My patient was new, just arrived last night from the acute care hospital. He was on the young side for our population and clearly not used to being in a hospital. I went in with his medications and breakfast tray this morning and cheerfully introduced myself. He stared off into space, pretending not to hear me. I introduced myself again, said that I was here with his medications which he needed to take because therapy was coming in soon. He continued to look away. Slowly he turned to me and said "I didn't order those and I'm not taking them". I explained what each medication was for, and he replied that he didn't want any medication, that he was going home and he didn't belong here. There was frustration in his voice, a need to be heard.
I could have gotten frustrated and walked away, written "pt refused all medication" on the MAR. Something told me he needed me.
I sat down next to his bed and told him that I would stay with him for a few minutes, and if he wanted to talk, that I would be there. After less than a minute, he completely broke down in tears. A recent cancer diagnosis had left him battling embarrassing symptoms, and he was struggling because in the hospital setting, his needs were "exposed" to say the least. I sat with him and listened to his concerns and reassured him. Once I came to terms with the fact that he would get to call the shots today, things went much more smoothly. He agreed to take the medications. Therapy was able to get him out of bed and comfortable. And we worked together to ensure his stay was productive, for however long it is.
I truly felt like a nurse today. Many days I feel like a glorified waitress but today I felt like a nurse.