Real nursing confessions: Right. My right, or your...

Real nursing confessions: Right. My right, or your right?

I think I skipped those classes at primary school that taught me right from left. I’m going to be totally honest, I know the concept of right or left, but I don’t know them. Not with ease anyway. For most people, it’s probably something that doesn’t even need thinking about, like asking what number comes after 23. It’s natural, it’s 24, it’s left that way and right the other. For me, I really have to think about what’s on my right and left.

Even worse, anatomical right and left are backwards.

So, imagine someone is standing in front of you, face to face. A patient, if you will. Imagine you look at them and you see, to your right, a cannula. You must document this, obviously, so you don’t get a panicked phone call at 3am from your newly discharged patient too terrified to remove it themselves. But it’s actually on their left arm. So rather than document according to what you see, on your right, you document what THEY see. And it is on their left. Right?

This means I have to do some visualisation when someone asks me to take out the right cannula. Almost an out-of-body experience, I visualise my entire body leaving my body and settling into the body of my patient. YES I KNOW THIS IS WEIRD. With my imaginary body, I then know which arm needs attention. Left or right.

Look. I’ve just spent weeks learning all million bones in the body and which muscles attach to them. I’m sure this will come in time.