In addition to working as a staff RN on an Internal Medicine floor, one of my roles is working as an admission nurse covering four of our busy medical units. I admit patients from all over the world, with various ailments. A lot of our patients have traveled here because they have been told elsewhere there is nothing else that can be done for them, or because they believe there is something more that can be done. We see patients with rare conditions, patients who have stopped walking, stopped eating, and some who are on the verge of giving up.
Sometimes I am the first personal contact they have as they are getting settled in to their blue patient gowns, family members on cell phones letting loved ones know they have finally made it. They are exhausted, but they are happy to be in our presence. They go in to detail about their journey, how long they had to drive, how many layovers they had, how many MRIs, blood tests, and CT scans they have endured until this point. As they share many details their eyes begin to fill with tears. I try to imagine what they have been through, but am sure I fall short of complete comprehension. I go about helping them remove their compression socks; I inspect their feet, and settle them into bed. They continue to tell me their story and plead with me to assure them they are in the right place to find answers.
I find myself sympathizing deeply and I want to tell them to worry no more, but I can’t do that. You see we learn in nursing school that we aren’t supposed to instill false hope, and I tell them exactly that. I attempt to explain that we aren’t supposed to say “everything will turn out fine” or “we will find you an answer” and that I wish that I could, I wish I had the magical wand. I continue with my thorough head to toe assessment and ask pertinent baseline questions. I look over hand written medication lists and verify the dosages. My assessment is done and finally, knowing I will probably never see these people again, I attempt to offer them a glimmer of hope.
I take this opportunity to share how I’ve taken care of patients who were unable to walk when they arrived but left here walking–patients that thought they were going to be on tube feedings for the rest of their lives that left here eating. I tell them I can’t promise what their future will bring but that I do believe they are in the right place, a truly magical place.