I have been a Registered Nurse for over seven years. The funny thing about being a nurse is that people assume you know everything. You get calls constantly from family members or friends asking about this rash or that medication. My response ninety percent of the time is "I don't know." Is that a hundred percent true? Sometimes. There are a couple reasons to my "I don't know" response:
- Unless I have worked in that specific field, or I have Eidetic memory and I can whip out advanced med-surg's lecture on autonomic dysreflexia at a moments notice , then chances are that I probably don't know.
- Sometimes I really do know but unless I am physically at work in that environment I don't think that way. I leave work at work. So unless I am actively watching someones condition deteriorate in front of me, I am generally not flipping through my mental rolodex of disease process' and body functions. So put me at work in a critical situation and I may know, but at home in my sweatpants and "FRIYAY" shirt...I don't know much.
Also, nurses make the worst nurses at home. When your husband calls you (obviously upset) and frantically tells you that he "is bleeding and needs to go to the ER!!!" and your response is "Bleeding from where? But did you die? You're fine, you're not going anywhere." Unless you're bleeding from your eyeballs (and even then I may be skeptic) you are not going to the Emergency Room.
This really became a problem when I became a mom. I am not a labor and delivery nurse, so aside from a twelve week gig during my OB course (SEVEN years ago), I know ZERO about delivering babies. I'm sorry? You're going to put what there?!" I've learned more about pregnancies and births by delivering two babies, not by being a nurse.
You know the first time moms that rush their babies to the doctor every time they sneeze or cough or for that random little rash on their belly? How obnoxious right? Except I am one of them. What's worse is I am a nurse and I still freak out when they get a fever. I've worked in the Emergency Room, I've seen much worse than a three month old baby with a 101.0 fever. How do we treat it? Give them Tylenol and send them on their way. I know this. But when it comes to my kids, I do NOT know this. Suddenly I am calling my husband frantic "His temperature is now 102! Maybe we should take him to the doctor! But look at her rash! The doctor needs to see that too!" Now my husband has to keep me in check and say "Listen to yourself. If you were at work how would you treat it?" I have learned to take a step back and put on my nurse hat and reassess the situation, sometimes.
Recently my two year old daughter had the stomach bug. UGH! Isn't that just the worst? 24 hours of pure hell. Except she had it for SIX days! I gave it four days, I watched her spend four full days on the toilet with explosive diarrhea, vomiting, not eating at all while I forced her to drink fluids. I kept repeating to myself "Do NOT call the doctor. Do NOT call the doctor. Do NOT call the doctor." By day four she was so lethargic she would barely get off of the couch, I broke down and called the doctor. She spent the evening getting IV fluids to help re-hydrate. After the SIXTH day she was finally starting to return to normal.
The bad thing is it is somewhat frowned upon when medical professionals bring their children in for anything less than a brain bleed. It is assumed that we are supposed to know better and that we should be able to treat them at home. Yes, as nurses we have more knowledge of the medical field and disease process' than the general public but the more important thing is that we are moms and that comes first. I will never forget when a co-worker of mine reminded me (after my daughter had a bad virus about a year ago) that we are moms too and sometimes there is too much pressure placed on "mom-nurses" to be a nurse first then a mom second. We are allowed to be moms just like everyone else. So if I want to freak out over a 102.5 fever instead of using common sense, then that's just what I will do!