Nurses are amazing people - they work tirelessly in our hospitals and are on the frontline, fighting disease and injury every day. Their jobs are hard and sometimes under-appreciated, and yet nurses maintain professionalism and poise throughout it all.
There are some things they wish they could tell you, but would put their jobs at risk by doing so. Some of these things are about making their jobs a little easier, some of them are about keeping yourself safe. We as patients have a lot to learn! Here are ten things nurses wish they could say to their patients out loud.
1) Yes, you should have sought help when your symptoms arose. If that headache started a week ago, you should have been in here the next day. Yes, you have jeopardised your health significantly by putting this off.
2) Nurses are excellent at identifying a liar. When they ask you how much you smoke or drink, and you cut that number in half before telling them, they know it. You may as well be honest and fess up. The full truth about your lifestyle is necessary for them to create an appropriate treatment plan.
3) Speaking of lying... Nurses are also extremely experienced when it comes to assessing the amount of pain a patient is in. They ask you to rate it out of ten as a courtesy to you, but if you're quietly texting or playing tetris and then you tell them your pain is off the charts, they'll know that simply not true. They've seen pain, and that's not it.
4) Hospitals are filthy. Even though hospital personnel keep to the highest of hygiene standards, hospitals are still full of drug resistant germs. Take advantage of the hand sanitiser, and make sure your doctors and nurses are doing the same.
5) You might not be ready to go home. Hospitals are full, staffing is often low. So if you've shown a good improvement and the doctor thinks you've got a good shot at uncomplicated recovery, they'll send you home. This doesn't mean you won't recover well, but just be aware that you're not recovered yet. Take care of yourself and look out for symptoms.
6) We need to know everything. When a nurse is finding out your history, they'll ask whether you take any medications. This includes over the counter painkillers, herbal supplements - everything. It's frustrating when people don't give their full history, as even little supplements can interact badly with other drugs they might be thinking about giving you.
7) Your results are back, but it's not my job to give them. Sometimes nurses say your results aren't back, but that's only because it's up to the doctor to explain your results to you, particularly if they're bad news. If you knew they were back and your nurse wasn't telling you, you'd worry. It's all about patient management.
8) We have to deal with the red tape first. Patients can be demanding - especially when they're in pain - urging the nurse to get more medication, or a different medication, or any number of other requests. What patients don't always appreciate is that for every little pill given out - even a simple aspirin - nurses have to complete paperwork and adhere to strict procedures.
9) You need to drink lots of water before we take your blood. If a nurse is drawing your blood and it's taking a long time, think about whether you drank any water in the last few hours. It's very difficult to get enough blood from someone who is dehydrated.
10) Positivity matters. Nurses have seen it all, and can attest to the fact that laughter is a great medicine. When you're sick, keep a positive attitude. It'll have great benefits for your health, but also makes you a great patient and encourages the hospital staff to give their very best for you.
When we're sick we think that the world revolves around us, but truthfully, nurses are rushing between patients with a whole range of health issues and diagnoses. We are probably not their top priority. Nursing is a tough job - as patients we need to make that job a tiny bit easier by being honest and keeping positive.