Friday, October 21, 2011
I've been busy with more "stuff" I chose to do. Some is busy work, some is for fun. I've been working on projects around the house, trying to organize and clean out junk before winter.
Only a few days left of this gorgeous fall weather we've been having until the seasonal reality kicks in. Next week we might see our first snow this year. That's okay, I'm ready for it.
I have backed off on the bike, and running is steady but I'm not up to an hour yet. That could happen this weekend if all goes well.
I have things on my mind, other than running.
Last night I spoke at a cancer support group about the role of the nurse in care of the oncology patient. It was odd to be speaking about something other than running. It takes me out of my comfort zone. I spoke about what nurses do, how we are trained, and how oncology patients can get the most out of their time spent with the nurse. We have access to so much information and so many resources, but many patients don't know to ask about those things.
I think it went fairly well, though I felt somewhat nervous up there, talking about something I've only been doing for 5 years, and especially oncology nursing, which I've only been doing for 15 months.
The discussion at the end of the talk was lively. There is so much frustration among patients with certain aspects of healthcare in general. They are not frustrated with the nurses themselves, but with the flow of information and communication among providers, and not just physicians. There are so many gaps to fill, and nurses can do our part by being thorough in each interaction with a patient, but there are so many other interactions between patients and health care providers that we can't control.
As a result, nurses often end up picking up the pieces and filling in the cracks where we can. Our job is to make sure no one drops the ball when it comes to a patient's care, but we can only do that when we know something is missing- we have to discover it ourselves or hear it from the patient, and often we hear it from the patient too late. The health care system in this country has failed patients who have access to it in so many instances by providing inadequate and inconsistent information, that patients don't know where to turn.
What I didn't talk about last night was that the complaint I hear so often from nurses that the nursing profession itself is failing nurses. So many nurses are physically and emotionally unhealthy because of their working conditions and powerlessness to change them. They get frustrated and give up. How many obese nurses have you seen? I see a lot. Every day. Ever wonder why that is? Then look at the general public.
Nurses don't have a powerful organization lobbying for them. Physicians have the AMA. Nurses have the ANA, which is barely a whisper in comparison. It really isn't doing any justice to nurses who actually work in direct patient care. In nursing, to begin at the bottom, nurse education and nursing employment paradigms, need as much of an overhaul as health care in general does, along with our political system. What does that have to do with obese nurses?
Our country is failing- our leaders and our political system have failed us. They allow the powerful wealthy interests to dictate how things are run, not in the best interest of the people they are failing to serve. We have an oligarchy. And we are seeing the obesity that results from oligarchy. What do I mean by that?
Obesity is just one symptom of all of this. Keep the people in a fat and sedentary food and electronic gadget coma, keep them tired and busy and commuting and help them to be slaves to their objects so they won't have energy to stay sharp and fit, or to fight or even care. This helps to minimize their leisure time, and minimize their sleep. Minimize their energy and time to prepare, cook, and eat healthy food. A hamburger with french fries is much quicker to eat than a salad if you only have a 30 minute break in a 13+ hour day.
I wish nurses could be examples of healthy living for their patients. I wish people would change their lifestyles before they become patients in the healthcare system. I wish I wish I wish...and I feel powerless, even though I try on a daily basis to exemplify these things.
I've been watching the Occupy Wall Street movement from a skeptical distance but I can't help thinking that people are getting closer to the point where they are finally realizing that their apathy is costing them more than the risks of taking action do, and I believe that is precisely where we need to be going if we are ever going to save ourselves from destruction. Look at the puppets we supposedly send to Washington to represent us. Have they done anything for you lately? Keeping people divided and spreading misinformation is exactly how the powers-that-be, the oligarchs, want things to be in order to keep things going in their favor so they can retain power and wealth.
This isn't a blog about nursing or politics so I won't go any further here. I have so many thoughts on how nursing needs to change as a profession. And how health care needs to change. But it's just part of the bigger picture that has been eroding for a long time. Real people, every day, need to take responsibility for changing it. That's what I'm thinking about today.