Lost in translation!

  1. Just thought I would open the thread to those that have had probelms with pts that speak other languages and the stories..their must be so many!

    Share your story!

    Just recently I had the sweetest little old lady (her 93 birthday infact that day!) who came in with pneumonia. She was confused, but pleasantly so, and just had that face an mannorism of the loving grandmother that would have such great life advice and love to share! I adored her...but she and I didn't stand a chance in communication!

    I called our translation service...you see, she spoke Russian...not a typical for us (but growing), and the translation service said..when I called..that they fired their Russian speaking translator and that they will not be servicing any language but Spanish (their fliers...say ANY language!!!!! False advertising and my hospital is going to get them..they just hired them on and they assured they could get any language no matter what! Yeah right!). So frankly..I was left with no way!

    I made up a picture board out of paper with my rather caveman artistic style of art. A toliet for potty, plate with food for eat, glass for drink, sad face for sad or pain..the whole thing (even a phone for call someone!). But with her dementia she understood for a moment..then didn't get it! But she remained so patient and sweet...sadly also OOB all the time walking naked!

    I called her daugher several times that night, and got translations for simple words that I wrote down for others too...basically the same as the pictures...also including 'stay in bed please'. Didn't work! UHGGGGGGG

    My body language and facial features did well..but not entirely. I found she spoke German...grrrrrrr I don't and no one else did...she didn't speak French which I know enough of to try to fundimentally make out...and she didn't speak Spanish which I am getting SOOOOOOOOO use to! We couldn't communicate via language (I could read her reaction with speach though..that was a plus..she was pleasantly confused, never go angry..and I could tell when she was telling a story and I would look very interested and nod with a smile and maybe a ohhhhhhh when qued..that helped!".

    Well..that night was LONG I tell ya, and she was sent home that AM...but it still makes me think..besides all the work I did put in, and listening to body language and watching the eyes and accent put on certain parts of pharases...what else could I have done??? UHGGGGGGG!

    It all turned out great though...I got a letter saying that the patient loved me and thought I was the sweetest person! Hey..cool~!!!

    How about you guys????????????????
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    Mine's a funny one. A lady came in with vag bleed and was Spanish-speaking only. My tech was learning Spanish but wasn't completely fluent yet. After the exam the doc, tech, and I went in to tell her that she was still pregnant but the sono showed a little placenta previa. We were trying to tell her the dangers of the placenta ripping but my tech had no idea how to say "placenta". I finally suggested he tell her "The thing that the baby is attached to inside you." He translated that, and the pt had the biggest grin as she said "AHH! Placenta!"

    The three of us just looked at each other and busted up laughing! All that time trying to figure out how to say it, and the word is the same in both languages.
  4. by   ElvishDNP
    This is my own gaffe...I was in a nursing school internship visiting migrant farmworker camps doing basic health education. So I get into a building where everybody is gathered & realize I've left my stethoscope in my car. It's raining cats & dogs and I have no umbrella. So I go running out to the car to get it and in the process get soaking wet. I come back looking like I've gone for a swim and one of the guys said something about me being wet. I tried to play it off & say it was como una ducha -- like taking a shower. Or so I thought. I wondered why he looked at me funny, so I got home & looked up ducha in my dictionary. That word means "shower" in South America but in Mexico it means "douche.":imbar
  5. by   clemmm78
    In Quebec, we have both English and French speaking patients, as well as other nationalities. I got pretty good with our Italian patients because there are many similar words in Italian and French. As well, I could understand Yiddish somewhat because of my Dutch. But the funniest is the "joyal" French, or the very slangy Quebec French.

    One evening, a patient's daughter was railing away at me in French about something. I was the only nurse on at that moment who could speak French so I had the privilege of dealing with her. She was angrily saying in French that her mother wanted a "pail." She was getting angrier and angrier at me for not understanding. There is no French word that I know of that sounds like "pail"! She was getting nasty, talking about stupid English people who couldn't understand and she demanded one more time for "un pail". She made a motion with her hands that made me realize she was asking for a *straw*. In French, that's "une paille." And "paille" is said almost like "pie" but with a slightly softer "eye" sound. There is no "L" in the way you say paille!!!

    Then, a few minutes later, she came asking for a "pissin". Now, a "piscine" in French is a swimming pool, pronounced "pissin". By now, it only took me a moment to figure out that she wanted a "basin" which is pronounced "bass-en". It's a bedpan. LOL
  6. by   oramar
    Quote from TriageRN_34
    Just thought I would open the thread to those that have had probelms with pts that speak other languages and the stories..their must be so many!

    Share your story!

    Just recently I had the sweetest little old lady (her 93 birthday infact that day!) who came in with pneumonia. She was confused, but pleasantly so, and just had that face an mannorism of the loving grandmother that would have such great life advice and love to share! I adored her...but she and I didn't stand a chance in communication!

    I called our translation service...you see, she spoke Russian...not a typical for us (but growing), and the translation service said..when I called..that they fired their Russian speaking translator and that they will not be servicing any language but Spanish (their fliers...say ANY language!!!!! False advertising and my hospital is going to get them..they just hired them on and they assured they could get any language no matter what! Yeah right!). So frankly..I was left with no way!

    I made up a picture board out of paper with my rather caveman artistic style of art. A toliet for potty, plate with food for eat, glass for drink, sad face for sad or pain..the whole thing (even a phone for call someone!). But with her dementia she understood for a moment..then didn't get it! But she remained so patient and sweet...sadly also OOB all the time walking naked!

    I called her daugher several times that night, and got translations for simple words that I wrote down for others too...basically the same as the pictures...also including 'stay in bed please'. Didn't work! UHGGGGGGG

    My body language and facial features did well..but not entirely. I found she spoke German...grrrrrrr I don't and no one else did...she didn't speak French which I know enough of to try to fundimentally make out...and she didn't speak Spanish which I am getting SOOOOOOOOO use to! We couldn't communicate via language (I could read her reaction with speach though..that was a plus..she was pleasantly confused, never go angry..and I could tell when she was telling a story and I would look very interested and nod with a smile and maybe a ohhhhhhh when qued..that helped!".

    Well..that night was LONG I tell ya, and she was sent home that AM...but it still makes me think..besides all the work I did put in, and listening to body language and watching the eyes and accent put on certain parts of pharases...what else could I have done??? UHGGGGGGG!

    It all turned out great though...I got a letter saying that the patient loved me and thought I was the sweetest person! Hey..cool~!!!

    How about you guys????????????????
    Very nice story, anyone that reads your post knows you lovely person and heck of a nurse. I have had patients like this, elderly confused and speaking no English. In every case a family member stayed with them every second day and night. God bless them and their families.
  7. by   Antikigirl
    OH these stories are great...keep them up! We can learn so much by them! Un Paile? I would have thought wet maybe...depends on how fast they spoke...but diss my own language...I would have responded in kind in ENGLISH..but thought something so much different in English and French! LOL!!!!!!!!

    Thank you dearest Oramar...hey...I could have just ingorned her..but...no way..not my nature..and she was just too cute! I mean..reminded me of all the grandmas in the world and darn it...I would give my left lung for a good grandma no matter where they are from! I had good grandmas! LOL!

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