Wednesday, October 22, 2008

sepsis of the profession

I recently discovered this fascinating line in The Emerald, a short story by Donald Barthelme. Being a critical care nurse, I could not help but be drawn to it.

For those of you not in the medical field, sepsis is a life-threatening full body reaction to an infection in the blood. That's a very simplified definition.

The dialogue contains a journalist, Lily, who is filled with disbelief at the sight of a 7,035 carat emerald speaking to her. She is told that disbelief is the sepsis of her profession. It hampers inquisitiveness. It kills the news story.

Indifference is the sepsis that plagues the nursing profession. How many times have I heard "I'm just here for the paycheck," or "I just do my 12 hours and go home?"

I guess it's because so many nurses have let go of the polished-white nursing shoe attitude that causes them to spring out of school proclaiming "I'm going to help someone!"

After several occasions of being threatened with a full airborne urinal, one can only muster so much patience and good-natured caring attitudes.

Maybe it is indifference that enables us to carry on with the job, though. To learn to not care about so many insignificant little things, to not take so many words to heart, to let them go in one ear and out the other. To be able to go home, sit down with a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV, open a book, read about someone else's life, and forget about the day where you successfully fended off an old lady who simultaneously wanted to bite you and get her pants off so that she could play tug of war with her foley catheter.


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