There are definitely tangible and intangible benefits to being a nurse—especially when your body is on the cutting edge of the scalpel and your colleagues are there for you. I discovered just how special that is when my gallbladder decided on staging a full-scale attack in early January.
It didn't exactly start with a classic presentation: I had nausea, fever, body aches, and a feeling of epigastric fullness. There was no pain initially, so I figured it was a G.I. bug.
On day 3 of this illness, I felt a little better and ate a cup of soup. That's all it took—the vomiting started and so did the unmistakable right upper quadrant pain. At 4:00 a.m., I gave up trying to stubbornly care for myself and had my husband drive me to my ED.
There's a great sense of comfort in knowing and trusting the people caring for you. That extended from the ED nurses to the emergency physician and the surgeon, whom I personally requested—though he wasn't on-call, he still came in and rearranged his schedule to take me to the OR right away. The sense of true caring by the staff continued through the OR, recovery area, and surgical nursing unit. It made a scary and uncomfortable situation infinitely more tolerable.
Turns out I had a single gallstone that was described by a surgical colleague as a behemoth. It was lodged in the neck of my common bile duct, completely blocking it.
As I reflect on this unanticipated event, I'm thankful I was home when the symptoms began. Sure—this was a straightforward surgical problem that could be well managed in most hospitals if I'd been traveling. The difference is that I wouldn't have had the degree of trust I felt if I were anywhere else. That's an insider's gift.
I thought about how patients who aren't insiders or connected to hospital family must feel in similar or worse situations. It was a poignant reminder that working hard to inspire a sense of comfort and trust is incredibly important when we care for patients. It simply can't be taken for granted. It's not just about what we do—it's how we make people feel that they remember.
With sincere thanks to my Christiana Care team—
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2014 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.