Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Judging People Superficially

on November 9, 2021
Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash

As a registered nurse, I took an oath to treat all of my patients equally, regardless of race, color, nationality, religion, sex, or anything else. So, it appalls me when I read stories about doctors, nurses, and even whole hospitals refusing to treat unvaccinated patients. THAT’S POLITICS – NOT HEALTHCARE. If you work in healthcare, you take all the necessary precautions, and you get in there and treat the patient, regardless of your personal feelings. Otherwise, you deserve to lose your license to practice.

In 2008, America had become color-blind enough to elect the first black President, Barack Obama. My husband and I both voted for him and were proud to do so at that time. And yet, here we are, thirteen years later, backsliding as a society into judging people by their superficial appearance and using race, prejudice, and bias to judge and condemn other people. It’s become a real epidemic, and frankly, I’m sick of it, because – once again – this is POLITICS, PROFILING, and BULLYING – something people claim to abhor.

When I was a registered nurse fresh out of school, the housekeeper on our hospital unit refused to clean the room of an AIDS patient. She was afraid, and the hospital sent her home. I volunteered to clean the room since I had established a positive rapport with the patient. I donned the appropriate gear and cleaned the room. While I was in there, she and I conversed, and she revealed how isolated and alienated she felt from other people. I took care of her many times after that incident. And I’m glad I did, because she died a few years later. She was only in her late thirties when she passed away. She was annoying in so many ways! She was demanding and obnoxious! And she had very poor hygiene. She came into the hospital with lice more than once. But she was suffering both physically and emotionally. She was human. I learned a valuable lesson about courage and acceptance. And I never got HIV/AIDS or lice from my interactions with her.

One morning, when I was starting my shift on an inpatient psychiatric unit, two Native American clients came up to me and started complaining about the nightshift nurse. They claimed she was rude to them and, therefore, must be a white supremacist racist who hated natives. Now, I knew this RN very well. I empathized with them because, yes, she could be very rude and abrasive to anybody. But racist? I smiled and informed them that she was a card-carrying member of the Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In fact, she is a direct descendant of Sequoyah, the Cherokee who created the first Cherokee language syllabary. The response I got was, “Well, THAT tribe will let anybody in!” However, they both looked very foolish and never mentioned it again. I informed the RN that patients had complained about her being rude, and that was the end of it.

Another morning, it was very early, and the only client awake and in the dayroom was a black man from Africa. He was ranting and raving about how racist the staff were and how victimized he felt. I got sick of hearing about it because I knew it wasn’t true. We had a very diverse team of workers who were black (some from Africa), Hispanic, Native American, white, gay, etc. I had never witnessed any incidences of racism or overheard any racist remarks made by staff on the unit. We all took pride in working as a team to treat our patients fairly, equally, empathetically, and compassionately. I slammed my fist down on the table, which shocked both my co-worker and the client, and said, “Bullshit!” He stopped ranting and raving, and then we talked about what was really bothering him. He was Muslim and needed a place to say his prayers. So I got him blankets and towels and whatever else he needed, and he went into a private place and said his prayers. He never talked about racism again, he participated in the program, and he was discharged a few days later. It may sound rough, but getting past the racism barrier helped this gentleman get the help he needed. I have never lied to my patients and never will. And sometimes the truth, no matter how raw, is what turns people around and sets them free from the demons they are fighting

The counselors on our inpatient psychiatric unit did not like talking to psychotic patients because they saw no value in it. However, I disagreed and always made a point of talking to them, if for no other reason than to establish some kind of rapport. One client was so manic, she was completely psychotic. She would crawl around on the floor, imitating different animals, eat with her hands, and refuse to talk to anybody. This had been going on for a while, without any improvement. One day, when I came on shift, she was in the quiet room talking to herself, dancing, jumping up and down, and basically “bouncing off the walls.” I sat in there for twenty minutes listening to her, asking her questions, and listening for that “thread of truth” that often came through when psychotics babbled on. It became clear to me as I listened to her that she just wanted to be normal and to be treated like everybody else. When I began talking to her about this, she nodded her head and suddenly stopped what she was doing. She calmed down. After that, she stopped all of her bizarre behaviors, took her medications, and quickly got well enough to go home. Why? Because somebody took the time to listen to her and look past her bizarre behavior.

