I was sitting in the lounge eating lunch when the vice principal approached me, “Nurse, so you tell me what I should do. Let’s say you have a student, her nose is bleeding, has been bleeding and keeps bleeding and…”
I stop her, “Wait. Is this happening now or is this a what if?” She looks sheepishly at me, “You’re at lunch, I don’t want to interrupt you. It’s a 4th grader in the bathroom. We’ve tried to stop it but it won’t stop!” Isn’t that nice? People who actually avoid interrupting you during lunch? I laughed and got up, following her to the bathroom.
I walk into a bloody scene, a panicked student and over-interested classmates. I announce, “Unless you have to poop you need to leave the bathroom now.” Embarrassment is always a room clearer. I take the old, bloodied napkin from the student and press a bundle of paper towels over her nose, squeezing so hard she tears up. She tries to grab the napkin when I say, “I know it hurts but if you don’t press hard enough, up high enough it’ll just keep bleeding.” She cries, I reassure, she yelps, I reassure. I glance at the vice principal who is witnessing the scene. She shakes her head, “This is why we need a nurse.”
Working with the general public without any other healthcare professionals around I have realized an important fact: I don’t care if you’re in pain. It is not my priority. Nurses say it’s a priority and sure, it is on our check-list of items to address. But it is not THE priority. The priority is safety & stabilization — at all costs. Oh, I’m sorry, are you crying because you have to eat dry cereal since you have a severe reaction to milk? I really don’t care. Aw, are you sad that you can’t play with the other kids in gym because you have a cast on? Life sucks sometimes.
I have spent a lot of time being overly sensitive to people’s pain, even as a child. Sometimes, thinking about all the pain in the world weighs me down to the point of depression. But when there is a physically acute issue at hand, I have absolutely no guilt whatsoever — I am willing to inflict as much pain as possible if it means you keep breathing. I didn’t realize I had this “ability” to ignore pain until working around non-healthcare professionals. Most people feel such guilt, even for the smallest thing like pinching hard enough a kid cries during a nosebleed. I’m not sure what gene I possess that allows me to disregard it so easily but I am grateful I have it. Caring about everyone else’s pain is no way to live. In fact, it will cripple you.