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The nurse curse – how do you help when you feel helpless?

David De Lossy | Digital Vision

Once you become a nurse or enroll in nursing school, friends and family start realizing what you’ve been learning. Suddenly, you’re Jeeves – better than any Internet search engine for ailments.

We’ve all received those calls or comments: “I’ve been feeling like this lately, what do you think I should do?” Or, “I take this medicine, is it okay to take it with something in the morning?” And while I love what I do, part of me wants to yell, “CALL YOUR DOCTOR!” On the bright side, people tend to take you seriously when you ARE recommending something, and you’re definitely more likely to influence change toward a healthier lifestyle.

This is all a part of the “nurse life” and it’s really quite fun, until you reach a certain point. My mom underwent five surgeries at three different facilities over the last 12 months–she jokes that at least she has a live-in nurse. And of course, I am more than happy to be there for her. When it starts to get tough is when you don’t know what else to say.

When she’s dealing with neuropathic pain from her mastectomy and the meds aren’t helping, I don’t have any suggestions beyond deep breathing and relaxation (not too helpful at that point). I can’t just say, “Let me call the docor and see if he can order a different pain medication for you” when it’s 11:30 on a Friday night.

You start to feel completely helpless. “I don’t know what to tell you” is the honest answer, and you don’t want to say it because it makes everyone worry. We’re the ones who are supposed to know these things, but all I can do is sit here and help, helplessly, until we go see the doctor again.

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.
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