I Gotta Learn to Speak the Language!

Ok everyone has one of those days when things just aren't going well. You know the one, where everything was routine yesterday is now like a foreign and no one really makes sense. Nurses General Nursing Article


  • Specializes in LTC, Med-Surg, ER.
I Gotta Learn to Speak the Language!

Very early in my nursing career, I had a patient with a known seizure disorder who was admitted for...a seizure. He was an elderly man with an elderly wife who had been taking care of this gentleman for years. She had his meds down in her own personal little memory bank and she knew what meds alleviated what ailments.

In my assessment, I communicated mainly with the wife. I asked the usual questions about pertinent history and his last seizure. I should state at this time that, although I was working in the South, I am not from South so there are some communication barriers for which I should have been prepared but, being young, gung-ho and ready to save lives and make a difference, I went right on with my usual line of questioning. Big mistake. If you were practicing nursing in France, you would learn to speak French. In the South, you learn to speak "suthun". I should have known better. I adored the charming accents of the people I was beginning to love and respect and, in general conversation, I had no trouble understanding. Add excitement, new situations and concern about a loved one's health and what could have been a cordial meeting between two women in Wal-Mart turned into one communication error after another!

"So, has Mr. O had these seizures for a long time?, I asked.

"Oh, yes.", she answered. "He's been having 'em for years. He takes them peanut butter balls and they help. Hadn't had one for years! I don't know why he had this'n".

"I am sorry.", I said deeply perplexed. "He takes peanut butter balls for seizures?"

"Oh yeah, for years!", she said confidently.

"And they work????", I asked, my mind turning this information over in my head. Is this something I learned in nursing school and forgot? What could it possibly be about peanut butter that worked this magic? I love peanut butter. Is this why I have lived a seizure-free life? Did I miss that day in school? Seems like a pleasant enough remedy, though. Maybe I should tuck this away in the old memory bank for future reference. I am all about holistic and alternative medicine if it works!

So I repeated, quickly, in my mind, "peanut butter balls, peanut butter balls..." What do other seizure patients take and why aren't they all taking peanut butter balls...seems so much healthier than a big dose of medicine and certainly tastier!!!

"Peanut butter balls", I said it a little faster in my mind. Then it hit me! "Do you mean phenobarbital?" I asked the little lady.

"That's what I said, sugar! Peanut butter balls. They have worked for years and they are pretty small so he can swallow them easy!"

Phenobarbital, peanut butter balls, what's the difference. I have never had a seizure myself, but just in case I do, I have some peanut butter balls in the freezer with strict instructions to my husband on how to administer them. Hey, meds aren't cheap and I am buying peanut butter already. And I don't have a prescription for phenobarbital! LOL!

LPN. Floor nurse med-surg. Specialty: LTC, Med-Surg, ER

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Liddle Noodnik

1 Article; 3,789 Posts

Specializes in Alzheimer's, Geriatrics, Chem. Dep..

"Oh , yes.", she answered. "He's been having 'em for years. He takes them peanut butter balls and they help. Hand't had one for years! I don't know why he had this'n".

ha ha ha! cute!


21 Posts

That was really funny... I can't stop laughing... I have tears in my eyes... bwhahahahahahahah :yeah:

It's incredible how many pts call phenobarb "peanut butter balls." I've had several pts do that.


9 Posts


That's really funny...Thanks a lot....

God bless!


48 Posts

Specializes in LTC.

I had a pt call sugar diabetis " sugar bata beetus" cracked me up


1 Post

haha...i've also heard someone said " pheno-barbie-doll " instead of phenobarbital....:chuckle

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