Recently, my mother, who has osteoarthritis, had a procedure done in a government facility. It was a long way from home and my parents had to wake up at around 7 AM to make the trip, making it hard for my mother who already had pains in practically all of her limbs and then some.
Imagine my fury when my mother came back home and recounted what a terrible experience she had!
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most important diagnostic procedure, providing clearer images of your body’s circulatory and skeletal systems than those you can get from X-rays or CT scans. However, one of the things that makes it difficult was the fact that you have to lie completely still for anywhere around half an hour to nearly two. My mother—who was in pain in nearly every part of her body— first thought she could handle it, thinking that the procedure wouldn’t take so long (not that anyone explained that to her clearly). But come thirty minutes later, the pain was becoming a little too much and she started calling for attention, only to get reassurances that she “only needed to lie for fifteen more minutes, and that she “just needed to hang on a little longer.”
Forty five minutes afterwards with no help or relief in sight for her overwhelming pain, my mother begun to cry. The cold, mechanical display the technicians and other involved healthcare personnel showed to my mother was appalling and disgusting. Did it really mean so little to them to see their patient reduced to tears, barely able to stand and hurting like hell because they couldn’t be bothered to do something about it? Was it too hard for them to suggest to the doctor to give my mother something to numb the pain? Was it too much to ask for them to show a little bit of compassion?
Would they have been able to remain the same if it was their mother writhing in agony on that MRI bed?
If this experience has taught me anything, it taught me two valuable lessons.
One is to never let my parents go on important diagnostic procedures like that alone again. I’m cool with healthcare professionals making minor mistakes, having made several of them myself in my career, and understanding whenever they can’t be around my family as much as it is ideal. But I cross the line with gross incompetence and even worse, outright lack of consideration. And when I cross lines, I usually carry a machete with me. (OK maybe not, but I don’t really need that to lay down the hurt. :P)
And second is that as a nurse, showing compassion is important no matter what and where you are. It’s an extra mile, sure, but if someone had made that for my mother, that someone would have been a hero in her eyes. Patients aren’t just machines that need a wrench in and a hammer there to fix what’s wrong with them. They’re humans who think, feel and appreciate. They have families who care for them, families who are putting the lives of their precious ones in their hands.
Something I am guilty of forgetting every now and then but am always reminded of at the end of the day. Nursing is more than a job, more than an art. It is the outpouring of the goodness of your heart to heal another as completely as possible.
You can’t be a nurse—or part of the healthcare industry—if you don’t have a heart.