As a registered nurse, especially as a psychiatric nurse, I have seen people at their worst and their ugliest. I have been called names, threatened, and ignored. I have never let that stop me from helping someone, if I could help them. And it has been the difficult ones, the ones who make you want to tear your hair out, who have been the most rewarding, — because they are the people who truly need the help.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

November 6, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


31 responses to “Judging People Superficially

  1. Timothy Price says:

    It’s really unfortunate how politics has been elevated above all else. Including human life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I’ve worked in healthcare/mental health since 1992, and I’ve seen a lot of negative changes – changes which are driving doctors and nurses away from the profession.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Timothy Price says:

        My brother-in-law is a nurse and he’s developed a negative attitude about the healthcare industry. His girlfriend is an ultrasound tech and she got fed up and quit. I’ve lost some really good doctors who simply walked away from the mess.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ” I slammed my fist down on the table, which shocked both my co-worker and the client, and said, “Bullshit!” He stopped ranting and raving, and then we talked about what was really bothering him.”

    And I think that was the key to effectively communicating. If a client cannot or will not explain their frustrations, it is necessary to cut through the bullshit to find the root of their annoyance and anger.

    I think if people were more open about their needs, a lot of conflict would be avoided.

    Great article and thanks for sharing your experiences in treating people with complex medical needs.

    M 🙂 https://thishappyhuman.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, sometimes you have to shock people back to reality. A lot of people cannot articulate their wants and needs -or they have no insight – so they “act out” with bad behavior and rudeness. Thank you for your insightful feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ingrid says:

    It’s refreshing to read about an attitude of tolerance for once!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. arbind kumar says:

    Nursing is itself one of the greatest services the man can do to a fellow human being . Whether you take oath or not , you should always be impartial in your services if you have chosen a profession like Nursing . This is a very pious profession . For a Nurse everyone is just like a child—–be it an old man or an infant . Nurses are mother if all mothers . In India Nurses are called sisters . But I personally feel and think that they should be called as mother , treated like a mother and in turn behave like mother . Thanks .

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Iowa Life says:

    Interesting perspective, and that’s in a controlled environment. What irritates me to no end is police interactions with the mentally ill. Screeching tires, loud sirens, flashing lights, yelled commands, pointing a gun at them, and invariably they end up dead.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Well, the last inpatient psychiatric unit where I worked treated the patients like criminals. It was the local police who were refusing to go along with it. They said the patients had rights, and they weren’t going to violate them. One of the reasons I quit that place is because they were violating people’s rights.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. You know Dawn, I am just as disgusted by the way we brutally treat each other these days, but honestly, I think it was probably covered up for a long time now and has been coming out of the closet slowly but surely where it is recognizably tragic. It’s sad, but many people turn a blind eye to how people who look different are treated. Trust me, I know. It’s sad that we see from “every” political side, weaponizing politics before people. 😣

    I agree with Ingrid when she mentions the divisiveness in politics taking away our focus from that which we all share in common, our humanity. Just remember how you want to be treated. I’ve seen karma work in some frightening ways, of which I want no part of. I think sometimes people forget about the Hippocratic Oath and perhaps that needs to be revisited each day. I hate when the flames of divisiveness are fanned so flagrantly. Until we learn to communicate and understand each other better, it won’t get any better without empathy, and compassion. 🤗 We can change things IF we want to. Thanks for such a passionate post today my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dawn; I’m going to plug this in here because I hear some people say they don’t like the politics, but, everything on this planet is now political, and if people can’t see that I pity them; look at the so called pope who really isn’t one and is all about a big lie, he is evil and I have no problem saying that being a Catholic as well.

    Nurses have always been to me Angels of Mercy like in the tradition of Florence Nightingale; that is of course the genuine ones like you, that are in the profession for the right reasons! Then Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, she was a nurse of the Ages!

