, just remember who’s “buttering your bread” while you are lying in that hospital bed:
Now go love your nurse,
P.S. Nurses, please use the “Leave a Reply” section below to add any additional thoughts. We would love to hear from you!
P.P.S. If you want to watch my sister and I eat lunch via Live in Tallahassee (as I promised last week), the link is here: Paisley Cafe lunch. We are found between 21:09 and 21:27 (it was a short lunch).
Again, note that my teeth are never shown. My sister’s are, in contrast, the star of the show. Yes, I used the whitening goo and it helped, but I still can’t compete. Here’s a screen capture from the show for proof:
© Ed Hague. All rights reserved.