Today’s clinical was an emotionally draining day. My patient was an African-American woman in her fifties, in with a Lupus exacerbation that covered her arms with sores. It literally looked like her skin was sloughing off – there were dark scabs, bright red areas and skin just hanging off her (like when you peel skin after a sunburn). It was extremely painful for her, but very interesting for me and Brenda the wound care nurse. On the surface, my day was full and fairly easy – I was able to administer oral medications on my own (I felt like an old pro, and it really boosted my confidence) and I gave several injections due to the patient’s diabetes. Later on in the day I dressed the client’s sores on her back, chest and abdomen.
Although I only had one patient, I still felt like I was being pulled in 20 different directions and at the end of the day I was wondering how I would ever be able to take care of multiple patients. After talking with a classmate, we decided that a lot of what we as nursing students do with some patients – vital signs, Accuchecks, hygiene – are usually done by techs. This is slightly sad in a way, because doing those tasks for my patient is usually what builds a rapport with them. I guess as my role changes over the next year I’ll learn to adapt and connect with the patient in a different way.
I previously mentioned that it was an emotionally draining day – it didn’t seem that way at the hospital, but I think I just bury everything in order to provide the best care for my patient. Between my patient, who was extremely sweet and in so much pain, and a classmate’s patient, who has an extremely rare form of cancer and was very comfortable with her ileostomy, I just was expending a lot of empathy. I came home and crashed on the couch, watching Mercy on television, and promptly cried (but then it was out of my system). I know that I’m an emotional person, and I wonder how becoming a nurse will affect that part of me – whether I’ll be able to handle all the emotions, or if I’ll become callused to people. I think that as I mature as a nurse, it will come – at least that is what I hope.
Overall, a really good day. I got to see something completely new, cement what we’ve learned in class about Lupus, and be there emotionally and physically for my patient. I hope next semester’s clinical will be as rewarding as this semester’s has been.