Ok. Your turn. Comments needed please :)

I have been asked to talk to a class of nursing students about being a cancer patient.  Now obviously, I do have my own take on this, but I also take this responsibility very seriously and want to help them as much as I can.  What I need are stories and anecdotes of things that your nurses (ER, hospital, oncology, etc) did right.  Negative stories are ok too, I just think the best way to reach a group of students is through the positive stuff.  (Yeah, it’s the elementary teacher in me.)

For example, when I was at the breast care center having my biopsy done, the ultrasound tech from my mammogram the day before came to find me and show her support and then came back later after my diagnosis.  Little stuff like that really made a difference for me.

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9 Responses to Ok. Your turn. Comments needed please :)

  1. whymommy says:

    A chemo nurse monitors the Young Survivors group at my hospital; she comes every month for an hour or two, and it makes all the difference in the world. Rumors are explained, fears are lessened, and new patients see a friendly face the first day they walk into the chemo ward.

    Other tips: Chemo patients in wheelchairs are likely newly there; they’ll do better if not left alone in hallways (for instance).

    Chemo patients often bring comfort items from home, since they’re in the hospital so often. Please ask me about my kids, but please don’t move the pictures yourself or take them away.

    Cookies always welcome. 🙂

    Good luck on your talk!

  2. Sarah S. says:

    The one thing that really made a difference for me was the nurse at my breast center. She was so wonderful and helpful. She always told me how pretty I looked and was complimentory on my recovery. She made it personal everytime I saw her. She was also a breast cancer survivor and knew exacly how I felt. So I guess that helped. I would say to tell them to imagine themselves in the same situation and to treat the patient the same way.

  3. tracya says:

    i am a nurse and i wish someone like you had come and talked to me about what it is like to be a patient when i was in school.
    after 15 years of critical care nursing and taking care of lots of patients with cancer and other very life threatening illness i think i have the right mix of compassion and skills that make my patients feel comfortable.

    but i wish i could apologize to some of the people i cared for when i started out…i just didn’t get it.

    love the blog ladies and send you all healthy, healing karma

  4. In Israel, the hospitals are understaffed, and the nurses are overworked.

    I cannot express how much I value the nurses who, even when they are being pulled in a thousand different directions, are still gentle and patient.

  5. Brenda says:

    I recently was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and had surgery 3 weeks ago. When I woke up in my room from the surgery I was in so much pain. The surgery had taken longer than expected, I had all my kids, husband, mom and dad all wanting to come in and see me to make sure I was okay. I knew they needed reassuring but I knew I couldn’t have them see me in such pain. This very young nurse stayed with me, trying everything to get me comfortable, never getting impatient. I never expected to be in so much pain waking up from the surgery, I figured I would still be under major medication so it was as much of a shock as the diagnosis just a few weeks before. She stayed with me for hours and would go out only to tell my family that I loved them and was okay, but having a difficult time getting comfortable. At one point she asked me if she wanted her to go and get some more pillows, and I was so afraid to have her leave me, and asked her to please just stay. She did. She moved me every way possible trying to find a comfortable position. Finally after many hours the morphine kicked in and I fell asleep. I never saw nothing but patience from this nurse and compassion. She came by every day to see how I was doing, and offer encouragement, asking if I had walked that day and congratulating me on my small victories. You truly don’t know how much a caring nurse can be when you feel so helpless and in pain and still in shock from finding out you have cancer.

  6. tracya says:

    brenda, i think you made a very good point, nurses need to know what you need. i have have been a patient and i clearly remember my nurses “being there” for me.

    i think all of you have a lot to say to your medical team and to your families…after all is said and done, we are here to support you.

    don’t ever be afraid to say what you need and don’t ever apologize for changing your mind.

    fear and pain go hand in hand….reach out to those that can help, we want to help you through.

  7. Jill Aldrich says:

    Two experiences come to mind:

    I called my radiologist to make an ultrasound appointment to explore a new lump. She got me on the schedule as the first appointment the next day. Her responsiveness was incredible.

    My gynecological oncologist, who recently performed my uterine biopsy, explained the procedure in graphic, complete detail before proceeding. “I know this is obnoxious,” she said, in the middle of the process. It actually wasn’t because she had taken the time to consider and respect my feelings. Her compassion and her expertise essentially eliminated all fear.

  8. kelly says:

    I only remember a very few bad nurse memories. The others were all wonderful. I really appreciated it when one of them would slow down for a minute and ask me how I was doing, give me a chance to ask questions and even follow-up questions!

    I think the most profound moment with a nurse was when I was particularly miserable during hospitalization for stem cell transplant. I had been able until this day to maintain my cheerful, “no everything’s fine” facade up until this moment. I distinctly remember that fleeting moment when I acknowledged to myself that I was miserable, scared, angry. I began crying (the “I want my mommy” kind of crying). My nurse was able to stay with me, remain calm and reassuring, and even rubbed my back. I think thats all I really needed at that moment of vulnerability – not meds.

  9. Judy Groner says:

    hi i recently (last year) needed a bilateral mastectomy for my 2nd episode of breast cancer, both caught early. I was brought up to the ‘floor’ after a pleasant recovery room stay – but I came up during change of shift. The nurses were too busy to help me. They did not have my PCA pump (for patient controlled pain medication) set up; they just weren’t ready to go. My dilaudid (pain medication) ran out, and I was hurting pretty badly. It just took so long for them to get their act together – like about 2 hours of acute post surgical pain before I got what i needed.

    Message for nurses: When you have a post op patient coming up to your floor, change of shift or not (and this doesn’t matter if the diagnosis is cancer surgery or not), be ready. it doesn’t feel good to be lying there with no pain medication! And this shouldn’t be so difficult to do!

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