Before I ever started nursing school, I had this image in my head about what nursing is really like. While I knew it wasn't all fun and games I never imagined how different it would be from what I pictured.
Deep down I knew things, but they didn't seem real until I saw them first hand.
For example: I knew people had chronic illnesses, but I never thought CHF would warrant 18 trips to the ER in the past 6 months. I also never quite realized that you don't fix these people, you just stop their symptoms for that day and send them home to return in three weeks.
For example: I knew people didn't recover from injuries every time, but I never thought a simple bilateral crushed heel would ruin the chances a young girl has of being in the Air Force. I have seen more life-changing injuries in the past two weeks than I ever thought possible...and up till this time, I always held to the illusion that the ER fixes you and you're all better. Now I know it's not true.
For example: Some old people die alone and without family. I have a close knit family and I can't imagine anyone in my family dying alone, but the rest of the world doesn't always hold to that ideal. It's tough seeing 94 year old granny or grandpa struggling to breathe, septic from a UTI, too weak to sit up, and so confused they don't know who we are. It breaks my heart, and I've already volunteered to go to the supply room for random crap so I can wipe a few tears away.
For example: Some old people die, but have family. It's still hard to watch granny or grandpa struggling to breathe, septic from a UTI, too weak to sit up, and so confused they don't know who we are - but at least they have family present to be with them. Even so, all life ends at some point and now was their time.
For example: Babies die under your fingertips with Mom sobbing at the foot of the warmer when CPR is stopped. I would give anything to never have this happen to me again.
But even with all of the sad things, I have seen the resiliency of people and their determination to make it through their issues. It's nice to see a family donate all the organs of their 18 year old daughter - their only child. It makes me smile inside to see a chronically ill person thank you for bringing them a warm blanket, when they can barely get enough breath to stay alive.
Overall, in the past couple of weeks I have seen the best and worst of what can happen to people. I have cried and I have laughed. I have learned so much and still see how far I have to go. I love this externship. I can't wait to be a nurse.