Today at work my two worlds sort of collided. I don’t really know how to express it but I will try.
I can’t talk much about my work other than that I am a renal nurse and part of the community dialysis team doing peritoneal dialysis. Mainly for professionalism and patient confidentiality etc it nots appropriate to go into much detail but I will try to explain and write what I experienced today as I think it is important and want to share it.
Having spent a lot of time in hospital and having your independence taken away from you, your control removed, your life dictated by a medical regime or by medics you feel a total loss of control which is why I love my job so much. We promote patient independence and actively support our patients to manage their condition themselves and carry ut their treatment in their own homes. We are always there for support when needed and to provide that helping hand when things get too much or something goes wrong. But sometimes we don’t realise that by providing support we are also taking independence and control away from the patient. They then have to be about for us as though we are doing them a favour by helping them not realising that this is their life but our job.
We forget this sometimes. I have to admit I forget this and I have had personal experience of being the patient who has to hang about all day because a nurse needs to come round to flush my PICC or give me IVs etc (this was a number of years ago) but I remember the frustration I felt when they said they would be there at a time and would arrive a few hours later. As a nurse now I know they would have had other patients and other more pressing issues may have cropped up but having had this experience I always try and ale sure I notify my patients if times are going to change because although we are helping them to keep their independence and self management, by not communicating with them about something small like times can become a real hinderance.
I had a long conversation with a relative today about this communication or lack of and self control etc and realised that I not only love my job because I love every aspect of peritoneal dialysis but it is also because it is a treatment which the patient is at the centre. If they don’t do their treatment it is them who suffers but they have control of when to do it and where. They have that control of their bodies treatment.
I reflected a lot on my drive home about how little we actually communicate sometimes and it is not often the major issues that need communicating but the smaller ones such as time or what is going to happen on a visit. I had too easily forgotten that I once was a patient like that (not a dialysis patient but for my asthma). I hated it. I couldn’t live how I wanted to because I had to wait for the nurses to turn up and therefore could not plan my day incase I missed them. The control was taken away, the independence was gone despite the whole point of the setup I was in as a patient and as a nurse is to promote independence and home therapy rather than hospital.
There is so much I could write about this but I have defiantly reflected today on my own experience as a patient and why I became the nurse I am which I sometimes am not always. I must try to think about the impact on my patients as though it is myself in that position again and remember how much I hated it and longed to be able to be free from the system- the system I now work in ironically!!!