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True Confessions of a Cardiac Nurse (Guess Who’s Getting in the Way of Health?)

Posted By Mark Sisson On May 24, 2007 @ 11:55 am In Health,Interviews | 11 Comments

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Kendra James and I have been a cardiac critical care nurse for many years. I also write Diabetes Notes [7] and A Hearty Life [8] for b5media [9]. I have so much to say about health care, nutrition and being heart-healthy. Mark asked me to share some of the thoughts that I ponder frequently and that quite frankly, just get under my skin. Buckle up, ‘cause here we go!

Do you want to know what gets me all fired up?

Repeat offenders.

No, I don’t mean the kind that are convicted and thrown in jail (I have a pretty strong dislike for them also though). I am referring to the patients that frequent the hospital so much, I know their likes, dislikes and family members by first names. I am not speaking of the very sick, terminally ill, or justifiably admitted patients, but rather, my cardiac patients that just don’t get it. Well, to be totally honest, they choose not to get it! Ugh…

How many times in one month can you do dietary teaching for the same person? You go through the whole spiel. Print it out on paper, review it with their family members, address any questions they might have and do this all with a smile on your face just to repeat the whole process 12 days later. Does anyone else out there feel my pain? Low fat, low cholesterol, restricted salt diet equals success for the cardiac patient. Fast food 5 times a week followed by 14 cups of coffee a day, and no-holds-barred on the salt shaker equals a visit with this very irritated nurse yet once again.

I care about my patients, I mean truly care about their health and well being. I want to know I provided a service to them and gave them the tools they need to maintain their health outside the hospital. When I have a MI, myocardial infarction, or CHF, congestive heart failure, patient that is signing himself or herself out 6 times a day to go and smoke, I just don’t get that warm ‘n fuzzy. Would you?

I know that the majority of health care professionals, including doctors, feel the same way. Believe me, it is a common topic among the staff at any hospital. What could I do to get my point across in a more effective way for these “repeat offenders”?

I guess I could adapt the attitude that some of my fellow nurses and physicians have, and just not give a hoot. I could say, “I’m getting paid one way or another,” but that just isn’t me. I am one of the nurses with empathy and compassion who wants to make a difference. You thought there were none of us left, huh?

So, to answer my own question, I guess that is why I got into health care blogging. I want to provide education and resources to people who actually want it; people who are listening to what I have to say, even if not always agreeing. Being a diabetic and cardiac critical nurse, I feel I have something to offer patients and health care providers. My sites Diabetes Notes [7] and A Hearty Life [8] do just that. Check them out if you want to hear what else this very opinionated and caring nurse has to say on a daily basis.

Thanks for stopping by to give us the inside track, Kendra. It’s all too easy to place the entirety of the blame for our unhealthy problems squarely on the shoulders of Big Pharma, HMOs, or – in our view – unenlightened doctors and nurses. This is a prescient reminder that good health requires that everyone take responsibility – most importantly, you.


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