One Patient That Changed My Life

She was evil. The devil incarnate. Meaner than a rattlesnake. She had active MRSA, dementia, and was in for cellulitis. She threw four nurses, the Physical Therapist, the Occupational Therapist, and the daylight aide out of her room, and it was only 10:30.

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  • Specializes in Med Surg, Hospice. Has 4 years experience.
One Patient That Changed My Life

I was new to the floor and greener than the hunter scrubs I wore. I had been warned in a report that she was very uncooperative, and to expect being tossed from the room since everyone else had been on that particular day. I had to get her vitals, and I knocked on her door and entered after gowning, gloving and masking. I walked over to her and introduced myself, explained that I was going to be her Nursing Assistant that evening, and would it be all right if I took her vitals.

I was met with hostility, but she didn't throw me out. I got THE GLARE. I asked if something was wrong. No answer. I got her vitals. I asked if I could bring her something. No answer. I discarded my PPE and told her if she needed anything to ring her bell and I'd come back.

This went on for four days. I wouldn't give up. I was bound and determined to get her to talk to me, even if it was to get her to yell at me and throw me out of her room.

On the fifth day, I pulled a day shift. Since she was in isolation, I saved her bath for last. I entered her room with a complete bed change, towels, washcloths, soap, blankets, and a sunny disposition. I said good morning and asked if she was ready for her bath. She didn't say anything, but I noticed tears.

I pulled up a chair and sat down next to her bed and took her hand. She looked at me, eyes full of tears and told me she had to have her leg amputated. That's when it all came together. She wasn't mean, or evil. She was scared.

I sat with her for an hour, listening to her fears about how she wasn't sure she was going to be able to resume a normal life after the surgery, and how she didn't want to go to a nursing home.

The hot water got cold. She cried through a whole box of tissues. When she stopped crying, I stood up from my chair, walked over to her bed and hugged her. She started crying again. She finally broke away and told me she was ready for her bath.

I got more hot water, gave her a bath, and changed her bed. While I was bathing her, she asked me to turn on the Food Channel. I did, and we had a discussion about cooking. She loved to cook, and I told her I couldn't boil water. She laughed.... actually laughed when I told her about how I messed up my first batch of stuffed peppers.

She was discharged a week later, and when she was going down the hall, she had the transport person stop when she saw me in the hall.

She thanked me for taking such good care of her. I smiled and told her it was my pleasure to do so. Then she said to me "You never gave up on me, and I appreciate that." I bent down so I was at eye level to her and gave her a hug. I thanked her for not throwing me out of her room. She laughed and told me I have to watch the Food Channel more if I am ever going to learn how to cook. I was laughing as transportation whisked her away to resume her life.

After she left the wing, three nurses approached me and wanted to know how I was able to turn her around. I told them the answer was simple: I listened to her when she was ready to talk, and my thought was she was mean because she was scared. Once I got past that, it was smooth sailing.

This patient changed my life because, from her, I learned patience and tolerance. That is something I strive to give all of my patients.

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