Sad for my neighbor, didn't know what to say!

  1. Hey everyone! I live in a duplex,next door to an elderly couple, they just moved in about 2 months ago, and we don't know them well, but we are friendly when we see each other and they know I am in nursing school. Anyway, the wife just came over to tell me her husband had a stroke last night at about 2:30am. She was extremely upset and told me that apparently it is pretty bad, he is on a ventilator right now. She told me he had a clot & they gave hime some medicine, so I explained to her what it was (you know, the clot busting meds). She asked me what I thought about the ventilator, how long should she leave him on if he doesn't improve! I didn't know what to say.......I told her that hopefully he will get better, but if not, she has a tough decision to make. I told her that I cannot tell her what to do, but to think about what her husband would want, and what she wants.....and to discuss with his doctor what kind of obstacles he is facing if he recovers, that's all the advice I could give her. What do you say in that kind of situation?? I have never been faced with that, but I'm sure it will eventually come up again in my nursing career. Just looking for some advice from you seasoned nurses. Thanks.

    Lil
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   CIRQL8
    You said it wonderfully. As nurses we cannot give "medical" advice, but you can lead them down the right road. You are correct in asking the doc about obstacles, and telling her to follow what he would want. We all know what a hot issue this type of thing is (or can become).


    Lend a sympothetic ear. That's all many people going through grief want.

    If she needs clarification (as w/ the clot busting drugs) what you don't know, you have the resourses to look up and tell her in layman's terms. That in and of itsself probably is a great assett for her.

    Thank you for being so kind.

    Good luck
  4. by   colleen10
    I'm sorry for your neighbor but also sorry for you to be put in that situation. I think it is nice that she felt she was able to "unload" everything on you.

    I think what you told her about thinking about what her husband would want and what she wants was very good advice. The only other thing I could think to add was speaking with a referal person at the hospital, ie. social services or a counselor or if she is religous to speak with her pastor.
  5. by   steel magnolia
    I think you gave perfect advice. Of course you can't tell her what to do, and not knowing them that well, you couldn't possibly guess what his wishes were. A good way to find out more is to ask, "What has the doctor told you about his condition?" Though it sounds like you did that. This way, you find out what the doc has told her, can reinforce that info, by explaining what a certain test is for example. It is a safe way to go when it is someone you don't know. Of course if she told you something preposterous, then you can gently suggest she ask for a neurology consult or another type of consult for a second opinion. Does she have any support from family? Children?

    I think you did a great job.
  6. by   orrnlori
    I think you did a great job too. Also, get used to being called upon by family, friends, and neighbors for medical advice. It will happen more and more. My neighbor recently had me over to look at her dog. Well, I'm not a vet and I can't really address dogs. As with most requested opinions, I always end by saying you need to speak with your physician, I don't diagnose.
  7. by   SchoolNurseLisa
    Sounds like you did great. I have been there. It is tough
    Quote from lilbiskit78
    Hey everyone! I live in a duplex,next door to an elderly couple, they just moved in about 2 months ago, and we don't know them well, but we are friendly when we see each other and they know I am in nursing school. Anyway, the wife just came over to tell me her husband had a stroke last night at about 2:30am. She was extremely upset and told me that apparently it is pretty bad, he is on a ventilator right now. She told me he had a clot & they gave hime some medicine, so I explained to her what it was (you know, the clot busting meds). She asked me what I thought about the ventilator, how long should she leave him on if he doesn't improve! I didn't know what to say.......I told her that hopefully he will get better, but if not, she has a tough decision to make. I told her that I cannot tell her what to do, but to think about what her husband would want, and what she wants.....and to discuss with his doctor what kind of obstacles he is facing if he recovers, that's all the advice I could give her. What do you say in that kind of situation?? I have never been faced with that, but I'm sure it will eventually come up again in my nursing career. Just looking for some advice from you seasoned nurses. Thanks.

    Lil
  8. by   jnette
    Yes, I agree, you did VERY well. Kudos to you.

    And I'm sorry to hear about your neighbor. These elderly folks can be such great neighbors...

    I hope he's able to recover and wish them well.
  9. by   ktwlpn
    Quote from lilbiskit78
    I didn't know what to say.......I told her that hopefully he will get better, but if not, she has a tough decision to make. I told her that I cannot tell her what to do, but to think about what her husband would want, and what she wants.....and to discuss with his doctor what kind of obstacles he is facing if he recovers, that's all the advice I could give her. What do you say in that kind of situation?? I have never been faced with that, but I'm sure it will eventually come up again in my nursing career. Just looking for some advice from you seasoned nurses. Thanks.
    Lil
    Lil-you are awesome.....you covered it all and gave her support and re-assurance...good job....
  10. by   nurseygrrl
    Great job! Family counselling is one of the most difficult areas of our profession. I bet she would appreciate it if you stopped by with some cookies and had tea with her.
  11. by   dansamy
    Very good job in the advice department. Now, you know she's worried & stressed so she's not taking the time to eat right. It's time to get cooking! Take something over to her, preferably something easily reheated. A one-dish casserole works great. If you can swing a disposable dish so she doesn't have to bother with washing & returning one of your good corningware/pyrex dishes, that would be even better. I know some folks might think I'm nuts for even suggesting this, but trust me. She's probably sitting at the hospital a lot & when she comes home, she's too depressed/stressed out to cook for herself.
  12. by   rollingstone
    You did fine. God Bless the poor woman. If I were in her shoes I'd be devastated.
  13. by   lilbiskit78
    Thank you everyone for all of your advice (and kudos!). Went to the store to pick her up a card, I know she is staying at the hospital for a while with her hubby, will probably cook or bake her up something when I see she is home. Thanks again!

    Lil
  14. by   Havin' A Party!
    Right on the money, Lil!

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