February 2021
Alan
Staltmeyer
,
RN, BS-Medsurg
Outerbridge 1
Capital Health Regional Medical Center

 

 

 

He said, "Don't worry, you're safe with me. I believe you and I won't let anyone do anything to hurt you because they don't understand." Allen had said the very thing I had needed to hear and I felt safe.

I almost feel like I don't have the words to express my gratitude for Allen. For this reason, I have put off this letter for a few days as I contemplated how best to convey it. The first encounter I had with Allen showed me a man as patient as any nurse I had ever met. He took the time—and I cannot convey to you how important this is, yes, even when it is busy—to listen to me about my condition. He asked intelligent questions and gave me a chance to answer them.

During our conversation, I informed him that I was a nurse as well and we talked about my critical care background. He also said something that stuck with me. He said that sometimes people "judge" him for choosing to be a med/surg nurse and not a critical care or ER nurse. I told him that we need excellent med-surg nurses too. He seemed surprised by the compliment and at one point told me that he "wasn't sure" if he was doing the right thing with his career. He said that his job made him happy, that he enjoyed it despite how other people saw him. Allen is in the right place. He does good work, and I am just one example of it. From the bottom of my heart, as an experienced nurse myself, this man deserves to be recognized so he stays exactly where he is. He is a blessing to nursing. The thing about him that really struck me was how valuable he must be as a preceptor. The kind of positive, supportive attitude he demonstrated is contagious. And I hope others continue to have an opportunity to catch it.

If this weren't reason enough, Allen said something to me that I didn't think anyone, aside from my nurse the night before, had even recognized. He said, "Don't worry, you're safe with me. I believe you and I won't let anyone do anything to hurt you because they don't understand." I am kind of proud of myself for not crying on the spot, but I did cry when I was alone later. I had needed to hear that very badly. Sometimes with PTSD, you can't really tell if you're reacting to something that is happening in the present or something that had happened in the past. The distinction feels a little like double vision. Like experiencing the past and present at the same time, often this is emotional. Ultimately, PTSD is a result of feeling unsafe. It is what happens after many hospitalizations where I feared that I would end up intubated, or worse, because the provider caring for me considered me "crazy" and dismissed me until it was too late.

Allen had said the very thing I had needed to hear and I felt safe. I trusted someone. As it turns out, with good reason. Allen was careful to advocate for me with the nurse practitioner who would be covering day shifts for the house on this unit for the rest of the week. After an initially challenging interaction with her, Allen managed to talk to her and advocate for me. When I met her again, she was understanding and receptive. Allen repeatedly told me that he was talking to her and that I didn't have to be concerned that she didn't believe me. He assured me that she wasn't going to put in any orders or notes that would harm me. She played an important role later.