Telling the truth

Tim - Ellsworth, Maine
Entered on October 9, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in telling the truth. I believe I have an obligation to my patients to tell and uphold the truth at all times. This is what enables me to be a better nurse, husband, and father.

One of the profound memories of my youth was a lie I told to my father. It was stupid really. I had done something wrong and when questioned by my father, before even thinking, I denied the allegation. My father started towards me, stopped and composed himself a little, and said in a menacing voice, “Don’t you ever lie to me.” I thought I was going to get hit and jumped back. Seeing my fear, my father turned and walked away.

Over the years I would occasionally lie to escape blame or punishment. Then a funny thing happened. I became a parent myself. Still, telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, hadn’t quite sunk in. Then in the blink of an eye everything became crystal clear. I was watching the movie “Hook” with my daughter when Hook, played by Dustin Hoffman, is called a liar by a little girl. Hook looks at her, laughs and says, “Lie! No my dear, the truth is much more fun.” It was from this point on that I made telling the truth one of my highest priorities. After all, if I am going to teach my daughter to tell the truth, I must do the same.

Of course, 22 years in the military helped shape me a little. Small sayings like “bad news doesn’t get better” or “if you don’t know something, just say, “I don’t know” surely helped to keep me focused. Now I am on the brink of becoming a nurse. I know there will be times when I won’t know something a patient may ask. It will be at those times when I fall back on my old training and just say, “I don’t know.” Then I will go find another nurse to explain the answer to the patient while educating me.

Spending half my life in the military has also taught me the importance of brevity. “Keep it short and simple”, I was always told. As a nurse, I know this will be somewhat of a challenge for me. People in need of not just medical care but also tender loving care will be looking to me for answers. What if the question is, “am I going to die?” This is something I find myself struggling with. Will I just say, “Yes” in military fashion or will I see this person as perhaps my own child in need of a reassuring answer. I don’t have that answer yet; I will have to wait and hope my better judgment prevails. No matter how I answer the patient, I will always tell them the truth.