I had another young patient in the ER for drug related problems. As the doctor was bedside and I was assisting him in a procedure, the patient mentioned that she was starting nursing school. The doctor engaged in some more chit chat and then left the room. I decided we were going to have a little talk while I bandaged her wound.
"We're going to have a chat."
"I know, I know....I did a stupid thing. I swear this is the last time I will do something this stupid. I've only done this once before."
"Yeah, well....you say you're starting nursing school, if that is a goal of yours, you're not going to reach it by doing this. You can't be a nurse and do drugs. No one will trust you or hire you."
"Look, I'm old enough to be your mother, so I'm going to give you a little motherly advice."
"You don't look old enough to be my mother."
"Well, I am."
"My mom is a drunken bitch, she's horrible."
"I'm sorry about that.....do you want to do the same thing to your child? Do you want your baby to have the same childhood that you did?"
"You're young, pretty, and you must be intelligent to get into that nursing program - you have a great opportunity to have a terrific life.....do you want to trade all of that and your children for this?" I held up a vial to make my point. She looked at me with tears in her eyes.
"This will take away everything you have in life and this will be the only thing you will have left. Is it worth it to you? Don't answer me, just please think about it. Get help if you need to. Don't go down this path. Don't do this to yourself and your family. Don't trade this for your baby. You can have such a wonderful life, you can be a great mom to your child, you can have a loving family life even though you didn't when you were young, you can have a satisfying career.........don't throw it all away, don't let this take it all from you because it will. Think about it, okay?"
She shook her head.
After I did her discharge teaching, I turned to her and told her she could get dressed and go home.
"Think about what we talked about, okay?"
"I don't ever want to see you back in my ER for this again. I mean it."
As she was leaving she passed me in the hall, gave me a tight hug and whispered, "Thanks for being my mom."
And then she left.
I try to talk to every drug user that I have as a patient. I realize it's mostly wasted breath on my part, but if I can reach just one person, just one.....then it's worth it.
I have hope for this one.