Chocolate Kiss

Theresa Brown, RN captures the feeling of a busy hospital unit and the temptations that lurk in the break room…

A Hershey’s kiss can be exactly what I need to make the day feel better, especially since lunchtime has long passed and I haven’t had time to eat.

The truth is, though, I try to eat sparingly because I learned early in the job that stress eating is an occupational hazard. Having our conference room filled with doughnuts and caramel corn makes it all too easy to, as we say, “eat my feelings,” rather than just feeling them.

She thanks the patients and families who show their appreciation with home-made cookies or a box of candy. With all the stress patients and families go through it is really amazing how often they take time to give a word of thanks and encouragement to the staff.

The last time I worked inpatient, in a nursing home, I kind of dreaded the holidays. With the kindest of intentions families would send boxes of chocolate that I seldom managed to resist for the full eight hours. Especially when it was so often impossible to find time for a meal break.

Reading between the lines, Ms. Brown describes a work pace that is taxing, constant, and stressful, without time to rest, eat or drink some water. Heck, there’s hardly time to go to the bathroom. I used to kind of envy the smokers, because they managed to take their ten minutes off the unit.

Skipping break was not a badge of honor. You tried to be efficient enough to have time to eat. You didn’t advertise that shift after shift you used that thirty minutes just to keep up.

In the normal course of things, there will be times when a lot of people are sick all at once and everyone is flat out busy. When every day is like that there’s something wrong. Nurses work, and not only RN’s but LPN’s and CNA’s, is overloaded, with staff spread thin.

You really see the best of people when you work in nursing. The courage of patients and families stays with me. Even sitting here with nothing worse than a bad cold I think of the people I meet who feel sick every day, and how seldom they complain.

One of the commenters to Ms.Brown’s article suggests that families might want to send a card or a note to the unit and the boss, and I second that. While all acts of kindness are appreciated, these notes are read and have an impact. When some consultant comes along and decides to make the staff ‘leaner and meaner’ they will go over every aspect of the job looking for ‘fat to trim’. Those cards and letters mean a great deal then.

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2 responses

  1. I spent some time in the ICU at the VA Hospital-twice and also on regular wards-I had some great nurses including two who sided with me and got a hold of an attending surgeon when I was resisting having an unecessary treatment procedure that carries a high risk of infection in lieu of what I knew would work.It was being forced on me by a snotty first year resident-the attending surgeon knew me from before and understood the situation and she decided to go with what I thought would work better at lower risk,and guess what-the problem resolved with the less aggressive treatment.
    Point being,those nurses knew their jobs and had my back.
    I also had a nurse tell three surgical residents how to treat pain from a damaged trigeminal nerve I had from surgery(temporary)when it semed they were out of options and morphine wasn’t helping.I can’t take Toridol,so it looked craappy,but she told them to use Dilaudid(much more punch with a much smaller dose)and it was like night and day.
    Nurses are OK in my book.

  2. thanks.

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