When Life Hands You Lemons
I really try not to get attached to my patients but it is so darn hard sometimes. Especially when you get a patient who has been dealt a bad hand. I know they say that when life hands you lemons just make lemonade. Well it was hard for me to see the bright side in one particular situation.
The patient was a 20 year old male who was left a quadriplegic after a gun shot wound a year ago. When the ER called me to give report and said gun shot wound I immediately thought it could be gang related. We see so many young males left debilitated from gang related violence so I assumed this was the same. However, I was wrong. When the transporter brought the patient up to our floor and I looked at him all I could think was “wow, he is just a baby”. He had just turned 20 that evening but had to spend the majority of his birthday in the hospital. So sad.
As I was getting this patient checked in and going through all the paperwork I learned what happened the day he was shot. He said that his cousin came over to his house and was high on drugs. He was playing around with a gun and accidentally shot him in the neck. The bullet severed his spinal cord and left him permanently paralyzed. He said as soon as the bullet hit him his body immediately went numb and he instantly lost feeling and couldn’t move. He was only 18 when it happened.
This young man had his world rocked on that tragic day. At 6’7″ he had dreams of playing college basketball, but that dream was snatched.
I couldn’t help but feel for him. He was admitted to the hospital for a UTI which is a common issue for quadriplegics. But he was very well taken care. He told me his mother was a nurse and it was evident. His skin was intact. No signs of pressure ulcers which is also common for quads.
When he told me his mother was younger than me that’s when it really hit home. He was young enough to be my son. As a mother my heart was breaking for his circumstances. I couldn’t help but think of my own son.
Although I felt very bad for him, it made feel a little better that his mother was able to provide him with wonderful care. The majority of the paralyzed patients I’ve taken care of have pressure ulcers and bed sores so badly infected that they are repeatedly hospitalized. They don’t have someone that can be there around the clock to clean them and reposition them.
I pray that if I was ever put in a situation like this that I would have the means and resources to provide the best care for my loved one. While I love being a nurse I know that it will never set me financially free. Having a Plan B helps.
You never know when it’s going to be your turn to make lemonade.
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Tasha Nelson is a registered nurse who works the night shift at a large midwest hospital. She is total wellness enthusiast who firmly believes in the importance of taking care of yourself. Nurses spend the majority of their time serving others but often put themselves on the “back burner”. It is possible to be a night shift nurse and feel good and look great!