Last night a mother came in with her 9 year old who had just been stung by a bee.
He had had allergic reactions to stings 3 times in the past and was already showing some hives on his face, neck and arms. Very mild swelling to his eyelids was also starting to appear.
I was at triage and we were slammed but he was a priority so I whisked him into the department and poured some liquid diphenhydramine (benadryl) down his gullet before you could say "histamine response".
Mom was a nice, middle aged woman. We chatted about the risks of stings and the fact that she might want to look into an epi pen and liquid benadryl. Kid was sniffly and upset but not getting any worse. Mom told me last time he had a reaction it took 3 nurses to hold him down for the injection. I said he may not need one today depending on how the benadryl took effect (it seemed to be working).
Doc and med student saw him and he ordered an I.M injection of benadryl. I drew it up and went in the room to give it.
The child completely flipped out, running and hiding behind his mother, screaming, crying.
Mom just sits there with her hands folded in lap,
"oh Honey...the nurse is busy, let her give you the shot, remember we talked about where we will go eat after?"
Kid continues to freak out. I do not have time for this little episode...I walk away and tell mom to get him settled and I'll return with some more nurses. In the meantime I talk to the doc and see if we can give some oral ranitidine or maybe more oral benadryl...he is responding to the P.O meds so is an injection necessary? It is not going to be easy, I explain. But no, he says it will not absorb fast enough. Fine.
I come back with our male site leader and nursing student and ask them to hold with mom's help.
Mom continues to be useless at disciplining or calming child. The two other nurses are trying to hold him, I attempt to wrap him in a sheet which completely doesn't work.
Now kid is ballistic. Freaking out, screaming, kicking and punching as hard as he can. I am bent over trying to hold his hip still so I can give him the injection in the glute. In the process I get a kick to the abdomen (with shoes on, thanks) and punches/flailing arms to my upper body. My two colleagues are also getting kicked and punched by the child. Mom is the most impotent disciplinarian I have ever encountered. Her child is assaulting three health care professionals and all she's doing is saying, "oh, don't do that, stop it, come on....donnnn't...".
Finally I get the injection in after telling the kid to stop several times (and calling him a brat--I couldn't help myself). We walk out.
I was trying to mix some gentamycin up for a septecemia patient and my hands were shaking to the point I could hardly hold the vials. I have never been so furious at work in my life. Not only was I angry for being assaulted but I was also extremely upset that the mother didn't even apologise or discipline the child. Plus, the staff all just brushed the incident aside.
I was shocked at how upset I was actually. I was fighting tears over the whole thing and I couldn't figure out why I was so emotional after the event. When I had calmed down I returned to the room. Sat down and looked him in the eye. I apologised for calling him a brat. He evidently hadn't even heard me but accepted my apology anyway. He apologised for kicking and punching me. I offered, "friends?" and we shook on it.
I told him, sometimes at work people punch me, scratch me, kick me, even bite me.
"They BITE you???"
I went on to explain that we are nurses who are trying to do our jobs and it is very upsetting when the people we are trying to help are trying to hurt us. He said sorry again and said he wouldn't do it in the future. I walked out of the room, but have to admit, I couldn't bring myself to say what I wanted to the mother.
When I got home from my shift I took a long walk.
It was a beautiful night, just dark but still the warm air was hanging heavy. I was trying to unravel the nights events in my mind and look at my reaction to everything a little more objectively.
Why did only one co-worker ask me if I was alright?
Why did that mother not react to the way her child was acting?
Why is nursing the one job where being assaulted at work is an accepted job hazard?
I don't care that it was from a 9 year old. The whole event was unacceptable but I was unable to articulate it at the time. Or take the appropriate actions to deal with it. The "suck it up" mentality is very clear in nursing.
By the time I got home my lower back had completely seized up due to my poor body mechanics during the wrestling match avec needle. It's still very sore today despite my early morning hot yoga class in an attempt to work it out. I was in pain all day today at work but no, of course I didn't fill out any incident forms or make any complaints. Yeah, what am I going to say, "kicked and pulled by 9 year old, now suffering from lower back pain." Right.
To think about the monotonous regularity with which these events occur in the nursing profession makes me wince.
I just needed to vent a little.
Next time you see a nurse, give her hand a shake for all the sh*t we have to put up with. And then, when she sits down...give her a nice little shoulder rub (really get to those traps...).