Thursday, October 16, 2014
Nursing circa 1980 ish
I graduated from Nursing school in 1980.
Most of what I learned about nursing was learned on the job,
The classroom gave me the foundation,
My protocol, My ethical framework.
When you start out,
You must develop your own expectations.
Working for hospitals for 15 years,
It took me too long to learn that lesson.
They said, go there, do that,
Don't question (I did anyway),
Don't complain (I did anyway),
In the early 1980's, several diseases emerged:
HIV and Hepatitis C.
Both transmitted by blood and body fluids.
Both were labelled as mysteries until more became known,
As more people died, got sick.
As nurses on the front line of the sickest,
We had no protective gear back then.
We had to even nag for gloves.
Chemo waste went down the drain.
Radiation I have been exposed to: never measured...
Trust me to say it was a lot when you want none.
I stabbed myself with plenty of dirty needles,
Carelessy re-capping needles,
fumbling in the dark to restart an IV,
Finding a mystery needle in bed linens,
Always sharp end first.
Even new machines,
Sometimes missing an essential piece.
We had no time to complain and no one to complain to,
The patient took front seat,
The doctor needed our support,
I'm the only RN on tonight for 27 patients.
Neurology/Male Urology and overflow from other units.
An LPN to give meds and aided to turn, clean people and check vital signs.
The doctors home in bed or over in the doctor residence hall.
There is a finesse to calling doctors,
Especially at night.
You had to learn who wanted to be called,
When a resident doctor should be called.
Ultimately the nurse is responsible,
So with all the hooplah about Ebola,
I will say there are contagious diseases which pose more threats to spreading. Like Flu, Meningitis, HPV.
Many diseases have immunizations.
As I look back to the day when suddenly we admitted young wasted away thin, sick looking men who came for a work up.
When HIV was finally discovered to be the culprit, People became hysterical. No one wanted this disease.
Non A, Non B Hepatitis became Hepatitis C. Another mystery.
No special precautions at first....
Universal Precautions came from this experience.
If you touch blood or body fluids, anticipate and wear gloves,
Stay a good distance away from a cougher.
Grow up, nurse.
We all had to take responsibility at some point.
Do not blame nurses, or doctors or patients.
Ebola is a virus.