Defiant Nurse Saved My Sanity with ‘Old-School’ Approach

Defiant Nurse Saved My Sanity with ‘Old-School’ Approach


I sometimes think the old-school way is the best-school way. I want the technology, research and all that comes with making progress with lupus treatments. However, when you are dealing with medical professionals, a little old-school goes a long way.

Doctors with great bedside manners seem to be fleeting in today’s hospital and medical centers. It seems as if it’s more of a co-pay-churn-them-in-and-out type care. Recently, I spent a week in the hospital where the doctors come in once a day to poke, prod and ask all the pertinent questions. I will say that my medical team does have a great way of making sure all of my questions and concerns are answered. But, in my opinion, they are still a bit overly cautious on some things.

Imagine my surprise when I got an interesting and defiant nurse.

Here’s the skinny. Every doctor that came into my room, came with his or her own nurses. My cardiologist had two nurses, one was maybe in her 30s and the other was well into her 60s (she’d seen some things in her time on the ward). I suppose she never wanted to undermine the doctor while he was standing there, but she would leave the room with him, and return by herself a few minutes later.

Each day she would do this and it made me smile. I was admitted for a host of swollen organs. My platelet count was so low I was relegated to full bed rest. They even had me tethered to the fluid bag and oxygen by hoses that only allowed me to go a foot to the mobile commode. I felt like those prisoners who drag around balls and chains.

One day the doctor said, “You need to do PT for the muscles.” He wanted me to come to the hospital every day. A few minutes later, the nurse comes in solo and says, “You do yoga, it will be good for you.” I say, “I was thinking of water aerobics. The nurse replied, “No, to restore those muscles, go to yoga.”

The next day they took me off of the fluids and I ended up in the hallway. Well, I guess this was not what they expected, since I was to be on full bed rest. They found a reason to tether me again. When he came in, the nurses on the floor had told on me and he explained why I needed to stay close to the bed. I managed to get myself to the hospital without spontaneously bleeding, but I decided to comply. The doctor leaves, and a few minutes later the nurse returns. She shows me how to unhook myself from the fluid and tells me to move around. She said that moving around will prevent blood clots, but not to leave the room. All I could think was, “This woman is keeping me sane, and I don’t know who she is, but I love her!”

A day before I was released, the doctor came in to tell me why they were not ready for me to go home. I didn’t care, I was starting to wonder why I was fighting so hard to live. Every time the nurses came in to give me a sponge bath, I felt older, more feeble and I just wanted to die. I told him that I promised to be careful, but I wanted to go home. He said we would discuss it the next day.

Again, here came the nurse, and she asked me how I was feeling. I told her I would cry after they would leave from the bath. And how going to the bathroom in the middle of the room, and having the food service guy walk in while I was doing my business just hurt my heart. She said, “A happy heart is part of the healing process, and if you are ready to go home, insist — they will let you.”

She was right, my numbers weren’t where they should have been, but they were better than where they started, so they sent me home.

Some might say she was out of order, but this little defiant nurse was my sanity. Old-school isn’t always so bad in healthcare. I wish they could do a fusion, and give us good bedside manner, with cutting-edge technology and research. That would be my wish for the world of chronic illness patients.

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Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.

10 comments

  1. Colleen Souders says:

    Kelli,
    I’m so sorry that you had to be hospitalized. I’m glad you had an empathetic, caring nurse. I was one of those before lupus took my career away. and a patient advocate like your nurse.
    I wanted to tell you that I enjoy reading your blog.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Colleen, I am sorry to hear that your career was stolen by this deplorable disease, it has robbed so many of so much. I was very grateful for this nurse and anytime I get someone who is compassionate it helps make coping just a little easier. Its too bad to say that in an industry that deals in human pain that to be empathetic is a trait that many don’t have. I am happy for people like her and you, I am sure you helped many patients without ever realizing it in ways that went beyond their reasons for being hospitalized. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

  2. Gigi says:

    A compassionate, understanding nurse made all the difference when I was in the hospital for three days – three horrible days with a potassium central line 24/7. Potassium IV hurts and burns and to add insult to injury, I had to have blood tests every six hours so it felt as if every inch of my body had been pricked and poked by giant needles. By the morning of the second day I was in tears. Every time I had to go to the bathroom I had to buzz for someone to unhook me and then hook me back up. The doctor wanted me to use a bedpan but my head nurse allowed me the dignity to using the bathroom. I will always be grateful for my head nurse, Betsy!!

    • Kellie McRae says:

      I too am grateful for Betsy and the many others out there like her. This disease is certainly no walk in the park even on a good day so when hospital stays become necessary, sometimes just a small act of compassion can get you through. Nurses are often the ones on the front lines, the doctor comes in maybe once a day but the nurses are there all the time and I think they see the hope leaving our faces and they know how to restore that if they are in the industry for the right reasons. I hope you are having better days Gigi, thanks for commenting.

  3. GALE BARNETT says:

    I was in the hospital and an Angel Nurse named Rene saved my life. She insisted my low potassium and sodium was due to lupus flare. They finally started steroids with electrolytes. I am back to reality and started to leave the nightmare in my head(very dark place with witches and tigers). I have looked high and low to thank her and can not find her any where. Thank You Angel Nurse Rene.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      I’m glad you’re starting to feel better Gale, Angels seem to appear, do what they are there to do and then leave when the job is done. Many of them don’t expect to be thanks by anything other than you getting better, knowing Rene made an impact is blessing enough. I love it when we find that diamond that shines because they are definitely not that prevalent anymore.

  4. LisaJo says:

    I totally agree with old school but with the new tech…everyone has gotten so cold and heartless and to matter of fact by the book. I think people have forgotten they have a soul and spirit and heart along with the brain. If the heart could come back into things and live in peace with the tech/brain this world would be a better place!

    • Kellie McRae says:

      I totally agree with you LisaJo, its become more about profit than the patient. There are some that do remember that there’s a person attached to the diagnosis and those darned tubes they seem to like to have attached to us 🙂 For those few, I am thankful.

  5. Shelley says:

    I’m thankful every time I encounter a person in the medical industry who shows kindness and compassion and treats me like a human being. Having a chronic illness is challenging. I don’t think a little empathy is to much to ask for. 🙂

    • Kellie McRae says:

      I agree wholeheartedly Shelley, it is sad that its something that we have to expect and is not readily given by those charged with caring. I know they see a lot of people but a caring word and a little compassion doesn’t really take any additional time. I am grateful whenever we encounter someone that remembers that.

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