The grass ain’t always greener: A nurse’s narrative

The grass ain’t always greener: A nurse’s narrative

There are times when I think about what side of the pain I would rather be on, when you have to deliver bad news to a patient or their family. Do envy the provider, who can deliver the news and be genuinely sorry, but have the chance to walk away, in the end? Am I supposed to find contentment in being the one who must stay there and be a silent keeper of broken souls, hopes, and dreams for 8 hours, 10 hours, or 12 hours?

One day I realized that I don’t envy the providers side of what patients feel are death sentences. Yes they walk away, but I know they walk away with heavy hearts. Though their body leaves a situation, often times their minds and thoughts linger. So many of them, no matter how brilliant or efficient they may be, go home asking themselves, “could I have done more?”

The fact of the matter is, that they (providers) may have had to deal out “death sentences” or drop the proverbial “bomb” on people multiple times in one day. People that they’ve just met, patients that’s they known for years. I had a friend friend who told me sometimes he goes home, after a rough day, feeling like the grim reaper. So I don’t envy the providers, instead I gladly remain in my role as the keeper of broken things and spirits. The one who tries to help everyone navigate the treacherous sea of the unknown, without being drowned myself. For no matter how bad the news may be or how broken-hearted the patient and their family are, the heaviness of the diagnosis doesn’t sleep on my chest at night. I don’t own the pain that physicians, and PAs, and NPs sometimes feel.

Some providers tell me, in turn, they don’t envy the role of nursing staff. The people who must endure with the patients after bad news. The people who must face the grief, head on for hours upon hours. The ones who have to deal with the lashes of anger and frustration that sometimes come with bad news. The ones that must guide people back to normal life, when their life has been irrevocably changed!

What this has taught me is that we all have our burdens to bear, in healthcare. The saying that the grass isn’t always greener is truer than we think. And the only thing we can do in the face of tragedy is try to be what people need, even if they don’t always know what they need themselves.

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