Two Sons, Similar injuries—Two Very Different Experiences of Pain

Vincent-2015-AJN_The_American_Journal_of_NursingWe are often amazed by the richness of the archives here at AJN. In the April issue, we reprint an essay originally published in the February 2002 issue. “Morphine. Now.” by Peggy Vincent, touches on topics as relevant today as ever: inadequate pain relief and the costs to patients of certain nursing scope-of-practice limitations.

It’s also a story, written by a nurse, of encountering very different attitudes to human suffering in two different health care institutions after injuries sustained by her own children. There may or may not be clinical details or matters of protocol that don’t accord with every reader’s current clinical experiences, but the human interactions are as familiar as ever. Here’s a brief excerpt:

As a nurse and midwife, I was usually able to provide relief with my presence and speech, my touch, or merely by making eye contact. But when my patients needed pain medication, I was forceful in getting a doctor’s order—immediately.

But standing beside my writhing son, I marveled at the callous attitude of most of the employees. How would they have responded, I wondered, if this screaming teenager had been their child?

But read the entire short essay and see what you think.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

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