I was taking down a patient from the Rehabilitation Unit down for an Interventional Radiology procedure. The nurse wasn’t quite ready for the patient when I brought him down to the holding area, so she asked me to stay with him. I asked him about his life, how many kids he had, what they do, where was he from…basically, I asked him questions to get to know him. A lot of the time in the hospital, it is all about the reasons why a person is even in the hospital. What is your diagnosis? What needs to be done before discharge? What is your pain level? Where is your pain at?
Whenever I do have down time, I enjoy getting to know patients and their life stories and lessons. Usually, when you ask patients about their conditions, some of them have no idea how to explain it. They can’t explain the procedure they are having, but they know how they are feeling. They might be able to tell you symptoms, but not a medically defined diagnosis of themselves.
This lovely man was from Forks, WA. He was so proud because he knew I would know it since it is in the Twilight movie. He explained to me that it was a small town where everyone knew everyone. He had six boys and one girl, but told me that the girl was in charge of all of them because she was the oldest. One of his sons was in the Air Force ever since he was 16 years old. I told him how lucky he was to have such a big family and a lot of people to look after him. When he talked, he would take short pauses for breathes after each word. Talking took a lot of effort and caused him to cough every now and then. One time, he kept being interrupted by his cough and he was frustrated and clenched his fists. I assured him that I was patient and told him to take some deep breathes before continuing.
Patience is key and patience shows a lot to patients. He asked me if I was in school and I told him I was going to be a nurse. His eyes widened and was so happy for me. “Nurses are the best!” I’ve learned that being a nurse takes a lot for a person to be. Going home, you take your patients’ stories with you. You learn about them and at the same time, you learn more about yourself when meeting a new person. Patients teach me a lot of things and I’ve learned that it has helped me so much getting to know the person that I am.