Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pass the Emesis Basin--I Feel Sick

I had another kerfuffle at work last night and I'm beginning to think I'm a shit magnet. (Close your eyes Sister if you're reading this).

I've always been assured of who and what I am, but according to the man I met last night doing a home visit, I may be something entirely different. According to him, a learned man of the world to be sure and one with an impressive vocabulary to match, I'm a, what did he say? Oh yeah..."filthy tramp." He was not some demented patient who couldn't see past my clean cut image or someone in the throes of delerium. No, indeed, he was not the patient at all...just a relative who is royally pissed at the world. I'd buy the line that he's just grieving, and verbal abuse is nothing but an expression of his grief, but that's complete BS. I'm convinced, since I'm not the only one he gave unique names to this past week, this guy is nothing but a misogynist. In fact, I'd bet my lottery ticket with a jackpot of 121 million dollars that this guy would NEVER speak to a man like he spoke to me last night. Not in a 121 million years.

I've taken everyone's advice here and when I go into really bad neighborhoods these days, I've been taking armed security escorts. Lord, I wonder what kind of hits do you think my site will get using the words escorts and tramp in one post? I'll have to be extra vigilant in the comment section. The problem with last night is I wasn't in a "bad" neighborhood and I was blindsided by the abuse and people yelling at me. While we're on the subject of neighborhoods, when I'm in really bad ones, it's not the families and patients who are a problem. It's the areas that are dangerous. Indeed, most economically disadvantaged people are so thankful for help and very gracious while I'm there. I have, knock wood, never left a home in the city fleeing like I did last night because in addition to the name calling, three adults, all bigger than me, were yelling at me. And scaring me to death. It wasn't just their verbiage and loud tones of voice I found threatening, it was their body language that screamed to me, "get the hell out, NOW!"

When I got to my car, my hands were shaking so bad I had a hard time getting the key in the ignition. I drove around the corner and called my supervisor. It took six attempts to land the tracking ball device on the number I wanted to call on my Blackberry. I wanted to cry and puke at the same time.

Suffice it to say, I've had enough of this. This is incident number three in as many months, and I can tell you that though I feel this work is still where my heart is (when it isn't in my throat), I am losing the stomach, not to mention the nerve, to do it much longer. I'm on the hunt for a work situation that while it may not be better, at least it may be safer. I say may be safer because under-reported workplace violence is nursing's dirty little secret. Nurses get assaulted every single day and in every type of work situation you can imagine. They get hit, kicked, bit, spit on, threatened with "reporting to a supervisor"and sworn at routinely. Because the perpetrators are usually patients who may not be in their right minds, nothing usually ever comes of it. Ever.

For God's sake people, when we nurses are visitors in patient homes, those domiciles become our place of employment. Think about it...how would you feel if someone came into your workplace and starting screaming at you and calling you despicable names? How would you like to feel fear for your wellbeing in the place you earn your living?

I need to find something else before I lose it completely and start dishing back what these rude people are handing out.

What in the world has happened to common courtesy and manners?

And so you know and won't worry, we do have zero tolerance for abuse. Zero. I don't think my abuser thought about that before he opened his mouth. Too bad, so sad.


Devon said...

I am so sorry. No one should have to experience that anywhere. A friend of mine used to quote Ghandi at times like this.

"You must be the change you wish to see".

I am in no way implying that this behavior is a reaction to you. Only hope it can help your reaction to the behavior around you.

I am sure the majority of the families you work with are so very grateful for your skills and devotion.

...And if you want a change, home health is awesome! I love it. Less calls after hours and not all of our patients die on service... we try to transfer to hospice before that happens!

Rudee said...

Contrary to my sharp tongue in this post, Devon, I usually always present with a calm and respectful demeanor. My job is to make people feel capable of the task at hand and I usually don't have a problem establishing a rapport. I have a feeling this man sensed this as a weakness. He was very angry and resistant before our visit ever began.

