Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Clinicals, Week 1

Today was my first day on the hospital floor. My lab partner Cris and I were assigned a ninety-eight year old woman from a nursing home down south: one of the Katrina evacuees. (HIPAA forbids me talk about her particular condition, so I can't tell you why she was there or anything. Even though I doubt anyone would sue over it; it's nothing too unusual.)

As a new student I was not responsible for anything like medications or IV fluids; mostly we provided her with AM care. Feeding, bathing, linens, diapers, skin care and assessment.

After feeding my patient, I told her "You ate more than usual today. Good job." She didn't understand me, and her eyes got wide. "You think I'm gonna die?" she blubbered. "No! You're doing just fine!" I said.
Later I told her we were going to check her skin. "We're just going to look at you".
Her eyes widened again. "But I don't wanna go!"
"You're not going anywhere! I'm just going to look at your arm now."

She was confused by the evacuation, I think.

I felt a great deal of sympathy for this woman when I held her hand and spoon fed her processed meat and eggs. Her hands were smooth like my mother's... smooth like my grandmother's were before she died. Its true that old people can be burdensome. Its true that some lack cognition. But underneath that I constantly see these very fragile beings, full of fear and confusion. Just wanting someone to take some time with them.

I wish there was more I could do to comfort her.

Oh, for the record, I did change a diaper today. I thought it was going to be more traumatizing than it actually was. That summer working in the daycare has already acquainted me with poop of all forms, so this little old lady's output was nothing to frighten me.

Good thing I'm an optimist. :P

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