Monday, April 19, 2010

Mother and Nurse

Being a mother is something I don’t take lightly. I dreamed about being a mother, the beautiful children I would have and the life I would give them. Never once in any of those dreams however, were special needs, a wheelchair or being a health care advocate. Nonetheless I am blessed with two beautiful children, and I have tried my best to give them a good life. I myself was abundantly blessed by a wonderful mother. The journey we shared during her seven-year cancer battle in my early twenties taught me many of the skills that I needed during Michael’s illness. Even though she died many years before Michael was born, it was the grace she displayed in the way she lived her life and her end of life that resonated in me during the years we advocated for Michael - that love and service was my compass.

I think it is of the utmost importance that health care providers, especially in this current climate of overworked, understaffed nursing, draw a clear and distinct line between mother and nurse. The role of mother is often defined as a nurse in every day life so it is difficult to navigate in, especially when involved in a long-term health crisis such as ours. Too often in the health care process and primarily with nurses, I was forced to leave my role as Michael’s mother to become proactive mediator and act as some sort of liaison between the multitudes of specialty care. Many times I was in charge of making sure blood draws were consolidated, doctors orders were current and medications were correct. When actually what I should have been doing was simply holding Michael’s hand, calming his fears and assuring him that everything was going to be alright. I was constantly torn between meeting the needs of my son as his mother and bridging the gap between nurse and other medical staff that were either not doing everything they should or not doing what they promised to do.

The family especially the Mother holds an important role as advocate and caregiver for the patient, but it has to be a partnership that exists between family, patient and nurse. If each person maintains their given role, automatically it will provide a good experience for everyone. I will admit that at times being Michael’s mother wasn’t an easy job, but it was filled with life-altering events surrounded by great love, much like the job of nurse. I believe we can enhance the human experience in health care by redefining the relationship and roles of patient to family to provider. This will give any mother who has ever slept in a wooden rocker next to her sick child in the hospital a chance to simply be a mother.

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