Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Monday, December 22, 2008

"Disarming"

**This is me, being VERY VERY silly. There is NOTHING gangster about me. You'll get it. Read on. ****
In college, nursing students had to do time in a rehab. I did my rotation on a teen unit in Westchester. It had an array of patients breaching across different cultures with different health issues.
My patient was 17 and had been shot. She was trying to recover.
It is very different caring for this patient when you look 17 yo and she is 17yo than if you are say 30 yo.
We talked like she was my homegirl.
We’d watch the Ludacris video “Get out tha way” and I tried to teach her to dance with her wheelchair.
Luda knows about friends in chairs. I’m betting he has a friend or two that got shot up just like her.
She was vague even with me about how it happened, so I won’t be telling you. I will say, I got her, as in, I understood. I understood the story as something she did being young, stupid, and careless, exerting her freedom.
I was not so far away from that time.
I forget who I worked with in that room as another student, but whoever it was, they were down too.
They had a girl who had her leg extended using some ORIF procedure. I don’t really remember. I do remember I was told to clean the pins holding her leg together, and she screamed at the top of her lungs. She screamed, that is, until we two nursing students, shut the door, and decided to speak to her privately.
I spoke to her like the cool girl would speak to a younger version misbehaving, like she was a friend and she was trippin.’ For her own good, I would not be allowing this.
We never let this secret out to the teachers, that we were chillin,’ watching ludacris videos, dancing in wheelchairs, given fashion, and down home “girl get your head right” advice.
That girl DID clean her own pins after our talk.
I would not, could not, have treated her (and I was treating her as a health care professional) if I had looked, behaved, or spoken differently. Her education was girl to girl. I was her “been there/ know about it” friend.
This is not an accepted educational practice. I hid it because “how dare I” cross “boundaries” with my patients to show them that I like ludacris and thought dancing in a wheel chair was HOT.
With the pins, the door got shut, because that girl needed a good big sister speaking to. That is also understood as an unacceptable education practice.
What I wrote for my teacher was this: Client lives in an apartment in the S. Bronx with her mother, stepfather, and 14 year old Sister. Her parents are divorced. Her father is incarcerated, but has a family in Puerto Rico. X has two half sisters ages 21 and 14 in Puerto Rico. The client’s injury has attributed to depression from impaired mobility and anoerexia arising from fears of “getting fat” from altered mobility. Family visitation is difficult due to distance and lack of transportation, but her mother calls often. X acknowledges no adverse effect of her illness on her family. X has attached to a boy “J” with Lou Gehrig’s disease for a support system. She states that, “he is happier now.” Her favorite object is a small Taz stuffed animal which she brings everywhere. She acknowledges no significant losses while in the hospital and claims her friends often call.
Nursing Diagnosis: a. Ineffective coping related to medical diagnosis as manifested by self mutilation and depression b. Powerlessness (moderate) related to control relinquished to the health care team as manifested by refusal to eat. c. Self-esteem disturbance related to sense of inadequacy as manifested by refusal to eat, self mutilation, and depression. d. Dysfunctional grieving related to unresolved feelings about physical/ functional loss manifested by ineffective coping.
This is what the school wanted so this is what I told them.
What I did was cater what I said or what I did to the person and the situation while maintaining my basic personality. I like to call it “disarming.”
This requires a comfort with oneself I am blessed to possess.
On my first med-surg rotation, a young, female patient, who had waited without eating for 2 days for surgery, ran around the units SCREAMING at EVERYBODY. She threw water ever she could get her hands on. Whoa, it was a serious freak out.
I found her alone, hiding in a corner of the unit where nobody dared to go, and told her who I was and I could help her say what she wanted.
What was happening was a SEVERE communication error, and I could feel for the patient, who also had no functioning thyroid and whose medications were obviously NOT therapeutic yet.
She went back to her room, and when the surgeons came back around, she called for me, but I had all ready disappeared to our meeting, and no “nurse” fit the description of “White.”
Me, being twenty, thought, “She couldn’t really be asking for ME among all those professionals could she?”
Do you get what I’m saying here. It is not always what you say, but how you say it, and who you say it to. Boundaries between caretakers and patients are sometimes barriers to accepting disease processes and coping within everyday life for future quality and enjoyment.

2 comments:

emjay. said...

can I get an AMMMEEN sister!!!!! Oh the stories, oh the stories I have for you and could tell you but don't need to tell you because our minds are exactly alike and THEREFORE you already know....you are one of the rarities that realize every patient no make that every person cannot be treated the exact same way, a formula cannot be issues and expect that everyone is satisfied with the results.

Our job in LIFE is to draw on our own experiences and use them to help others in their time of need. It just so happens as a nurse, you can make good money doing that very thing.

brynn said...

oh my goodness i remember when we took that picture! i do believe you were pretending to be Tupac! :)