Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sour Exteriors

Wow, did I really leave that previous whiney post at the top of the blog for a whole month? I guess I've been busier than I thought. Time really does fly.

Story #1
One of my patients today had his wife in the room with him. She is a retired nurse. Ahh! The woman was Old School. Yesterday, she wanted her nurse to come in and rub lotion on her husband's body RIGHT THEN. Now, while I believe skincare is important, I can understand why the staff kinda bumped that intervention to the bottom of the list. It's a busy floor with lots of heart patients. They were trying to get a whole bunch of new people settled into their rooms and started on their various IV meds. When they told the woman she would have to wait a while before a nurse could come rub him down with topical ointments, she became a wee bit hostile. When I picked him up as one of my patients today, all the staff said "Just be READY. The woman is relentless."

Of course, my day with this patient unfolded much differently than the staff predicted. I spent a while in the room talking with the pair of them. Apparently the nurse never showed up to give the skincare yesterday. They have been bandaging him with adhesives despite doctors orders not to. (And this guy has weird skin problems; if you put a bandaid him take it off again, it will remove a large chunk of his skin. Without the ointment he peels like an onion.) Their cardiac consult never showed up yesterday. All in all, they felt neglected.
I made sure to get the man bathed, treated his skin, and got him fresh linens. I talked with the woman about her heart problems, and how they made her too weak to care for her husband. She seemed relieved that SOMEONE was talking to her. And I didn't find her the least bit hostile this time around. Okay, so maybe she was a little bossy sometimes when it came to nursing things. But hey, I'm the student. I didn't mind.

Story #2
One of my groupmates doesn't get along with the rest.

I don't really understand why this is the case. At lunchtime we all sit together and chat, but she moves off to the side and stares straight ahead, not participating. When the group makes decisions she doesn't like (such as our move from two short hospital days to one long one), she makes her displeasure known in ways I find kindof... odd. I am trying to be delicate here; I honestly don't want to start typing bad things about her because she's been short with me a few times. I have heard several other students express a real dislike for her, and tend to believe they give accurate accounts of her behavior... but my goal isn't speak ill of her as much as it is to question why this situation exists in the first place.

It is obvious that she is a smart person. And when other people she knows walk through the hospital, she greets them with a warm smile and a hug. So she obviously has friends... how did we get on her bad side? When I ask her questions, her responses are terse and somewhat aloof. The group has ceased to try engaging her in conversation, because it really feels like she doesn't want to talk to us. Is this the truth of the matter? Does she exclude herself, or are we excluding her because we think that's what she wants?

I dislike judging people by the way they behave on the surface. It would be so easy just to write her off as arrogant and petty. Yet, in my experience, people who are cold on the outside are rarely coldhearted as well. Believing otherwise is dehumanizing. (Just look at this patient's wife I took care of in the first story: the whole floor was set against the woman. I only had to spend a little time with her to uncover the reason for her anger. Once solved, she was more than pleasant to talk to.)

I have faith that my groupmate is more than she appears to be, and that under that unfriendly surface she's as nice to talk to as anyone else. It's a kind of project for me. I am determined to get this girl to speak more than two words to me at a time. She doesn't have to be my friend, but it we be nice if she would work as my ally (God knows nurses need to help each other).

People are always telling me "Heather, you can't please everyone." And man, I know that is so true. However. I also like to add that "You may not be able to please everyone, but you can usually please a lot more people than you'd expect with just a tiny bit of extra effort."

Why do I continue to give that extra effort toward hostile people? I don't know, but I think of it as a Golden Rule type thing. Maybe the person is sour to the core. Maybe he or she will end up hating me for no reason. But then again, maybe they won't. I think it's worth it. At least I can always say I really tried.

1 Comments:

In many ways I like dealing with people labelled as 'awkward' by others. As you say to find the reason and to try and expose any niceness there. Had a similar experience of a patient who was identified to me as being rude - the very first thing I did for her was received with thanks - I think to think because of my attitude toward her. However she did not thank me later in the day, as I assisted with her enema.

By Anonymous ukstudentnurse, at Monday, March 20, 2006 at 9:43:00 AM PST  

Post a Comment

<< Home