Be Kind to Co-workers, Or Else
Early in my career, almost just out of school, I was working in CCU, directly across the hall from a woman who had been admitted following a stroke that had left her with some dementia.
To tell the truth, I don’t know if she had dementia prior to the stroke. Certainly after this stroke she had classic perseveration. Many of us have taken care of elders who focused on money when they developed dementia. Perhaps it goes back to being raised with little money when they were young. Regardless of the cause, this woman had become focused on money.
Over and over I heard her yelling. “I can’t find my money”. Relentlessly she yelled. “I can’t find my money. I can’t find my money.”
I was stuck, unable to get away from this sound. On and on she yelled. Nothing seemed to help. Staff were doing their best to quiet her down so she would stop disturbing other patients.
I tried to distract myself with my patients, but charting was a nightmare as she wormed her way into my brain. I tried to count apical pulses and heard the chant outside the door. It grated on my nerves after about two hours. I was being driven to distraction by this mantra. Staff placed her purse next to her. No help.
“I can’t find my money, I can’t find my money”.
Over and over this recitation played in her mind and now in mine.
When I left the unit to go to supper I mentioned how this woman’s yelling was so frustrating as I could not get away from it. Little did I know how much it was bothering others; as much as it bothered me. I gave suggestions; they had already tried all of them.
I whined about not being able to get away from the sound. I figured they could go to the nurses’ station up the hall, they could go to other patients rooms and assist them. They did not have to listen to it the same way I had to. I was feeling sorry for myself and letting the other staff know it. How I wish I hadn't.
I returned to the unit after supper and was just starting to do assessments on my patients when I heard a revision of the yelling. Now this poor patient was yelling a new chant.
“Lacey Tush is a wonderful nurse, Lacey Tush is a wonderful nurse, Lacey Tush is a wonderful nurse, but I still can’t find my money.”
Of course where ‘Lacey’ is you can change to my real name. Over and over again I heard my name expressed as a wonderful nurse, tied with her loss of money. Oh, how sorry I was that I complained about her perseveration. Now staff had given her something else to repeat. Echolalia at its finest!
Every time I teach these two terms I tell this story of ‘Lacey Tush’. She may not have been a very sympathetic or wonderful nurse to co-workers, but she knew the difference between perseveration and echolalia. My co-workers returned my lack of kindness towards them in a big way.
I am no longer a “Lacey Tush” as a result of their teaching me to stop whining.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 13, '15
Oct 17, '08I thought so too, at the time. Now I just laugh about it. Now I am much more empathetic to patients like this poor soul who was stuck in a terrible world of her own.Oct 20, '08A snort of laughter--the kind where whatever you're drinking ends up on the computer screen .Oct 21, '08Co-Workers in nursing can be the worse. You may find a friend and you may find an enemy. I really think stress of the job can bring out the beast in all of us.
But instead of fighting, we should ban together as a force and help one another. Don't we have enough strife, stress, outside forces that can make you want to leave the profession for good. If you have a co-worker who is undermining everything you do and just hates you, your life becomes really hard. Been there with the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.Oct 21, '08This experience helped make me a better co-worker. We all were able to laugh about it and made us a stronger team.
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