“Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge”
As nurses, expectations are that we will “care” for our clients and their families, but what does that really mean? Is it an emotional attachment or bond to each and every person we encounter in our professional lives or does it refer to the physical tending that we provide? In my opinion it is a little of both.
I care for my family and friends in a loving way; they are near to my heart and I try to look after their emotional and physical wellbeing as best I can. Caring for a patient is different, I don’t have the same long term emotional bond with each person I encounter immediately, and that bond develops over time and need consistency and stability to grow. I do, however, try to have respect for everyone I encounter as a fellow human being and God’s creation. I feel that this is caring on a different level.
It’s true that it can be difficult to meet all people on the same footing; appearances and behaviors make first impressions hard to shake. I was a dental assistant before entering nursing school. I’ll never forget a patient who taught me to keep an open mind. My technique with patients during oral injections given by the dentist was to gently pat or rub their upper arm. It helped remind them that someone was there caring for them and was also a distraction technique. I had a new patient one day who drove up to the office on his tricked out Harley, wearing leathers with the name of a violent motorcycle club on the back, a black WWI style helmet and a ponytail down his back. He sat down in my chair and I could see the jailhouse tattoos on his hands and arms, skull rings on every finger, gold on one hand, silver on the other, even the finger that was missing the distal and middle phalanx. Wow. Was I going to use my “I’m there for you” arm pats on him? I didn’t even want to touch him! But in the end I did. The next week his wife came to the office for her first visit and told me that her husband thought he was well taken care of “he felt like a little boy. It made him feel like you were going to take good care of him. “It was a great lesson in the humanity in all of us, regardless of outward impressions that we all need someone to look out for our wellbeing. If I hadn’t patted his arm, his toothache would still have been treated but his perception of the visit would have been vastly different. As an example of caring, I learned to put aside “me” and think about the patient.
The physical tending we do is just as important to the return to…