A Patient who Changed my Life
He Just Wanted Someone to Listen
We have all been there. You are in the middle of your morning medication pass, and it actually looks like you might actually get off work on time when it happens. You go in to give medicine to Mr. X. and bam, you end up behind. Why, you ask, when everything was going so well? The answer is simple, he needed to talk, and you took the time to listen.
I remember working at a hospital in Tucson, AZ that is no longer even open now. I was pulled to one of the medical-surgical floors and was assigned to the back half of the hall. The way this unit was designed, you barely even went that way unless you were going to a patient's room, so it was quiet back there. It was an uneventful shift, patients sleeping well, not too many PRN medication requests. I actually didn't have many morning medications to pass either, so getting off work on time was actually going to be a reality for a change.
Mr. X. was in for abdominal surgery and was actually a few days from going home. When I met him at the beginning of the shift, I noticed he was a very pleasant man. This morning, he was still pleasant, but seemed a bit unhappy. I asked him if he needed something, and he said "no". I don't remember what I said next, but it did open the floodgates so to speak. Mr. X. started to speak of times way back when he was in the Army during WWII. I sat there and listened to him recite stories, he probably hadn't recalled in years. Actually it was like listening to my dad talk of the same kind of stories. Our conversation went from his exploits in WWII to Korea, his grandchildren, his hopes and fears about being in the hospital. We spoke of his gratitude of how well his health had been up to this point, and how glad he was to still be married to his wife of 50+ years. I even asked what his secret of a long marriage was since they seemed so rare nowadays. Mr. X. answered that for him and his wife, it was good communication and never going to bed angry with each other. This too sounded like advice from my father. The next thing I knew, I realized that I'd been in this one room for almost an hour. Even though it put me behind schedule, I really didn't mind so much. I felt this particular patient needed someone to listen to him for awhile. My guess was that he hadn't had many visitors during this hospital visit and just needed to "unload" a bit of stress. Talking about everything and nothing in particular helped him do just that.
Sometimes we get so into what we need to do to get through the shift, preferably on time, we forget to just stop and listen for awhile. This was unusual that I actually had this kind of time, but like I said I really didn't have that many medications to pass. Also, no one else called needing anything either.
I'll never forget the smile on this man's face as I said goodbye at the end of the shift. He seemed happy that he got to share his stories with a "youngster" that I took the time to listen. This to me helped change the way I do things as a nurse. From that point on, I have always tried to notice when a patient just wants to talk. When they do, I listen since this is all they really want after all.Last edit by sirI on Sep 3, '08
About WildcatFanRN, BSN
WildcatFanRN has '4+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Cardiac-Telemetry'. From 'Wildcat Country'; 43 Years Old; Joined Nov '06; Posts: 1,062; Likes: 565.Sep 5, '08i miss replyin shortly. im so moved with the story.
it's true what they say... if there's one thing u cud have given or spare to a person it's time... coz u can't take it back( i mean the time spent) it shall be remembered by anyone though