There’s this odd thing bedside nurses do: When draping a flat sheet over a patient, we fold it in half by length, forming a doubled, shortened cover. Old-school nurses do this out of habit, the good ones refraining when a patient feels febrile, or clammy.
This strange practice was the thing that taught me – as a new nurse – that every, single action in nursing practice must have a reason. I could see no earthly explanation for this extra set of motions in my infinite sea of tasks to perform, but when I quickly threw a sheet carelessly over a patient, edges brushing the floor, my preceptor offered one: Appearances are important here. Nobody’s family needs to be told their mother is dying as she lays in a disheveled bed. A spot of blood on a sheet will set you back hours.
Infuriated, even in my naivety, I kept at it. She’d act, I’d cross, and every time she’d tell me the exact reason she had chosen her placement, or order, or choice. To me, it seemed much was reasonless and alterable, but not to this experienced master. She told me every reason, because she had a reason for her every action. And this necessity, more than the actions or the reasons, was the unspoken lesson that stuck.
Yesterday was a bit like this. My legs itched to discover, to find my own experience. I could see no logic behind the inside view of my oh-so-patient guide, and wanted what I wanted, or at least a reason for his contradiction to my opinions. Funny, how closely my early nurse days visit me here – his explanation was quite similar to my preceptor’s – just because I know better than you.
Dammit, that’s the hardest pill to swallow. Then, now, likely forever. But, despite the awkward, bitter first gulp, I know I am fully better for it. I know this from my nursing past, and probably (sheepishly, though) now, too.
One thought on “Bed Linens, Reasons & Jardim da Luz”
Reading your post, the adage taught to us in nursing school, “Nursing is an art” comes to mind. It’s tad frustrating, especially as a student when you couldn’t pass the return demonstration if you didn’t do the folds during bedmaking right. This post also brought to mind the practices being observed in the different floors in hospitals. Some units do one practice this way while the others do it the other way–no one has a really good explanation as to why other than the fact that “that’s just how things roll here.” Uhm, maybe all that doesn’t sound really connected to your post but they’re just what came into mind for me so there.
All that aside, I really love your writing style, the way it sounds so witty yet so artistic at the same time. I hope you keep writing. It’s enjoyable to read pieces like these and learn more about the reality of nursing while I’m at it. Thanks for the good read!