Me thinks our old friend, Mr. ETOH is involved, but that's no excuse for such belligerent and ignorant behavior. I'm tiring of this. I've done home care, and didn't like it as much as I like hospice. I do make a difference when I'm allowed to do my job and that was the point of taking on this role.

You're right, the majority of families are thankful.

Lisa L said...

rudee..get out. this is a horrible way to make a living sweetie. do you have inpatient, freestanding hospices in your area? give those a try. enough with the security guards and the hideous abuse. you don't need that. nobody does. i've had more than my share of horrible behavior too (and i can only just imagining all the nurses reading your blog now, raising their hands and saying "me too.") we are an abused lot to be sure. please look around for something else rudee..

Miss 376 said...

And it's always the people you are out to help that end up suffering. I hope you can find something that can put your skills to good use without the threats

Ruth said...

This makes me so cross - and thats a understatement. The poor patient who needs you will now be missing out because of useless relatives. We once had a senior Dr who said she like ICU patients who were orphans - they couldn't talk ( intubated) and they had NO relatives. She was a very caring competant straight down the line no nonsense person who usually said it like it was.Our Home visiting nurses have the patients sign a contract before they are allocated nursing and good behaviour is one clause. No nurse should have to put up with this or any violence in the work-place wether it be homes, clinic or hospital.When we discharge patients to home hospice services we know of family dynamics and that is taken into consideration before it is a option for that patient.
Take great care Rudee. Can police charges be laid?

Brenda said...

I agree with the other commenters. Find some place that is safer and less abusive. NO ONE should have to deal with that...least of all a person who has been sent there to help them, and/ or their family members, which in turn helps them.
So sorry. Reading this makes my little gripes seem so silly.

Renie Burghardt said...

Rudee, reading this account scared me for you! As much as you love your job, love making a difference, your own safety has to be a primary concern. Please stay safe!

Hugs and prayers!


Gail said...

I am so sorry, sometimes people think their rude mouth will get them what they want but it never happens that way.

I would also like to thank you for giving me a name for the kidney shaped puke dish. I never knew what it was called. You have made my day!

sapphireblue said...

You should not be working in a place that you feel threatened or in any way fear for you life. I agree, get out now. Find another job. Maybe you can go to work for a hospital or hospice care facility.

Stephanie V said...

I can believe that nurses are abused in their workplace - their profession isn't alone in this. Doesn't make it right, though.

It's obvious that you love your work, Rudee, and that you do make a huge difference to those in your care - even the ones whose relatives make you afraid.
I have no wise advice...just prayers that you will not experience this again. It's tough to have to consider leaving the work you enjoy.

Sandy said...

Oh Rudee,that is terrible. I'm glad you are going to get out of that particular aspect of nursing and do something safer. I'm so shocked that people actually treat others like that when you are there to help out. No, not really shocked just incredulous I guess.

Rositta said...

It is definitely time for you to make a change, sooner rather than later. When you have this kind of abuse to deal with and when you need armed guards to do your job, it's time to pack it in, for your own safety and sanity, sending hugs...ciao

Miss T said...

Unbelievable. I'm sorry you've had to put up with that.

Larjmarj said...

Sorry to hear about your experience. I've been subject to abuse from families and patients at times but nothing quite to that extent. I have to admit that home care is sort of scary for just that reason, you really are on your own. ETOH or not...no excuse. It seems to me that families are getting worse. I think the next generation coming up has a big lack of coping skills that the depression era people definitely had in spades. It just sucks for your patients who desperately need your skills and kindness.

Anonymous said...

I agree Mr. ETOH was probably the culprit. When you are going into homes you not only have the patient to care for you have the whole family and sometimes the neighbors to deal with. Lisa I am putting my hand up and saying "me too."

jeannette stgermain said...

Rudee, this is heavy stuff -I am glad you decided that it's time for a change. I have no tolerance for abuse either. It's sad if you have to be escorted by bodyguards/ security or police to do your work, or even to get decent treatment!.