I could relate to so many areas in my nursing career when my own sense of calm was essential to maintain a feeling of reassurance, control, guidance and comfort to others
One's own feelings rarely were allowed to show and yet the memories remain. The times when the real feelings were shown were rare in public, yet I hope people could sense my empathy.
Maintaining a professional barrier sometimes was lowered and personal emotions were occasionally glimpsed in those nearby. A brief chat with fellow staff often helped alleviate feelings and certainly in the privacy of home and a very understanding partner I could talk about my true feelings in handling sensitive situations which would pull on my heartstrings. The situations did not go away quickly and many a night I would have hours of disturbed sleep, thinking of the people in my care, returning to work the next day, quietly confident and reassuring and hopefully instilling the same feelings to those in my care and also those I worked with.
So many memories, the little girl and her Jewish family, where death intervened as echoes of Happy New Year could be heard from the street below; the emergency department in Melbourne city hospital; the overdoses; the people who had the mysterious headache that enabled them to be admitted, thus giving them a place to stay for the night. Running with an orderly through the tunnels underneath the hospital with a patient on a trolley heamorrhaging, hoping we could get him to theatre before he died, trying to tell him it’s okay. Being first on the scene of a car accident with three fatalities, others desperately needing assistance and miles from help.
In latter years I have worked at the Benalla Hospital and in aged care. Resuming work at Benalla hospital after a brief break, amongst quite a few changes I was shocked to find new laws to protect drug addicts from using dirty needles meant hospitals were responsible for providing clean syringes and needle packs when requested. We were not to judge and of course always maintain the confidentiality of the client. To hand over a pack of needles and syringes, which thankfully didn’t happen every day, was so difficult. Knowing some of the clients, I felt complicit, but remained impassive. There was nothing I could do to change the request.
I eventually moved into working in aged care where I helped care for the same people over a period of time, many years for some. Working in this environment was like being with and caring for an extended family. I felt privileged to play a small part in these people’s lives and many times shared emotions with patients and families. The barrier was breaking down.