I thought I would share a couple patient stories with you that have happened over the past week that have been poignant for me in some way.
When I returned to work after having a long weekend Tuesday, Mr. W. was gone :( I was sad. At the same time, I'm glad because it was hard on Mrs. W. to come to the hospital all the time. She can probably rest a little easier knowing her husband is being better taken care of adequately in a rehab facility.
I was collecting dinner from an older gentleman last night who I could see wasn't quite lucid (he was having conversations with himself; I'm not sure what tipped me off). I went to take away his tea cup and he damn near bit my hand off. Boy I had to move fast. I said in a calming voice, "Okay, you can keep your cup" and took the rest of his tray. When I dropped off his H.S nourishment, I said, "Can I take your cup now?" ever so cautiously. From a distance. I could :)
I came across a new patient this week (or was it last?). I first came across him in The Unit (what we call ICU) when I worked on a different floor, but he's since come down to mine. Super nice; a nice old Italian fellow (in case I haven't mentioned, my community is almost half Italian which is why I'm starting to take up Italian). Anyways... he's on my floor and his daughter was visiting him and they're super nice people. We got to chatting. Funny thing seems to be about this old Italian man.. he wouldn't stop talking! lol. But near the end I got sage advice. "First!" he says holding up his index finger, "Respect". "Second, take care of yourself" (if I understood his context correctly, he meant health wise because, obviously, he isn't doing well (having 3 attacks). Not in a 'selfish' sort of context). I smile and relay 'Yes, I agree' and 'thank you' in Italian and carry on with my job.
Said goodbye to one of my other regular patients last night. We got to talking and she'd been in the hospital for 8 weeks. She's being transferred to a rehab facility out of the city (you go where the government sends you where there's room, which is unfortunate because her daughter won't be able to visit her as much now). Incidentally, she's also Italian and we just started speaking Italian a little towards the end (you'd think I'd be proficient at this point, but I'm not, at all). So we said our goodbyes.
To be honest, I know I get disappointed when patients leave without being able to say goodbye, but I think it's easier. Saying goodbye is more difficult and more sad.
I'll end on a positive note. I was dropping off a dinner tray to another one of my older patients who was sitting up in her chair, which was a nice surprise since she's usually in bed. Even had her house dress on. I dropped off dinner, opened a couple things for her and left. I dropped off the tray to the other lady in the room, went to go back to my NC but turned around and came back and asked her if she'd like to me to cut up her meat. Her daughter wasn't there and I know she wouldn't have eaten it, not having the mobility to do it herself. She was so happy. "That's very nice of you," she says. I smile, continuing to cut up your meat. "You're a very kind woman, wanting to help someone out," she says. I smile (and never know what to say) and ask if there's anything else I can do for her (which involved pulling her sweater over her shoulders for her) and off I went.
So just remember... for every 'horror story' there is about mis-treatment in hospitals or nursing or retirement homes, remember there *are* people that care. I love my job.