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Sometimes its hard

September 27, 2007

It is hard to know where to be. Who to be. What to do. What would you do? How would you feel. Do you just feel something in your head but then if you are confronted would you feel differently?

We are learning about HIV and AIDS in school right now at the tail end of our Immune lectures. Your immune system is a complex microcosm of signals, copies, killing and life preserving.  I imagine my T cells, B cells, NK cells and the like to be wearing tiny blue track shorts with lightening bolts on them, each wearing the same bracelet so they can recognize one another, throwin up gang signs. Protecting the neighborhood. Swimming around inside my body. Personal. Just for me. Only for me and they have my back.

But then something terrible happens and you get this horrible sneaky virus that can hide out inside a white blood cell called a macrophage for  a long time and then when it feels like it—WHAPA! You are sick. And will probably eventually get sicker and sicker until  you die.

AIDS is such a complicated disease both pathologically and socially and personally and globally. I just don’t know where to begin.  Each thing I study makes me think THAT is what I want to do in nursing. Listening to my teacher talk  to us about how this disease really works, the myriad of things that happen to you when you get  it. The terrible, no good, rotten things that happen when you take the drugs that are supposed to make you well. It is just the saddest thing. Really and truly.

We had to do this exercise where we got into groups and had different scenarios all about this one case. Woman, 28 HIV+ for 8 years, 5 kids aged 7 mos. – 13 yrs,  and now has full blown AIDS. She is demented, has meningitis, only knows herself and nothing else, has no purposeful movement except to fling herself out of bed and is very sick. She is given  ❤ months to live.

One of the group questions was, “Your friend and co-worker says to you, “I am not taking that patient because of what they have”. The topic for that group was to discuss how that makes them feel and what they would do.

Their group basically said they felt this was inappropriate and that as a nurse you can’t say you are taking care of someone because you don’t like their illness, feel uncomfortable, think they deserve it…what ever. There is no good reason. You would take the patient for them so they would get the proper care, fearful that if that person is forced to care for them they might do it badly and carelessly. You would talk to them and find out why they said that. You might talk to your supervisor about it and see if they can help. Mostly you would feel sad for the woman and her family and be afraid that she is going to die. May die at anytime.

One of my classmates spoke up and said, “I wouldn’t feel sad for her. She had AIDS and had children anyway. Who cares if she dies?” and then on to say, “I wouldn’t want to care for her. How would you do that if you really didn’t want to?”

The answer is you can’t. If you take report and are assigned that patient if you leave it is abandonment.

I was stunned she said that. Most of my classmates were shocked when our teacher said that so many of the problems in poorer countries stems from a lack of information. They all snickered at the stupidity that some people think you can use a condom more than once. Or that some men think that if you have sex with  a young virgin you can be cured.

I think that they really do not realize how little most of the rest of the world lives without as we sit in our nice, clean, well lit, professional classroom discussing these issues as though they are merely  a stat on a page.

On of my classmates spoke up when our teacher asked if anyone else would think anything differently. One of my most admired classmates (I would want him as a nurse if I were sick…)  said, “Well, I would be angry. I would be very angry at my friend and co-worker. One because you can’t do that to a patient. That is not your job. It is the opposite of your job and two that they think so little of their co-workers that they would say it was too unsafe for them but they are fine to force me into harms way.”

I thanked him for speaking up.

Our teacher wanted us to know that we are treating people. Not just diseases and said that she hoped and thought that is why most of us got into nursing. To help humanity. To care for those who can not care for themselves.

As trite and ridiculous it may seem, that is the very thing I am most looking forward to. Selfishly I think it will be amazing to help people. To have the power to contribute to their wellness. Comfort them when they are ill or scared. To be managing their care so that a doctor may order the right meds and tests to keep the person on the track of well being.

Life is so complicated and nursing just makes me

1. More of an atheist

2. In love with most of mankind

3. Accepting the fact that many people just really totally suck

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2007 2:22 am

    Cole, it seems like you are absorbing so much new information with all your senses, intellect and emotions in such a short time period, it’s just really intense and I feel for you because it can be overwhelming, but your heart is in exactly the right place and you have a steady moral compass and you will be such a great nurse, I’m so excited for you because I can tell it really is your calling and you get so much back from caring for people; that’s why I usually love my work. Nice post. Interesting to hear about the specifics of your training.

  2. caroline permalink
    September 27, 2007 11:33 pm

    you can be my nurse anytime.
    young atheist, if there is a god, it resides in the care you show for your fellow human being.

  3. September 29, 2007 2:48 pm

    I came here from the individual voice. I’m a nurse and have found the same sort of thing with coworkers, judgements up the wazoo. You sound like the kind of nurse who can put themselves in their patient’s shoes, that’s a good thing.

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