Grateful for grateful patients....Tears and Thank yous.

  1. 27
    It's been an interesting couple of weeks in the old ER, rotten shifts and yet strangely awash with genuinely sick and unnervingly pleasant patients. I've had a tear in my eye more than once because a few words of kindness from patients have been thrown my way... Maybe I'm going soft in my old age. Tell me some of your stories, here are a few of mine.

    I had an altercation with an ICU registrar during an emergency I responded to on one of the wards and was feeling decidedly unappreciated. Back in ER, I took over workup of a nursing home pt. in resus with some sort of compromised sepsis. I assumed he was demented /non-verbal or delirious and he had been doubly incontinent. I catheterised & collected bloods and then gave him a quick bath while chatting away to him about utter rubbish. As I was leaning across to finish buttoning his gown he whispers "You're very kind". 3 words, instant tears. Annoying really, I just wanted to be angry all day.

    Unloaded patient into resus looking very ordinary - collapse / abdo pain / diarrhoea, bedside USS=Ruptured AAA. I just kept the morphine coming and called his son. Vascular surgeon blusters in after CT (without even introducing himself) saying "Okay, we need you to sign a consent form....." At this point, no one has even told the patient officially what is going on. "Um, doc, the patient isn't sure he wants go forward with the operation so you need to explain what's going on and discuss it with him". I am saying "best of luck" after getting him onto the operating table and he puts his hand on my cheek and says "what is your name?" then kisses my hand and says thankyou. Sigh.

    Triaging a lady miscarrying at 13 weeks, starts sobbing at the desk so I stop asking questions and take her to a bay in acute. She keeps apologising to me for being upset- "I'm sorry but this is the 2nd time this has happened and....." so I go in for the hug, then I start to well up. We chat for a little while, I head back out to triage and a few hours afterward a man comes to the desk asking for me. He has come to say thankyou to me for looking after his wife and being so nice, that she was sorry she didn't get a chance to say so herself. What can you say to that?.

    Lady patient unloaded in acute with chest pain. Her husband is grinning at me and says "You don't remember me do you?". "Well, your face is familiar". "You looked after me 4 years ago when I was having a massive heart attack". "Oh jeez...Was I nice?". "You were amazing F__N (remembered my name), everyone who works here is". Love it.

    That's what I love about nursing, I sleep well at night because of patients like these.

    Last edit by brian on Jun 12, '13 : Reason: added image
    07302003, Irish_Mist, lpnpgh123, and 24 others like this.

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  2. 17 Comments...

  3. 6
    Thanks for sharing.

    I recently took care of an older gentleman with a traumatic injury that was, even to our experienced eyes, horrible to look at. The surgical/rehab course would be long and difficult, with an uncertain outcome even for a man half his age. Not only did he not complain, but he seemed to take it in stride, expressed absolutely no bitterness, worry or fear, and spent most of our conversation asking me about myself -- how late did I have to work, did I have a far drive home, etc.

    It definitely put a different frame on a day otherwise filled with the neediness of the not-very-sick.
    brandy1017, poppycat, hi616, and 3 others like this.
  4. 1
    You have written very eloquently how I want to make a difference as a nurse. Thank you!
    NO50FRANNY likes this.
  5. 1
    Thank you.
    NO50FRANNY likes this.
  6. 4
    Yeah, the kisses on the hand got to me every time. The last one was at a huge camporee where we had an old fella wander into our med tent about 0800 with chest pain. He said he'd been having it for awhile but wanted to wait until we had a chance to have our breakfast before he bothered us. We fell to, got him oxygen and ready to transport, and as he's rolling out he's offering us special patches from his council and all. I have no idea what happened to him but he kissed my hand.
    brandy1017, NO50FRANNY, poppycat, and 1 other like this.
  7. 6
    I posted on an NICU support page on Facebook one night, and several days later, I get the following: "Bortaz! You probably don't remember us, but we definitely remember you! You took care of our baby in the NICU and I have always wanted to tell you how grateful we are for the excellent care and love you gave to our sick daughter! You will always have a place in our hearts and in our lives! You're an angel on earth!"

    Fact is, I DID remember them (one of my favorite babies/families) and have seen the sweet baby several times since, at church.

    And you're right...it makes it all worth it.
    brandy1017, GrnTea, NO50FRANNY, and 3 others like this.
  8. 0
    Love you post, thanks for sharing this. It does make a nurse's day when a patient will sincerely say thank you for helping and caring for them.
  9. 2
    Oh gosh. I can't tell you how fortunate your patients are. Kind nurses make the all difference in the throes of pain and discomfort.

    I remember I was going in for surgery once, I felt exposed, isolated and totally upset. I was crying as they were administering the IV, a nurse just came up to me and held my hand. It was like she was empathizing what I was going through and she was supporting me. I felt less alone. I started to relax (or it could have been the meds) and she was there when I woke up.

    On the other hand, in post-op for a d/c I remember a very unkind nurse. She was slapping my hand to get the blood flowing to start an IV, and it wasn't in a funny or joking manner. It was more like nurse ratchet. When I was waking up from the IV I felt nauseous, not overwhelmingly nauseous just a bit anxious and upset at what I went through. This nurse literally tossed me one of those cardboard barf receptacles. I felt humiliated. The choice of some anti-emetics, ginger ale, a cool cloth, or even just a couple kind words to help distract me from what I was going through would have made a world of difference.

    So to the kind and conscientious nurses, thank you.
    NO50FRANNY and GrnTea like this.
  10. 3
    Those grateful pts do make a lot of the unpleasantness go away. And they briefly roll back my cynicism.
    Altra, linzjane88, and baptistbsn like this.
  11. 0
    As a nursing student, I had a patient thank me "for all you did for me today" when I went in to say goodbye at the end of my shift. All I had done was help her to/from the toilet, change her gown, give her a basin to wash up, change her linens, bring her ice water, etc. -- just basic stuff that any human being could do, not even anything requiring any specialized nursing training.

    But when you're in a position of needing help, even the most basic things are vitally important to you at that time.

    I hope that as I become a seasoned nurse, I am able to stave off the cynicism that comes from dealing with the entitled, so that I can retain the kindness to serve the needy.


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