Recently I was training in the triage area of the emergency department where I work. Triage is the area where you are seen once you walk through the front doors of the ER. It’s the place where you sit down, get your vitals checked and the nurse asks you a thousand and one questions. Some nurses hate working in this area, and others love it. The challenging nature of it forces you to think critically when presented with complaints and symptoms of a patient because often the triage note you write and the urgency score can determine how the doctors and nurses who will be directly caring for the patient and how they will perceive them and their path of care from there.
My husband, who also works in the ER, is an amazing triage nurse, so I used that to my advantage and tried to glean as much triage wisdom, knowledge and advice as possible from him during my training.
‘What picture do you want to paint?’ and ‘what story do you want to tell in 15 seconds?’ which is about how long it takes to read a good triage note, were a few questions he posed to help me triage someone optimally.
Essentially what he meant by both of those statements was to assess the patient, critically think about what could possibly be going on, and then tell the best story possible in just a few sentences.
What he said totally clicked with me because I love the art of storytelling. I love how you can use words to paint a picture and how few words are truly needed to communicate at times. I love the challenge of telling a great story. I love the challenge of painting a picture for others.
I’ve seen how the art of good storytelling is imperative in my work as a nurse in the ER to quickly, effectively communicate and how good storytelling is a significant aspect of being a great writer through my blogging and book writing endeavors.
But what I didn’t realize until recently is that good storytelling plays a role in my marriage.
I’ve found myself in situations recently with my girlfriends and even in groups with our other couple friends where I don’t tell the best story about my husband and vice versa. There have been a few times that this happened. We end up going home, one with hurt feelings and the other realizing that they didn’t tell the truest story about the other.
I’ll speak for myself and say that there are times that I don’t tell the best story about my husband. I can do this so easily and so unintentionally at times that it’s a little startling.
I’ll make my husband the butt of the joke rather than bragging on him for how amazing he is in front of our friends.
I’ll talk about the one tiny thing he did that annoyed me rather than naming the thousands of reasons why I love him.
When I do this, I tell a story but not the truest story about my husband.
And it’s definitely not the story that I want people remembering or believing to be true about my husband.
So I use my triage tactics and storytelling pearls when I find myself in conversations talking about my husband. I ask myself ‘Is this the picture I want to paint of my husband?’ or ‘is this the best and truest story about my husband?’
If the answer is ‘no’, then I find the words the tell a better story and paint a more accurate picture.
Stories are captivating and entertaining alike. Stories have immense power and purpose. They have the ability to teach and change us, bring hope and comfort, but only if they are told in the best way possible and if they are told truthfully.
Are you telling the best story about your spouse? Are you telling the truest story about the one you love most?