11 October 2022
Nursing is often glamorized in dramas and novels. At times, nurses portrayed a role as well composed, self-sacrificial, and totally in control of all situations at work. The truth is, we are never able to foresee how each shift will turn out and we are met with surprises that, years later, we will have difficulty believing they happened.
Most nurses have a love-hate relationship with working the night shift and I am no exception. It can be tiring staying awake knowing the rest of the world slumbers. I often hope for a peaceful night. However, busy nights are the norm and there were nights we wondered if we would survive especially in our Dementia ward.
Our night shift started out uneventfully. We did rounds, greeted our patients, checked for any redness on those who have IV drips, put up all their bed rails, checked the fall sensor mat, ensured call bells are at reach; and reminded the patients not to climb out of bed on their own.
After all our routine work was done and out of the quietness of the night, we heard a loud scream “ ARGH!” I had this patient whom I shall call Madam Noliah, around 90 years of age. She is holding her both legs wide open and appears to be really in pain.
When I approached her at her bedside, she told me “ What are you doing? You catch my baby!”
I was awed that I had to pause for a moment. But then it is really important to provide reality orientation to our dementia patients and let our compassion drive them back to reality.
However, no amount of reasoning could work on a confused and agitated patient. We have our patient Mr Joseph, who keeps on screaming in the ward. Understanding our patients seems to be the best tool as a nurse. As for Mr Joseph, we had understood that he has his own pattern of behavior and all of his shouts were his little way of communicating to us. We took turns to sit beside him and establish routine check points so that we are able to recognize our patient’s needs as they arise.
Making a difference in their lives is the most rewarding part as a nurse and in the sameway, they also leave an impact into ours- without even realizing it.