    Now because I hear some different points here all understandable, but lacking in the fact that the problem is way much bigger than meets the eye or people really want to admit or actually can without losing it! Here is the tough pill to swallow! Just my view and so people can hate it if they want; no worries.

    Puppet Biden and the political elite are now running the economy into the ditch to collapse the middle class and set off a chain of events that will make the summer of 2020 mayhem look like a Campfire Girls overnight outing. Right off the top there is no Trillion dollars for fake-out infrastructure charades and backdoor profiteering scheme deals or $469 Billion for abortions; so the debt alone is driving the final nail into the heart of America; that and all of this SIN! Ask yourself who owns Biden and his ilk; that is the main driving force behind this meltdown, but, we already know who rules the dragon nation, the same one who possessed all the original communist dictators.

    Marx who acquired an eternal contract with the father of all lies drove his own daughters to commit suicide so they could burn in hell with him when he joined them later! Twinkle toed idiot AOC loves thinking herself a true Marxist at heart and look at her; she’s as useless as a box full of rocks, but somehow that is the waste material that gets installed in the DC Swamp while both sides of the putrid aisle sit and watch it happen! Ask yourself how did that happen, and you can figure it out easy enough as you examine who has the biggest bucks to install puppets and has stated he and others like him hate America?

    But it’s so easy for these most worthless human being rulers on the planet to control the majority of the populace because the masses are now so easily titillated, prodded or corralled like barn yard animals as they walk around in a fog staring at their Smart (Dummy) Phones, how many likes today or books did I sell to the jackasses; and in-between clamoring at each other about PC or Anti-bully manifestos; or now required reading for the tots, those books from the Leftist Socialist Commie AG’s son-in-law; needed in schools, but dump Cat in the Hat or Tom Sawyer! All that being so crucial along with CRT, and we may as well say it’s, pre-communist indoctrination; because as Lenin basically said straight-out; we won’t have to attack and kill you Americans, all we will do is just keep spoon feeding the spoiled crybaby Americans socialism little by little, until you “fall like ripe fruit into our hands!”

    And that is exactly what is going on now, with all of this “waste of time BS” about “we have to stop the bullies” when the real enemy is laughing at “these idiots” in America; and they the real enemy “are preparing to take us all over,” then it will really be “all over,” when they start the exterminations of such soft, dizzy, lost and useless people!

    So many people are idiots in this stupidity laden country now! It’s pathetic; because they can’t even see the forest for the trees to realize they were too busy picking fights over crap or Schmoozing on the web; instead of building a more powerful and well protected “United Nation under God!” They’re basically destroying themselves from within as they don’t see that the enemy is taking us over; but maybe will see it, when the hammer comes down on their stupid heads; but sorry, too little too late! They get what they deserve! Live like heathens die like em!

    Divided they stand, divided they fall.

    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/04/28/satans-venom-from-the-evil-snake-and-serpent-from-hell-that-even-tempted-jesus-in-the-garden-of-gethsemane/

    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/04/06/there-before-me-was-a-pale-horse-beginning-of-sorrows/

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow–all I can say is “well said.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You have an amazing attitude, Dawn. Keep doing the great work you’re doing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Impressive experiences in the diversity of humanities facets. I agree with you on all the above-mentioned criticism, but the refusal to take in sick patients tops it all, Capitalist America at its finest! The Australian government has given a clear message all patients regardless of being vaccinated or not, have to be treated.
    I admire your compassioned strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You speak from first hand experience trying to help everyone within the confines of the health care system. I enjoyed your insights that you share with us all. It was very well-written and made me aware of the complexities of dealing with people..as you say, even at their worst and ugliest.I admire your profession and your dedication to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dawn, you have my admiration and gratitude for choosing nursing as a profession. We all need competent and caring nurses to be there for us. Nurses and other medical professionals are the heroes of the pandemic.

    Thank you for following my blog. Have a joyful weekend! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. sharonstjoan says:

    Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and actions.

    Liked by 1 person

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