This week’s blog post is dedicated to all the nurses everywhere! I don’t believe there is one of you out there, who hasn’t cared for a person with diabetes.
Thank you Nurses!
To every nurse who has taken our vitals, checked our sugar, measured our weight, pulled us from the hands of DKA, comforted us through our diagnosis days, been frustrated when diabetes got the better of us or educated us on the nuances of this ever-changing disease, I bow deeply and say “Thank YOU”. What you do is an often thankless job.
No doubt you have seen us at our worst when our manners have failed in the face of relentless frustration of never doing diabetes perfectly, or when hypoglycemia erased our ability to engage, or when dehydration and hyperglycemia zap our energy making all things diabetes insurmountable. It is no easy task to comfort someone who doesn’t want to be comforted, to encourage someone who feels hopeless or to educate someone who is in denial. Yet you do it every day, again and again. Thank YOU.
People with Diabetes, I am sorry
This summer, I will have been a registered nurse for 34 years and nothing has changed my perspective about nursing practice, more than being on the other side of the needle. I know there were days when I cared for people with diabetes and I was tired, I was burnt out, I was sick, or I was frustrated. Please accept my deepest apology, if my own stuff ever caused more pain to those I cared for. My judgement of your ability to “do better” was not fair and not kind. Only now do I realize how hard it really is to live this diabetes life. Some faces come to mind of people over the years, many are just a blur of starting IV’s, collecting urine, performing fingersticks, taking histories and drawing labs. I hoped I helped more than I ever hurt, and I hope you have found your way to health.
Even if I don’t remember you, I bear some of your scars. Those moments as your nurse when your lab test told me your life would be changed forever and your parents wept in fear trying to understand what diabetes means. Or, the time I wiped drool from your drooping face from a stroke knowing your life would never be the same. Perhaps it was the “tombstone waves” I read on your EKG that told me your heart was failing as your family clung to your bedside rails. I carry you with me.
My deepest scar is from a man whose name I can’t remember, but whom I met at triage shortly after my diagnosis. Diabetes had wreaked havoc on his body. He was blind, both feet had been amputated along with most fingers, his kidneys had failed along with the typical dialysis access in his arms, so his were in what was left of his thigh. A stroke had rendered him partially paralyzed and unable to speak, his mouth forever in a grimace unable to contain his saliva. But somehow, he still had a smile, if only a few teeth remained, and I could feel his soul. His body was broken, but his light was still shining. He was a gift that caused me to give myself permission to face diabetes and do all the things I didn’t want to do. He showed me the worst of what diabetes could do and it changed me.
Nurse Appreciation Week
We take this week to celebrate nurses, if you live with diabetes there is no doubt you have encountered many nurses along the way. Some good, some bad, and likely some who were judgmental. You likely have a few scars from my colleagues, but hopefully more stories of help, hope and healing. I ask you to please remember that every nurse is human with their own story, their own history and their own scars from caring for you. For the rest of your life as you deal with diabetes, nurses will be involved in your care. Please take a moment to thank them, but also to get to know their story. It is that connection where magic happens.
For my nursing brothers and sisters, I am proud to share our common mission to help. Whether you are in the OR, L&D, Boardroom, Provider Office, Dialysis Center, Insurance company, Software development, Home health, hospice, ICU, ER, battlefield and too many other places to count, know this: Your Journey Matters. You do work many on this planet could not imagine. Your hands lay upon the most vulnerable souls that exist. When they are broken and hurting, it is your hands that share their pain and provide comfort. Such a noble privilege to share in this calling with you.
Lastly to my fellow nurses, as you work with people who live with diabetes, please remember this: Not ONE of them wants it to be this way. There is no perfection in this disease. Everyone really does the best THEY can. I have come to learn that many times life has not prepared them for the financial, emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual battle they must fight. They are not armed to face significant emotions, let go of comforting rituals, be different than their circle of friends, put themselves before their loved ones, or communicate what they really need. So they do their best, even if sometimes their best is to avoid and push away the challenges of diabetes. No one chooses to fail, but we all seek comfort and connection, unfortunately sometimes comfort is found in chocolate cake, and understanding from friends with bad habits.
Happy Nurses Week to every nurse out there!! And if you can, when you care for those of us who deal with diabetes every day, know that the smile of your soul makes our burden a little bit lighter!
Patricia Daiker, BSN, RN-BC