As I work on my continuing education credits required to maintain my nursing license, I am reminded of how much I miss my days as a nurse. Prior to my diagnosis with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I worked in hospice and palliative care. The transition from nurse to patient is an ongoing struggle for me.
I embraced my role as a caregiver. I believe that this is my purpose in life. I’ve always been nurturing. I aspire to help others, and I know that this is God’s plan for me.
Transitioning from my caregiver role was no laughing matter. Even after 14 years, changing the mindset and perspective from nurse to patient continues to get the best of me. When my mom visits, I have an internal desire to take care of her. Isn’t this our duty as our parents age? But my mom is rebellious and stubborn — and she wonders where I get it from.
I am the patient in the hospital who tries to take care of her roommate. Or explains to my husband that the nurses are busy. He stays by my side and is the one who does the running around. I only push the nurse call button if I can’t get out of bed without setting off any alarms. (I am guilty of setting those off a time or two.)
Despite the patience I used with my patients, I am the opposite as a patient myself. Part of this stems from my nursing background. I know what is happening with the many tests and procedures. Often, I think that I would rather not know. Besides that, I often “hold off” when I probably should go to the doctor.
I think that all medical staff should view care from a patient’s perspective at least once. It is an eye-opening experience. The perspective is different on this side of the chart and bed.
I am in a constant battle with myself. I often need to step back and reassess the situation. I have to remind myself that I am the patient. I remember my first hospitalization, more than 14 years ago. I told my medical team and family “to just fix me and get me back to my patients.”
Little did I know that I would not be caring for my patients again.
Recently, I reminded myself that caregiving can be performed in many ways. Offering comfort and support to a family member, friend, or another patient is something that I do almost daily.
Stepping back from my nurse mentality is still a challenge. But there are days when the symptoms and complications of PH mean that I need to rest. That often means mental breaks, too. This can be a struggle when I want to save the world. But I can’t help others if I am not taking care of myself first.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.