Friday, February 13, 2015

Turn the Other Cheek

  I've heard somewhere that it's more effective to just turn the other cheek, and I will tell you in nursing I have learned to do it not to say that I like it, but is it really more effective? 

  The other night we were getting killed and PACU sudden calls in a panic, no surprise they are bringing over another patient and it's mine, of course.They come over and I am trying to triage the situation when I hear my charge nurse talking to someone with a very loud voice outside my room, a very loud, angry voice. I step in and introduce myself as this patients nurse and proceed to get blasted about the lack of communication and how we have kept the very worried family out in the waiting room way too long. I bite my tongue and swallow the tart response that wants to jump up, I take a deep breath and then another and explain in my calmest voice that the unit is very busy, their family member just arrived 20 minutes ago, all of which I have spent at his bedside trying to stabilize his condition. I tell them if I had had someone who could have gone out to update them I would have and apologize but we are a bit busy tonight.

  What I wanted to say was that I wasn't sorry, I have been working hard to fix your loved one and if you think my time is better spent talking to you then at their bedside then they wouldn't be here! I wanted to tell them to look at the board, see all those spots filled up and not one empty? That means we have a ton of sick people here who are more important than you. 

  But I didn't, I turned the other cheek. 
  I settled their fears and sent them home knowing their family member was safe and cared for. As is often with these sorts of encounters I promptly forgot about it.

  A week later my charge nurse handed me a small white envelope while making her rounds someone had left it for me a few days ago. Curiously I opened it to find a small pastel card inside with an unfamiliar handwriting. The card was addressed to me, thanking me for my care of their loved one and my ability to make myself available to them in such a busy time. It also apologized for their "terrible" behavior and explained that not too long ago a family member was in the same situation and did not have such a good outcome, so if I could please understand they were very very emotional, and since they knew I worked long nights please have a coffee on us. Inside was a gift card to Starbucks. 

Suddenly I knew who this was from.

Is turning the other cheek more effective? I don't know, but in this instance I am very, very glad I did. 


  1. I am also a nurse, and work in a trauma unit. There is often too many times family members forget what we (nurses) are there to do. Our main concern is not giving the family a play by play of what is going on, our concern is that person lying on the bed, sedated, bleeding, with a heart rate that doesn't look so good and blood pressures we are having a hard time controlling. I recently had a similar situation and finally had to tell the family member, "I will answer your questions as soon as your brother is stable enough for me to take my eyes off of him". I think at that moment she realized that it was not the time to ask what happened in surgery and why he has so many tubes. Nurses do not always get the immediate respect from families, they often times think we are unable to speak without a doctor giving us explicit orders; they do not understand that we are the ones keeping their loved one alive and attending to their every need. I'm glad that in your situation the family recognized your hard work, their inappropriate behavior, and even thanked you. I love being a nurse, no matter how bad it gets at times. The moments like you described make up for all the bad!

  2. For example, we are advised to go the additional mile for somebody who mishandle us and to petition God for adversaries as opposed to opposing them. The majority of this can be for the most part condensed by saying we should be immaculate all around and ought to be as pleasing as could reasonably be expected for the purpose of a lost world.

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  3. I too have been put into this similar situation. It is hard to turn the other cheek, especially when it is your patient that is cursing you out and calling you every name in the book. Being patient and always in control of your own emotions is difficult and one of the reasons for nurse burnout, but it must be done, Take a deep breath, remain calm, remove yourself from the situation and then reapporach when the patient has had time to calm down. Usually, they do apologize stating that they had a rough day and needed to vent. As a nurse it is important to vent or redirect this negative energy to prevent burnout. If you can cleanse your psyche with alternate activities, it is so much easier to "turn the other cheek" when needed.

  4. This is so touching I'm a high school student hoping to one day become a nurse and knowing that though patients and their families are so appreciative of what you do is very encouraging.

  5. do not forget to us they are patients to them they are everything! It is hard to stay calm when the fear of losing your child or mother tightens your stomach, we understand what is going on when things go from 0-100 real quick, but the family half the time do not have any medical background so try and imagine what a nightmare it is going for 20 minutes not knowing what is happening when they heard a code blue in their two year old room and doctors nurses rushed in there and ALL THEY CAN HEAR IS NO PULSE! AND THE SHOCKS JUST GETTING INCREASED! part of our job is involving family in the care we provide. this means ensuring we have at least one staff available to console and inform.

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Hi! I love to hear what you have to say but be warned I reserve the right to whip out the Iron Paw on anyone. So play nice.