Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Open Letter

To the young lady who we had to restrain:

Dear V,

Everybody has their moments. If you don't believe me, come find me when the voice on the other end of the phone comes on after I've been on hold for 45 minutes and tells me that "your call is important to us."

You had yours today.

I know it seems unfair that your friends made you come into the ER because they thought you were overdosing on benzos to kill yourself. You say that you weren't. I understand. I don't take sides in situations like this, but when we get that kind of allegation, we have to look into it. You weren't in a good mood, and understandably so. That is why I took a lot of time to help you understand where we were coming from with everything that we were doing. I told you that if you are straight up with us, then we'll be straight up with you.

Then you decided that you were going to leave. "It's my right," you said.

No. It isn't. We tried for 15 minutes to talk you down, to help you understand. During that time you tied up the doctor, myself, three techs, another nurse, four security guards, and eventually, five police officers. I told you that we didn't want it to become a struggle, and you scoffed. Trust me, though, we really didn't want it to become a scuffle. If we are in this business, it is because we care about people and want to be healers.

But there comes a point where we just have to do what we have to do, and if we have any doubt about you being suicidal, we have to keep you. Yes, you read that correctly. We HAVE to. No choice.

I'm sorry that you ended up getting thrown onto the bed. I'm sorry that the police were gruff and rude. I'm sorry that the restraints made you feel like a criminal. I'm sorry for how the whole thing went down. But I don't say I'm sorry to transfer blame onto myself, my coworkers, or the police. In fact, this whole thing rests entirely on your shoulders. All you had to do was stay with us for just a little bit. If you were "framed", then we would be able to get a pretty good idea of that and let you go. No problems, no questions.

What is really ironic, V, is that just a few minutes after that cop pulled out his taser gun, the urine results came back. No benzos. Just before you stood up and started pulling wires off, the social worker was literally walking across the ER toward your room to interview you. You would have been out the door in 30 minutes. Free to enjoy the rest of your night as you pleased.

Instead, we had to keep you for several hours while we waited for you to calm down and the Haldol to wear off.

I'm a nurse. It is my job to make sure that you stay safe and healthy, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to do that, even if it means pages of notes and assessments every 15 minutes while I try to care for two other very sick people; even if it means standing there for 15 minutes to assure everyone's safety while you have that chat with your angry family member when I would rather be doing the 10 other tasks I have on my plate. I do it because I care.

See, what you may not understand now - or ever - is that everything I do is to help you have better outcomes. That is why I am a nurse.

So next time life throws you a curveball and you think the situation sucks, just roll with it. You are going to get through it, and we are there to help. So, in the words of the great philosopher Tom Cruise, "Help me help you."

Always there for you,



Karen said...

Hey Braden. I just found your blog by following a link from a link from a link...I'm just getting back into nursing after a couple of years off. Reading your blog reminds me of why I love being a nurse.


Braden said...


thanks for stopping by. It is only 12 dollars per visit (Visa and Mastercard accepted), so please come by as often as you want, and thank you for the compliment!


Unknown said...

Most modern benzos do not create a positive drug screen with most hospital tests, just FYI.