In a very demanding job like nursing, nurse tech, etc. it is rather easy to focus a little too much on your own issues instead of the little ways you could brighten your patients’ day.
Being stuck in a hospital stinks. It’s not your home, some stranger is in the bed next to you, people you’ve never seen before are poking you, waking you up at ungodly hours, seeing you naked, asking if you BM’d lately.
Now add the fact you had massive stroke, are not able to move, and can barely talk. This means some strange person you’ve never met is now moving your body for you, changing you, cleaning you.
Oh and did I mention C. diff? For those who don’t know what Clostridium difficile is… the very quick explanation is: it is an overpopulation of bacteria that causes horrible diarrhea. This can happen when you take too much or too many antibacterial medications for too long. They wipe your gut of the normal (good) bacteria which gives C. diff (another normal bacteria in your gut) to proliferate to an abnormal amount. The result is diarrhea. A lot of it.
This was my patient. This was a lot of my patients. I walked in on him mumbling “oooh terrible, just… boom…. I feel… I’m so so so [sorry].” There was diarrhea everywhere. It spilled out of his diaper onto his back, down his legs, and over the sides of the bed. Cleaning a motionless man and replacing the sheets with him still on it is no small feat.
You could tell he was ashamed. While cleaning up the mess, something told me to start whistling. So I did. I’ve seen what despair can do to a person’s well being and healing process. When I began whistling a tune, his entire demeanor changed. Instead of embarrassment there was relief. “Oh you! This… and you just… oh you you you” he stuttered with the biggest smile he was able to give.
From then on, he’d always ask where I was. As he progressed, he told me of how much that little moment meant to him.
Whether you’re a medic, physician, receptionist, or volunteer be mindful of the beauty such simple acts can bring. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Your patient already is.