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Bed baths

This week at work had been crazy in general (work in always interesting) but this week was even more so.  I left on time once.  Monday. Twice I was there until midnight.  2 hours after my shift is over.  Winning.  I don’t even mean that sarcastically because the truth is I could have been finished and left at 10 if I had done just my treatments and went home,but I spent hours with family members and residents this week being their counselor, their friend, their groomer, and their masseuse. The impact that I have on not only my resident’s but also their family members is why I chose to go into nursing and why I am so passionate about geriatrics.  Last night gave me a little of everything.  I had to do an in and out cath on an incontinent resident for a urine analysis and I couldn’t find her urethra.  Twice a cathed her vagina, something I haven’t done since my first try in nursing school.  So I went to get help from another nurse.  The 2 of us searched for 10 min, using a flashlight the resident gave us to help see (She sleeps with it every night)  Then we cathed her vagina again.  Ready to give up and go get the nursing supervisor I put everything away and start to leave when she days she has to pee and could we please put her on a bed pan.  We raced to get her a bed pan and wouldn’t you know she almost filled that thing with pee?  As she was peeing I got hit with the serious case of the giggles because all I could think was, where the hell is she peeing from?  Her secret urethra?.  Then she asks of the other nurse and I are related.  The other nurse is African.  I told her that we were sisters and she said that she thought so because we looked so much alike.  Then she told us that we were both beautiful.  I really love this resident.  Then I had someone try to give me money for taking care of a resident.  I was so uncomfortable.  I was just like no thanks I’m already getting paid to, you know, do my job.  It did feel good to be recognized as a family members favorite nurse.  Then as I am scrambling to get finished on time I hear screaming.  I go to investigate and discover a resident is completely soiled but will not let anyone clean her up or change her.  It is so bad that she needs a total bed bath and linen change.  My CNAs and MA are all trying to talk to her and calm her down but she was having none of it.  I told them to leave and go tend to other residents and that I would take care of her.  Then I went down the hall and gathered up fresh linens, a basin, soap, and towels and walked into her room.  I don’t know why but without even talking to her before getting the supplies I felt confident that she was going to let me bath her and change her.  When I walked in, she smiled and said, “Hey there sweetie.  I’m so glad you’re here.”  Relief and pride filled me.  I took my time with her to gently wash every inch with clean, warm, soapy water.  Drying as I went so that she wouldn’t get cold.  She turned for me, lifted her hips the best she could, and thanked me over and over.  After she was clean and dry I rubbed lotion on her arms and hands rubbing it and massaging her muscles and aching joints.  It took me over 30 minutes to do her by myself, but I enjoyed it.  Giving her a bed bath and seeing her visibly relax and become happier brought me back to the roots of nursing and why I’m a nurse.  It brought me back to the days when I was a CNA.  Being a nurse with so much work makes it so difficult sometimes to actually see the patients.  The paperwork and charting is draining and time consuming. I hate it, and always put it off until all my resident’s are in bed.  Occasionally I do get frustrated with a resident, then I look at their smile, or or they shock me by asking how I’m doing.  That always gets me, because a lot of times nobody asks the nurse how she is, well with the exception of my residents.  Then again maybe I shouldn’t be shocked because my residents are the most special in the world.  Now I’m just bragging, so I’ll stop. Soon.  The reason that I wanted to share this is because last night reminded me of something said during one of the nursing graduation speeches, “There is no simpler way to make someone feel better then to give them a really good bed bath.” It’s the truth.  And so the next time someone makes a smart remark to me about how I’m an ass wiper, I won’t get annoyed.  I’ll instead think that they have a sorry life because they will never know the joy that I have from having another person trust me to see every inch of them in any condition without shame or embarrassment.  That is  more important then passing pills and changing dressings.  The nurse/patient relationship is everything.

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