Way too close....way too personal

  1. I had a pretty sick patient today and was in the room pretty much the entire shift. The patient and his wife were very nice but the wife just grated on my nerves ALL day.

    First of all, she popped her gum constantly and I cannot stand mouth noises; crunching ice, smacking, slurping....drives me nucking futs!!!
    Annnnddd.... she was all up in my personal space and I couldn't escape! I even had my visitor chairs on the other side of where I was working but she wanted to be on *my* side until I finally had to create a boundary with an IV pump, infuser, and Bair hugger machine cords.

    Secondly, she told me how to do my job all day long. Y'all know how much we LOVE that.

    Lastly, she kept asking me so many personal questions. It was so off-putting to me that I started making up stuff! I don't mind people making conversation about my badge reel or something like that but this woman was asking me so pretty personal questions I was just at all comfortable talking about. Asking me about my kids, my marriage, etc.
    And I had a high school student shadowing me for two hours this morning and she felt that it was her duty to educate him since she was a retired principal and everything. I couldn't teach this poor kid anything medical today because of her. I felt so bad for that kid.

    I've been a nurse a while and can usually deflect some of the more personal type questions pretty easily but this was just WAY too invasive and caught me way off guard. She even commented about my engagement ring and then asked what my husband did for a living "to afford that." How do y'all handle these types of people? I didn't want to be rude but it got to the point that I was dreading going in the room.

    I'm starting to think that I'm going to have to come up with an alter ego just for work! I felt so violated!!!
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Pixie.RN
    I would love to say something like, "I'm sorry, but I am not comfortable with answering very personal questions. I am here to focus on your husband, please allow me to do so." But then there goes patient satisfaction, right? Geez. I think I would have started making up answers too! "My husband is an investment banker, this ring was like chump change for us, I just work for fun these days," stuff like that. Haha. I am sorry, those kinds of family members are stressful. I typically suggest they go get things to eat, go home and get personal belongings for the patient, etc. - anything to get them out of the room and to "give them a break," haha. That high school kid got a lesson for sure - that nurses have to deal not only with sick patients, but also with the "with 'ems" - you know, there are the people that come in and the people that come with them.
  4. by   Munch
    I cant stand people that don't respect personal space. You just have to accept that some people are neurotic and the stress of having a loved one sick in the hospital is really going to set them off. I had a patient one time on the floor who's husband was not going to leave under any circumstance. He would sleep in the chair next to her bed and he would snore so loud I swear he was sawing logs. The patients roommate I felt so bad for her. She was a light sleeper and anytime she tried to go to sleep she would be awaken by this guy calling the cows to come home.

    This guys wife wasn't critical at all she was being discharged in a couple of days but he refused to leave her. Sometimes it is healthy to be away from your spouse for a night..the world really isn't going to crumble. I really don't mind when a patients loved one wants to stay but when they are effecting me or the other patient in the room they need to pay for a private room if being with them is that important the poor roomate..this girl was recovering from surgery too she needed some rest I really felt terrible for her. When this patient was discharged we both cheered.
  5. by   EmergencyNurse2012
    Keeper Mom,
    I feel your pain…Had one myself the other day. Up in my face, literally calling me to the room every 2 minutes to put mom on the bedpan, fluff her pillow, dress her wounds, on and on. I had a new CVA in my trauma room and a critically ill patient in my other room. I finally went to my charge nurse and offered to pay her to discharge "mom" home for me. She looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, "why does this feel like a set up"? I told her if I went back in that room, I'd probably lose my job as I was going to tell the guy that his expectations were ridiculous and that I wouldn't be coming back in any time soon. This was after I had repeatedly responded to the room and in between requested he not wait in the hallway or at the nurses station for me……Our team is usually very good with running interference with families like this-but the team was overwhelmed with multiple critically ill patients all at the same time, so, I was on my own. Oh, mom and the critically ill patient were tag teaming code browns so much so team members getting supplies from the supply closet asked, "who in the world? Where is that coming from? What??" I just said, "that's my circus". Everyone in our department knows what that means.

    Anyway, I'm usually very good at diffusing difficult family dynamics and usually hold my own, but that particular family member was extra trying and I had a LOT going on in my other rooms (code stroke and full septic work up with cultures, lactic, fluid resuscitation, and antibiotics. I think we all have days/nights when we need backup from our team members.

    When I have un-welcomed, extra inquisitive questions from patients/patient family members about my private life, I redirect back to the care of the patient and treatment plan of care. If that doesn't work, I usually, laughingly, say something like, "How about we focus on getting you better and back to your life"? That usually conveys that I'm not willing to give out personal details. If they persist, I can make an excuse to leave the room to gather supplies or equipment.

    As far as the engagement ring comment, I probably would have said something really snarky like, "I saw it, I liked it, I bought it for myself". That would have started a whole new conversation though...
  6. by   Kuriin
    I had a patient who came in with near-drowning (not really, she is just so fat that she had trouble swimming, but never went under) incident with her son. When I told the son after I placed the IV and drew the blood (the blood had hemolyzed pretty quickly), he got in my face when I told him lab had to draw her (the mother) blood. He then proceeds to ask me why I can't use the IV. I told him hospital policy dictates that we don't draw blood from IVs unless it's in the initial poke.

    I was seriously thinking this guy was going to punch me in the face when I was telling him facts. I swear some people...
  7. by   brownbook
    When someone asks me a personal question I say "Why on earth do you want to know that?" in a shocked tone of voice.
  8. by   jodispamodi
    My response has always been to tell them that I am in fact working and to concentrate on my tasks or I could make a mistake and kill someone, if they continue asking I ignore them, and as I'm leaving the room say I'd love to chat but I have another patient to take care of. When they cross my mental boundary of too personal I just make things up,lol.

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