Nurses: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of an extended hospital stay knows that the nursing staff can either make your visit as comfortable as possible – or a living hell on Earth.

Below are just a few pleasant – and some not so pleasant – experiences I’ve had:

The Good

  • After a few months of dehydration ravaging my lips, I had a male nurse apply lip gloss to them (with a brush!) because they were severely chapped.  He noted that he had never done that before – and his application method was a testament to that.  But still, it was so sweet – and so comical – of him to do that.
  • Christmas was one of many holidays I had spent in the hospital.  My then ICU nurse wore a festive reindeer/antler hat that lit up, and brought Christmas movies for me to watch.  She made the fact that I was spending my Christmas in an ICU hooked up to tubes (and not being able to talk or move) less depressing.
  • During my Summer 2013 hospital stay, I was put on some anti depressants that really messed me up.  I would be paranoid and freak out constantly.  Since I was on edge, a chair/cot was brought in so my mother could sleep over (and also since we lived an hour outside of the city) to keep me comforted.
  • After about 3 months of being in the ICU, my leg and armpit hair rivaled that of a gorilla (eww), so one of my nurses asked my mother if she could bring some wax/razors so that the nurse could ‘de-fuzz’ me (lol).  Although I couldn’t move, feel or see how unkempt I was, having a hygiene regimen, outside of teeth brushing/sponge bathing, made me feel like a human again (a female human lol).

The Bad

  • A nurse I went to high school with was assigned to my room on a few occasions.  On those particular days I was suffering from – ahem – number 2 issues and was using a bedside commode.  She was a good nurse, I was just mortified that someone I knew had to tidy up after me in that regard.  Talk about embarrassing.
  • I once had fallen on the floor from my hospital bed one night.  I was calling for the nurses, but no one heard me.  15 minutes later someone finally came in to help me back into bed.  Those mere minutes of pure helplessness felt like an eternity.  This wasn’t particularly the nurse’s fault, but since those moments were so traumatizing (you really have to be in a similar situation to understand), I ended up associating the two together.
  • A nurse was very rude to my mother’s request to stay overnight (while I was having those aforementioned meltdowns) when it had always been allowed before.  She accused my mother’s presence as being counterproductive.  My mother did end up spending the night – in the waiting room.

The Ugly

  • Unable to move with little to no strength, I had slid down a bit in bed and needed to be lifted.  A nurse came in an told me that she wouldn’t “break her back” lifting me and that I needed to do it myself.  Did I mention I was unable to move?  That I didn’t even have the strength to move my arms?  That this was my first day out of the ICU after 3 months?  That I was covered in tubes and looked as if I belonged to the Borg Collective? Yeah…
  • At one point when I started to become mobile, I would need to ring for a nurse to assist me to sit and stand from bed to use the washroom.  I rang for the nurse – no one came.  10 minutes later I rang again – no one came.  Approximately 30-40 minutes after I first pressed the call button, and 3 attempts to do so, I could not hold my bladder anymore and had an accident in bed.  When the nurse FINALLY came, they were not very pleased that they had to change my sheets.  It was later overheard that they claimed I had purposely wet the bed because I did not want to get up to go to the washroom.  Right…
  • When I was in constant excrutiating pain from Plexopathy’s nerve/back/leg pain, I would end up crying out in pain some moments when the pain was intolerable.  At one point, a nurse (she wasn’t even my nurse) came in and rudely told me to “Be quiet.  You will wake other patients” rather than ask what my issue was, and how she could help.  Shocked, and still in immense pain, I tried to stifle my cries.  She barged into my room again and told me that “Whimpering was passive aggressive”.  What on earth does that even mean?  Just because you are having a crappy day, please don’t take it out on someone sick and obviously in pain…

For every rude, miserable and mean nurse, there are at least 50 wonderful and amazing ones.  If you are employed in the healthcare industry, you must remember that most patients are there because they are SICK.  If you are frustrated with another patient/a co worker/something in general, etc.  please don’t take it out on your other patients.  Most of the time they feel like they are a burden to begin with, and snarky attitudes further add to that feeling.

To the countless nurses I have had that were amazing and friendly, I give you a huge thank you!  Being in the hospital was not a pleasant experience, but thank you for trying to make it the best for me – and for all your other patients.  You really have no idea how much of an impact on a life a smile, friendly attitude and little patience can have.

Thanks for reading.  Diane.

My set of hospital bears that were gifted to me during one of my extended visits.

My set of hospital bears that were gifted to me during one of my extended visits.

Finding comfort with Hello Kitty while in the hospital.

  1. 10 years ago

    Its great that you share your insight into these issues and aspects of life that many of us havent experienced. I agree with you that to be working in that field, a person must understand that patients are in delicate situations physically and mentally, and they cannot make the experiences about themselves. They need to be caring and put their troubles aside to make sure they are capable of assisting and caring for the people that need them so much. I love you!

    • 10 years ago

      Every time I was in the hospital, there was a patient on my floor that always caused a commotion. Whether they were screaming out for help to just get some attention (this actually did happen) or whatever, it’s unfair to group all patients into that “wanting attention” category that I had felt that one nurse telling me to ‘shut up’ when I was in pain did.

      It made me try to stifle and notify anyone when my pain meds were wearing off and that I needed help, because I desperately did not want to seem like I was doing it just for attention, or whatever. And in fact that probably attributed to me spending EXTRA time in the hospital because they were so perplexed at what was actually wrong with me. How insane is that?

      These nurses don’t realize how much of an effect (positive or negative) they have on people’s lives. If they can’t handle it then they should find employment in another field.


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