Lots of Spills and Sunshine

Lots of Spills and Sunshine

Monday, May 9, 2011

A little bit of love for purple orchids

When I began nursing I was sure I would not enjoy the geriatric psych rotation as much as the others but.... the more I took care of those wonderful people the more I realized they were just like little children, the main difference being a body that was no longer cooperating and a mind that was too tired to function.
They require the same TLC, body care and attention as little children, their attention spans are that of little children( not much at all :) ), they require redirection, and plus plus prompting, smiles and activities. The psych component makes them all the more interesting and multi dimensional.
Still coming off of my mothers day emotional roller coaster :) I started my new job at the IPU and I had the pleasure of caring for a woman who seemed to not 'be there' anymore, her speech was disorganized, she spoke mainly in German and her body was frail, she was confused and did not recognize anyone , even me after a few minutes and required 1 to 1 care, it broke my heart. But when she looked at her tiny little flower pot she would cry and whisper like she was talking to a little baby, for whatever reason that purple orchid reminded her of someone or something, she would stroke the leaves and place is so carefully by the window and she would cry as she told it how much she loved 'the little baby'. Even in a time and place where are minds cannot function in a recognizable way, we don't know what day it is or even who we are, there is always something or someone that can trigger emotion and memories. I have seen it in patients who supposedly have no ability to remember or recognize, in patients that are about to die, in patients that are so encompassed by their mental illness and so on.
I need these small reminders that there is hope even in the darkest of moments, that even purple orchids can make someone who "cant remember", remember.
The hardest part of becoming a psychiatric nurse is that I cannot cure and save people, there is no magic wand that can take their afflictions away. I don't think I will ever understand why people have to suffer so much, it truly breaks my heart, to see people overcome by hallucinations, delusions and panic. I ask why? a lot...
What I am grateful for is the opportunity to learn and grow while caring for psychiatric patients, it is truly tiring and rewarding all wrapped into a big bow!
I don't understand why when people break their legs we give sympathy and support in the form of crutches and cookies and when people have schizophrenia, major depression or suicidal ideation we judge, scoff and call them "crazy'' ? You cant snap out of schizophrenia just as much as you cant snap your broken bone back in and miraculously recover. I guess I am just on a mental health rant because one of the major hurdles for psychiatric patients is stigma and it is something that we can all stop.


ColleenDown said...

You will have so much to teach us--keep posting. I have always found it interesting that often in movies and novels it is a mentally ill person who sees things "as they really are." One of the best examples was in the movie Revolutionary Road. Another great movie was Temple Grandin. Often the mentally ill or mentally handicapped are so guileless and without deceit that they truly look at the world as is it...it is unnerving and so totally refreshing all at the same time. Sounds like you have found your calling. (Mother's Day meltdowns are the way the rest of us cope with the insanity!)

jessica&john.com said...

Chelsea, you are an angel. I have a small inkling of how much patience and love it takes to deal with some of these individuals. You are perfect for this job. It would be so hard to have a child with these conditions but it would give me so much peace knowing that they were around people like you.
Keep your stories and experiences coming b/c I am living my working woman/student/mom life, through you:)

Heather said...

I think a lot of the reason people (meaning me) react differently to mental illness is that they just don't have the experience to know what to do. Thanks for helping me too see a little clearer, and I agree with my mom, please keep teaching.