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Thursday, May 16, 2013

people never forget who they are

The patient was in a raging fight with the nurses.  She was cursing and calling for her mother.  She was 97, so you know that her mother probably (quite certainly more like it) is not around other than spirit.  And so you think: somehow, some way, the nurses will think of a reason to call respiratory.

And, lo and behold, your beeper goes off.  You are called to assist this patient.  And it's not your muscles they want, and it's not your Ventolin they want, and it's not your oxygen they want: it's you.  It's your personality.

This is what happened to me tonight.  I entered the room and found it to be a patient I knew quite well.  She was a regular.  And she was one who was very bossy, picky, and quite cantankerous.  Many (most) of the nurses and doctors do not like her. But, for whavever reason, she has always like me.  When I work she makes sure I wake her for her treatments just so she can visit with me. 

So today I was called because of my communication skills.  I was called because I was the one person this patient liked.  And I was called so I would sit next to her, on the bed (that they just wrestled her into), and touch her hand. 

I said, "Hey, Mrs. Smith (fake name no doubt), what's going on tonight?

"The nurses are treating me like shit," She said angrily, "and you can go away too."

"What can we do to make things better for you?" I said.

So I talked to her like this for about a half hour, yet it didn't take that long to talk her down.  She told me about her mother, of whom she wanted to visit her.  She told me stories about her mom and dad and her sister.  Surely, she was hypoxic for so many years, and this was the person she had become.  She was living in the past. 

And the nurses weren't able to reach her.  But they forget, as it's easy to do when you're wrestling with a patient, that people never forget who they are.  People don't forget their past.  That's where you make contact.  It certainly beats wresting. 

And while I was talking with her the nurses were able to put the medicine in her system that was truly going to help her.  


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They were lucky to have you on shift that night! Thank you for all the work you do.