Sunday, June 05, 2005

Swear to God, I'm gonna kill somebody one of these days.

Not in the medical-malpractice sense, either.

One of the weird things about nursing is how dichotomous it is. One week, you'll get patients who will actually use their incentive spirometer (a fancy name for a widget one breathes into to keep the lungs healthy), walk when they're supposed to, and generally work at getting out of the hospital. Their families will be understanding and kind, and the doctors will respond to pages.

The next week you'll get people like I got this week.

Papa is in his mid-seventies with a new diagnosis of Parkinson's and dementia. Papa don't walk so good, as evidenced by Mama's dislocated shoulder. He fell, she tried to catch him, and they ended up in a pile on the floor with Mama underneath. It's amazing neither of them broke a hip, but then, stupid people tend to bounce instead of shattering.

Papa is a max assist, three people, and stands well over six feet tall. I am short. I mean, *short*. As in I put everything on the bottom shelves of my kitchen cabinets because I can't reach the second shelf short. Which, as you might imagine, puts me at a small disadvantage, leverage-wise, when moving folks like Papa onto and off of a bedside commode.

So why did Mama stand so close to me as I was helping two other people move Papa? Why did I have to tell her twice to back off (nicely, of course), and then actually almost knock her down when Papa sagged? Why? Why don't these people listen to me? I do, after all, do this every day.

Or the nice man with the crazy family. "He's a hard stick. The last hospital, they had to have five people try to get an IV in. You might want to call somebody...older, you know? Like, are you able to do this? I mean, do you know how to start an IV?"

By which time I'd gotten a nice big peripheral line, one stick, in a place it wouldn't bother him or be painful. I do, after all, do this every day.

Or the nice woman with the crazy family. "She's got thrush on her tongue. She needs Nystatin. I mean, that thrush is nasty. Look at how it rubs off when you swab her tongue."

Thrush doesn't rub off. The patient is also on long-course Diflucan therapy for yeast in other places, so thrush is a remote possibility. I suggested to the patient that she actually *brush her teeth* (without mentioning that her breath could knock over a horse), thus decreasing the problem.

Did I mention that I do this on a daily basis?


The one bright spot in the crowd of psycho patients' families and obnoxious doctors was the guy who owns one of the best Italian restaurants around. His wife kindly brought me a sampling of food for dinner--three takeout boxes' worth--which I ate with relish for lunch the next day.


Helen said...

Just to say I think your blog is great! I work in care and I know how hard it can be, but my job is so easy compared to yours. I don't think I could do it! Glad you got your little perk at the end of the shift - takeout!!

Yolanda said...

Ah yes...I've had a similar week. I had one patient who insisted (and his family) that we had stolen his T-shirt. Apparently, it was too difficult for them to look in the drawer next to the bed to see his t-shirt there. Then there was the patient who's granddaughter came to visit and yelled at us for her grandfather not being showered yet. He's an independent patient (can take care of himself), and when asked earlier if he would like to get cleaned up, declined the offer. He said he wanted to wait for his granddaughter. Fine with me, but why didn't he tell her that!!!

Finally, we had one patient who acted like a complete assist all the time. Had us bed bathe him, get his food ready, etc. His wife came to visit and informed us that we were spoiling him and he can do all of that himself. When he was confronted about it, he admitted that he had no physical limitations and can take care of himself. Thanks for taking up a huge amount of my time. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about patient care, but if you can do it for yourself, I'm going to encourage it!