Today I had the unfortunate distinction of repeatedly making my patient more uncomfortable. Other than the fact that the guy is 90, he has another reason to be in pain—a broken bone. On top of that, he is also constantly cold and despises having the covers pulled back. (He usually has eight blankets on him.) During my 6 hours as his nurse, he was moved from the ED stretcher to his bed, then on a stretcher to X-ray where he had to sit for a film and was then put back in his bed. About 15 minutes later he had to be moved back to the stretcher again to go for another test, and then put back to bed again. He is mostly immobile. This means that every time we transferred him we had to pull him from the stretcher to the bed and then roll him back and forth to remove the excess linens and pull sheet. Then his heels had to be floated, a pillow put under one hip, the condom cath repositioned, and his heart monitor put back on. All this motion had him flustered, uncomfortable, and in pain. Finally, the last time we were repositioning him, moving the sheet, reattaching things, he sighed and said, “You know, if you just told me what it is you’re looking for in the sheets, I’ll gladly tell you where it is!”
Tag Archives: elderly
Several weeks ago, when I was getting report to start my shift, I was told that my patient, “MR. X,” was a VIP. I immediately started to worry. Some people (VIPs or otherwise) are so used to being treated like masters that serving them is burdensome. They don’t know why they don’t get fresh ice every hour, no one is ever polite enough, and they can’t stand the food. Some of them order out for dinner consistently. They think they’re at the Four Seasons—and that my helping them order out is the most important task of my shift.
However, Mr. X was a very pleasant surprise. He is an elderly, retired gentleman, who was affiliated with our university for decades and received many accolades throughout the years. When I walked in he shook my hand, asked how I was, and smiled. He complimented the staff and the food and never complained. Every time I walked in the room he found a way to call me by name, smile, and engage me on a personal level. He made us all feel important. At the end of my shift when I said goodbye he said, “It was really nice to meet you. Good luck with all your endeavors.”
Nice to meet you indeed!
Doctor: “HELLO, MISS SMITH, HOW ARE YOU THIS MORNING!?!”
Oh, for all the times I’ve heard clinicians practically yelling at patients… And yet, I’ve only once heard a bold patient respond:
“Why are you yelling at me? I’m sick and I’m old, but I’m not deaf!”
You go, girl.