Posted by: PD Warrior | February 2, 2016

Who Needs A Doctor When We Have Google?

I remember the very 1st day of nursing school. The director of the Nursing department at my college gathered all the incoming 1st year students together in the auditorium, stepped up to the podium, and tapped the microphone. Once she was sure she had our undivided attention she snapped her fingers in the air. As if by magic all the lights in the auditorium went off and the room went dark, leaving nothing visible except the screen in the center of the room with a single powerpoint slide glowing on it for all to see. The message on the slide very simply said:

Welcome Future Nurses! The light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off in 3…2…

And with a second snap of her finger even the power point presentation went black, leaving us in a state of darkness that could only be described as deafening.

No one knew what to say, so we all said there quietly, saying nothing. As soon as she felt that all of our eyes had sufficiently adjusted to the pitch black, she turned all the lights back on – effectively blinding us all permanently. Or so we thought.

Once we could all see again, she got back up in front of the class and explained that was the 1st of 3 great truths that we would all soon come to understand. She went on to say that in nursing school, as in real life, there would be times when all seemed hopeless. Times when we would begin to think we would not survive. Times when it seemed as if we would never find our way out of the tunnel. She promised it would be then, when the tunnel seemed to be the darkest, that the light would come back on.

Then she passed out a packet of papers, face down, telling us not to turn the packet over until instructed to do so.  Once everyone had received a set of papers she explained to us that it was a pop quiz on the first chapter of the Nursing Text that we should have purchased a week ago and already started reading. Ready…set…go!

We all gasped, as none of us had bought our books yet. We were all going to fail out of class on the first day!

Slowly we all turned our papers over, and there, in big block letters was yet another simple phrase:

Just Kidding!

The remainder of the pages were covered with nursing/health related cartoons, pictures, and jokes.

Truth number 2, she said, was that laughter was not only the best medicine, but if it wasn’t already, it soon would be our best friend. She went on to stress that nursing was no laughing matter. That it was serious business. Deadly serious. So serious at times, that if we as nurses did not laugh, we would cry.

You see, as nurses we are put in situations that no-one but another nurse would ever believe, much less understand. Doctors have the luxury of writing the orders then leaving. Nurses have no such luxury. Once the orders are written we look them over, double checking them. Making sure the doctor did not make any mistakes, then correcting the almighty doctor when we find mistakes. (And we do find mistakes, because you see, even thought they don’t like to admit it, doctors are human too.) We stay with the patients after the doctor leaves the room. We answer the questions that patients and families were too afraid to ask the doctor. We translate the ‘medical speak” into terms normal people can understand. We provide shoulders to cry on. We wipe butts and tears with equal parts of ease and understanding. We see things that no eye was meant to see. We put our hands into places hands were never meant to go. We hold people as life begins, and we hold people as life ends.

And at the end of the day we survive by laughing at things no-one else understands.

Truth number 3 came on the last page of the packet of jokes. It was a simple statement. One that nobody took seriously at first, but one that turned out to be very prophetic. It said:

By the time you finish your nursing education you will have convinced yourself that you have every single symptom of every single disease you have ever heard of.

We all laughed the hardest at the one.

Turns out she wasn’t joking.

Turns out she was also right.

If left to our own imaginations, we all would have diagnosed ourselves with every single disease/malady/unfortunate condition known to man kind. The most important lesson is that not everything is what it seems. Not everything is “textbook perfect.” A lot of diseases mimic other diseases. Just because you might think you have some symptoms does not mean you have the disease. More often than not, a little bit of knowledge is a whole lot of dangerous.

So where am I going with this? How do the three basic truths of Nursing apply to Parkinson’s Disease?

It’s simple, really.

Truth number 1: So, you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. There is no denying it, that sucks. And for a while at least, the tunnel will seem very, very, very dark. But eventually the light will come back on. Have patience. Have faith.

Truth number 2: Laugh. Just laugh. If you can’t laugh at your self, laugh at someone else. Laugh at me – I can take it. Laugh at something, anything! But laugh. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine. And if you let it, it will get you through like nothing else can.

Truth number 3: Google is not your doctor. Just because Google has convinced you of something, does not make it true. Google is a tool. Nothing more. Use it like a tool. Use it to expand your knowledge. Use it to answer some of your questions. Better yet, use it to help formulate questions to ask your physician. Make lists. Dig. Probe. Enquire. But in the end, trust your physician.

Oh, and be nice to your nurses – we’re the ones that keep the doctor from accidentally killing you!

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