Monday November 20 , 2017

Example

Before

With each breath he took the stench of alcohol seeped from his mouth and into the air between us. He was completely drunk, and it was my job to handle him. Nothing from my past experiences had prepared me for this day, and I had no idea what to do.

When I was told that my assistance was needed in the Emergency Room, I became anxious and excited about what I was about to undergo. After volunteering for two consecutive years at Marlborough Hospital, I was passionate about the ER. I was attracted to its constant state of chaos as every minute new patients and new emergencies streamed in.

As soon as I walked into my assigned room, I was in shock. He was right there, barely able to stand, staring back at me. His name was Lee, an older man of about sixty-five, and I later learned that it was his ninetieth time going to the hospital being treated for intoxication that year. His clothes were torn and ragged and covered in stains from excess use. His hands and fingernails were rough, worn and stained. His talked with a slow slur as if he were a child still learning how to talk. While in the small hospital room, I took careful note of everything that was going on. His left arm was hooked up to an IV bag, and it was my responsibility to make sure Lee did not leave the room until the bag was empty. Although this seemed like it would be an easy task, it proved to be very challenging. Not only was Lee very unstable standing but he was also extremely belligerent. He could not have cared about his health and was only interested in getting to a bar for that next glass of hard liquor. Many times, Lee would yell irrationally and take out his anger on the passing nurses and doctors. I on the other hand, was just trying to restrain him and keep him calm. I tried everything to distract him from his current situation but nothing seemed to work.

Finally, I found that the best way to divert his attention was to start a conversation. Lee became so involved in our discussion he lost track of time. Throughout our conversation, I learned just about every detail of his life; he told me bout his deceased wife, estranged children, and his constant struggle to obtain a reliable job. As a result of these devastating experiences, he turned to alcohol to cope with his inevitable depression. The experience was shocking--not because I hadn’t ever seen a drunken person before--but because I had never gotten so close to someone in such a horrible state. Normally, I would only spend about five minutes with a patient, have a quick conversation and say goodbye. However, with Lee I was exposed to more than what his chart told me. I was able to see he wasn’t just a drunk, he was lonely and depressed and his whole demeanor showed it.

In the end, I spent about an hour and a half talking with Lee. Not only did our conversation help to distract him, but it also turned into a learning experience for me. From that day, Lee transformed me. He sparked my innate desire to care for others and it made me realize that I want to pursue nursing as a career. Despite my initial shock, I became more comfortable, and I realized that taking care of people comes naturally.

To this day, I think about and wonder how he is doing. I pray that one day he will overcome his addiction and return to a happier lifestyle. I hope that I had a positive influence on Lee that day in return for the change he has brought to my life.

 

 

After

With each breath the patient took, the stench of alcohol seeped from his mouth and into the air between us. He was completely drunk, and it was my job to handle him. Nothing from my past experiences had prepared me for this day, and I had no idea what to do.

When I was told my assistance was needed in the Emergency Room that day, I became anxious yet excited about what I would face. During the two summers I volunteered at Marlborough Hospital, I had become passionate about the ER. I was attracted to its constant state of chaos as every minute, new patients and new emergencies streamed in.

As soon as I walked into my assigned room, I was in shock. There he was, barely able to stand, staring back at me. His name was Lee, an older man of about 65, and I later learned it was his 90th time going to the hospital to be treated for intoxication that year. His clothes were dirty and ragged from excess wear. His hands and fingernails were rough, worn and stained. His speech was slurred and he spoke slowly, as if he were a child still learning how to talk. While in the small hospital room, I took careful note of everything that was going on. His left arm was hooked up to an IV bag, and it was my responsibility to make sure Lee did not leave the room until the bag was empty. Although it seemed as though this would be an easy task, it proved to be very challenging. Not only was Lee very unstable standing, he was also extremely belligerent. He couldn't have cared less about his health and was only interested in getting to a bar for that next glass of hard liquor.

Often during the time I spent with him, Lee would yell irrationally and take out his anger on the passing nurses and doctors. I on the other hand, was instinctively trying to restrain him and keep him calm. I tried everything to distract him from ripping the IV out of his arm, but nothing seemed to work.

Finally, I decided that the best way to divert his attention was to start a conversation. Lee became so involved in our discussion he lost track of the time. As we talked, I learned just about every detail of his life; he told me about his deceased wife, estranged children and his constant struggle to hold down a job as a mechanic. As a result of these devastating experiences, he turned to alcohol to cope with his inevitable depression. Normally, I would only spend about five minutes with a patient; just enough time to make some small talk. However, with Lee I was exposed to more than what his chart told me. I was able to see he wasn’t just a drunk, he was lonely and depressed and his whole demeanor exuded it.

In the end, I spent about an hour and a half talking with Lee. Looking back on that day, I realized that not only did our conversation help to distract him, but it also crystallized my desire to care for others. It made me realize with perfect clarity that I want to pursue nursing as a career. Despite my initial shock at meeting Lee, I was proud of my ability to make a stressful situation more comfortable, and I realized that taking care of people comes naturally to me and nursing is where I belong.

I never saw Lee again but to this day, I still think about him occasionally and wonder how he is doing. I pray that one day he will overcome his addiction and move into a better place. I’d like to think that in some small way, I had a positive influence on Lee that day in the ER because of what he taught me about myself.