Monday, July 25, 2016

Ignorance and Bigotry

Readers, this past week, I heard of two ugly encounters in the emergency department. Two patients disrespected the nurses who were trying to help them because of the color of their skin. Sadly, this is nothing new. I wrote this letter about 15 years ago after a similar experience. Somehow, the hateful vitriol is further emboldened by xenophobic rhetorics from bullies and haters. I have always worked with an exemplary diverse staff who see patients as human beings. I stand proud as an American citizen and as a nurse, even as we face all these challenges with professionalism and decency. As the incredible First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama elegantly said, "When they go low, we go high".

Dear patient,

I wish I can erase that hatred in your heart, that xenophobic attitude against anyone who doesn’t look like you. You cursed at me and told me to “return to my country”, even as I was just trying to triage you. I swallowed the bile in my throat as you ranted about immigrants who stole your job. I have two college degrees, dear patient. Based on your incoherent and ungrammatical ramblings, I am pretty sure you could not perform my job.

I knew you were sick so I ignored your blatant racism. I allowed my orientee to interview you just so I can get enough information why you have tachycardia and back pains. I did not call security to escort you out because I realized that you needed medical help, despite the obscene gestures. You are an ignorant and a bigot, but you are my patient.

You don’t know that I was the one who recognized that you were dying. You even refused to be seen by our Asian ED doctor and the African-American resident. But then, you collapsed in front of us. You don’t know that I was the only one who could insert a good IV line in your fragile veins. Now that you are unconscious, you would never realize that the emergency team who took care of you was a diverse group, a multi-colored group of professionals. If you knew you were dying, would you have accepted our ministrations?

The rainbow of ethnicities in our emergency team did not divide us but instead united us in our efforts to serve the diverse community. Our team of doctors, nurses, and other ancillary staff did not care about the color of your skin. There was no question about your sexual orientation, or political and religious affiliations. All we were concerned was to race against time to save your life.

You are our patient. If you are conscious, we would not tolerate your disgusting behavior. But unfortunately, you are now intubated and brain-dead. So we have to be blind to your faults. We will not respond in kind to your ignorance and bigotry. Despite your evil thoughts, we will remain true to our sworn oath to take care of you, as we do with all our patients. I see you as a human being. No matter what.

Your Filipino-American nurse

P.S. You signed an Organ Donor Card. It is great that you did not state a preference for the recipients of your organs. I'm sorry that you would not be able to read this letter. I was hoping this would open your eyes and touch your heart.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Nurse Cartoons

Cartoons paint eloquent visuals of a nurse’s life. There are so many stories to tell, sometimes sad, mostly funny. We cannot take things too seriously while at the work place. For there is so much more that we can poke fun at. After a hard day’s work, we need to take a deep breath to remind ourselves why we go through the stress of taking care of others.

Laughter is the best medicine, so they say. Laughter is a tonic that releases endorphins. It’s a feel-good chemical, a natural high. It is an antidote to a negative vibe. A chuckle is a start to a rumbling roar of a hearty, ROFL laugh. We should always share a smile, a chuckle, a giggle, a guffaw, and a belly laugh. Negative out, positive in. Leave the work drama behind. Come and draw a cartoon.

More to see at: