Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Time for another "humorous diatribe"

Helpful tips for hospital patients, drawn from life...

1. If your nurse is trying to get a history from you, it's not the time to answer your cell phone, order a pizza, start manicuring your nails, try to set up your 'Net connection, or take calls from your constituents.

2. Likewise, if you're the family member of a patient who has global aphasia (think: unable to speak, write, or comprehend; limited only to pleasant smiles and gestures), now is not the time to book it toward the exit door. Stick around. Knowing what Mom is allergic to is really nice in these situations.

3. If you are one of those people lucky enough to have an entourage, whether privately or publicly funded, they're going to have to leave the room during the exam. The gentleman with the expensive suit, earpiece, and suspicious lump in the armpit of his suit will not tell me more about your neurological status than I can find out on my own.

4. A special note for elderly Yankees, or those who have moved to Florida: I don't know what kind of nurses they have in your universe, but I am not "the girl." I am not a waitress, maid, personal secretary, dogsbody, factotum, or whore. I have a particular job to do, and you're not making it much easier. Plus, the amount of money you donated to the hospital makes little or no difference to me. You're still gonna get stuck.

5. Speaking of needles, I don't care who you are. You don't get to refuse the urinalysis, the IV start, the fluids, getting weighed, the CT scan, or the bloodwork. You are ill enough to be in the hospital; this is what we do in the hospital. I won't argue with you, either; I'll simply tell your surgeon that you're refusing treatment, and you can go home, enormous bleed/fulminating meningitis/giant tumor and all.

6. Please bring your medications, or a reliable list of them, with you to the hospital. This helps me in two ways: I don't have to butt heads with my beloved pharmacists about what sort of small, blue pill you might be taking for your sugars, and (more importantly) it lets me know what sort of person you are. If I see that you have a mostly-full bottle of Cipro with you that your doctor prescribed for you to take "when I'm not feeling well", and I see the name of a tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners internist on the label, I will immediately know that you're the sort of obnoxious bully who's worth risking a resistant infection for rather than arguing with.

7. Please don't bring anybody else's medication with you. I don't care what Papa takes, only what you do.

8. And for God's sake, don't hide stuff in your bed. I *will* find it and you *will* have it taken away from you. There are doctors who will write orders for a Scotch and soda before bed. Find one.

9. Don't abuse your privilege. I'm talking here about the patients who threaten to call the president of the hospital if there's something they don't like (the food, the resident, the fact that they have to get fingersticks to check their blood sugar). I'm also talking about patients who call out on the call bell and say things like "Goddammit, you idiot, I need you in here RIGHT NOW to adjust my bed!!" (verbatim quote.)

10. And finally, be nice to the support staff. The woman who cleans your room is not (verbatim) "that cute little nigger." The people who transport you from place to place don't lack brains or ears. The person who brings your tray, sets it up for you, and helps you get started on your meal deserves at least a "thank you" for her trouble.

The sad thing is that none of the people referenced above were demented. None of 'em had troubles that would have affected their thought processes. They were just *like* that.

There are dozens of people, of course, who are genuinely sweet and pleasant; the sort of folks that you grow to love in the week that they're with you. Unfortunately for everybody, the assholes of the world are louder and more persistent.

Oh, well. The meek might not inherit the earth, but as long as they're not on a restricted diet, they'll inherit whatever treats and tidbits the nursing staff brings them to tempt their appetites.

4 comments:

Tiberia said...

I apologize, Nurse Jo, for the obnoxious Yankees - those sorts are just as bad on their home turf, but not all of us are like that :(

Katie said...

I think I am going to print this list off and put it up at the hospital where I am doing my clinicals!!
Katie

Anonymous said...

Before you post this, please take out the "N" word. it is very offensive.
KC Nurse

Jo said...

KC, I left it *because* it is offensive. I've heard that word from more patients than I care to count, along with others that made my head spin and my eyes bug out.

It's an interesting lesson for me. Because I look white, bigots think that they can say anything to me and I won't take offense.

The opposite's always a surprise to them. If they use a perjorative term, I tell the person not to use that language around me, and that I find it distasteful. If they continue, I tell them that they'll have to have another nurse.

It's a constant surprise to me that some folks think they can say anything, either to another person they assume will agree with them, or in a situation--like the hospital--where normal social barriers come down.