Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All in a Day's Work

As a home health nurse I find myself in some interesting situations sometimes. It doesn't take long before you're initiated into being a seasoned nurse. I've seen wounds that you can't possibly imagine where you're entire fist fits inside them and you have to pack and pack being careful not to touch the nerves. I've taken care of patients who have literally induced a stroke with cocaine, and the list goes on. If I'm lucky I will see a cute little old lady with a hip replacement, but as one of the supervisors told me today, I'm quickly developing a reputation for dealing with difficult (more like dysfunctional patients). Its turned into a joke that if I'm going to go see them they must be a train wreck.

Yesterday was a first. I was going to eval a patient to see if they were appropriate for homecare and I knew it wasn't the best area of town. I'm no sissy and I've been in some pretty nasty neighborhoods before (I was almost attacked by a Pitbull last week. No joke.) but this was bada and I was really scared. It was right out of the movies where you're the wrong person in the wrong part of town and you're being stared down. The first time I drove by the patients home I knew it was the right place but there were 8 or so people out front surrounding a care and they looked less than reputable. Something inside said don't stop and keep driving. I went right past and didn't even make eye contact. I went back to office to empty my car and notify my sup that I wasn't comfortable but was going to go out and only take paper and my nursing bag and leave my computer at the office.

I arrived at the patients home just as a two police officers patrolling the neighborhood drove by. I made eye contact with them so they would know I was there, and then watched through my rear view mirror as they drove by and then flipped around pulling up beside me. I rolled down my window for them to ask me "What are you doing here?!" I told them I was a nurse and needed to eval a patient and asked if it was safe for me to be there. They said "well, no. Its not. Do you really need to do this?" When a big burly police officer tells you that you shouldn't be in a place I tend to think that maybe there's something going on that would give them reason to believe that. I told them I needed to at least meet the patient. They said "okay, but we'll wait here with your car and wait until you come back. This is not a nice place. I'm not kidding when I say it was dark and dingy and everyone including the elderly grandmother was high. I was there five minutes saw that the patient was not appropriate and got out of there. As I left and turned around the police officers pulled along side again and I was given very strict instructions not to return to that area of town without a deputy and that I should never be there alone." YIKES!

I'm just a nurse but this is all in a days work when you work in home health. I must be nuts. At least in the hospital or even the ER you wait for the crazies to come to you. But in home health we go out and find them and then subject ourselves to their environments. It is sad the way some people choose to live and lead their lives. But I'm glad I listened to my gut and didn't unintentionally bust up a deal by stopping the first time. Definitely Divine Intervention.

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