Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not Just Patients


There are collections of Nurse's Prayers, all of them beautiful. But one of the lines I like goes Dear Lord, please give me courage as I approach each hurting bed...

Mr. Franklin had COPD, a bad case of Diabetes, and a host of cardiac issues. We had to use a hoyer lift on him for transfers. He was always in pain. But he never complained. He liked to talk about the time he was in the Philippines, as a young soldier. One day, his kidneys malfunctioned, and eventually, he died.

Ms. Butler used to be a Chemist. She went to college at a time when most women just stayed at home. She has skin cancer. She gets Ambien at night to help her sleep. Sometimes, she gets up around 3am, and we have cocoa together. She encourages me to learn how to swim and make strawberry pies.

Ms. P is a Jew. Her bones are so brittle, they all broke on their own. We handle her very gingerly. She used to love to read and was an articulate speaker. She doesn't talk anymore, her mind ravaged by Dementia. She blows me kisses as I dress her wounds.
Mr. Tommy wanted to go home for July 4th, and it was difficult to deliberate. He was dying any minute, completely dependent on Dobutamine and Dopamine drips, but he was adamant about sitting on his porch to watch the fireworks. I asked Dr. T, how far does he live? And thought that even if 911 got there in 10 minutes IF something happened to the drips, there would be nothing they could do. Ten minutes was too long. We held a family conference at the hallway. One relative was a nurse. Finally, if a bit reluctantly, the doctor said he could go. After several instructions to both the family and patient, I wished them all a happy 4th.
Mr. Johns has Parkinson's and calls a lot for the urinal. He was a popular writer, and used to mingle with President Bush. He says he coughs, and asks for cough syrup. I don't give him cough syrup. I suspect he has a swallowing problem, and reposition him. I encourage small sips, and later recommend a swallowing study.

Faces with names. All of them my patients. Each one touching my heart, every single one my professor in the university of life...

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In accordance with HIPAA laws, all names and conditions have been changed.

6 comments:

mond said...

a touching account of a profession and a person both so noble and significant...

cherie said...

very kind words from a doctor and friend who is dear to me...

betchai said...

" Lord, please give me courage as I approach each hurting bed..."
-- simple but it seems a prayer that says it all Che, and what you really need most.

"Each one touching my heart, every single one my professor in the university of life..."
=== very well said Che, like you, my students are my teachers too.

cherie said...

thank you,beth. i think people-oreinted jobs require a lot more courage than anything else. yup, they're the best professors - no degree needed.

anonymously yours love said...

ok ms. nightingale professor all in one, you're tagged!

cherie said...

you are the funniest, choi - thanks for the tag, my dear. much appreciated, but i'll take a raincheck for now, okay?

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