On Friday I spent three sinful hours hiking in the Oakland hills. It was the first time I've been on the trail since the program began six weeks ago. That's not good. Being in the woods is like going to church for me, and I get to pee where ever I like. It's a god thing.
On Thursday we made our first trip to the hospital. My cohort of nursing students will be spending the next ten weeks at a hospital in the East Bay. The nurses were really nice to us, making a point of welcoming us and letting us know they were happy we would be there this summer. That felt great.
On Wednesday we met our clinical instructor for our first of three clinical skills intensives. We really lucked out with her; she's completely committed to our having a great experience in this hospital. We began the day with a little ice-breaker consisting of three questions. One of them was, "What is a fear you have about starting clinicals?" The other students had responses like,
"I'm afraid I'll give the wrong meds."
"I'm afraid I'll freeze up and won't know what to do."
I said, "Poop. I'm afraid of the poop."
Ya gotta understand, the night before I had watched an instructional video that showed a nurse wiping a patients butt. I just wasn't ready for that. Now, I've seen Hellraiser, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and even the Simpsons. I can take gratuitous with the best of them. But the poop...
Actually, I'm not afraid of poop. It's the wiping of the butt that kinda freaks me out. As a single man with no kids, I've only changed about 20 diapers, and those were OPK's (Other People's Kids). I'm still on my learning curve here. I'm sure that after a few swipes it'll be like a walk in the park.
And it's not even about the butt. It's about being with people who are really vulnerable and fragile, and about how much they really need me. Sure, it feels good to be needed. but this is different, somehow. It's a different kind of neediness, a different kind of vulnerability. And maybe it's about the responsibility that comes with meeting someone's needs. And the trust, the trust that this person is giving you. Trust given, not earned, is much more precious.
So I'm standing there in the supply closet, listening to our clinical instructor tell us about the syringes, commodes, and IV pumps, and all of a sudden, it hits me. And as it's hitting me, I turn around and look into the room across the hall. Two nurses are behind a curtain with a patient. All I can see of the patient is his foot, flying in the air, flailing around as the nurses try to wash him and change his sheets. It hits me and I smile. I smile on the inside and on the outside.
I really am becoming a nurse.
Poop and all.
So what is (or was) YOUR biggest fear about becoming a nurse?
(or whatever kind of work you do)
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