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Friday, July 29, 2011

lessons from my patients

Work is going great. I can't believe that next week will mark my 2 month anniversary of being (an employed) Pharmacist! I have learned a great deal already and have finally started to become more comfortable with caring for my patients. The first few weeks I was petrified of hurting someone or making the wrong decision. I took my time and asked alot of questions of the more seasoned Pharmacists on the team, and now I feel so much more confident about the decisions I make each day.

I can already tell that my favorite part of the job is having the chance to talk to my patients everyday! Everyone has a story, everyone has survived so much. They have so much wisdom and I truly love listening to them talk. Many of the patients we see are older than 70. Even more are older than 80.  I saw someone that was 94 years today, and she had more energy than me! I swear I had to chase after her down the hall....she was twisting her hips and moving wayyy faster than I was. Ha! I loved her spunk! I have found out fairly quickly that many of the patients love to discuss politics, religion, the economy, and the way things were way back when.

They also love to share their opinions. One patient swore that Kennedy was the best President we ever had. She remembers what she was eating when they announced on the radio that he had been shot. She also went on to say that President Clinton was the next best President but, (I quote) "that nasty bastard couldn't keep his zipper up". Ha! Well then, Mrs. Hazel...why don't you tell me how you really feel? LOL.

Then there are the lessons about the economy. I had a patient complaining about the national debt crisis and how wasteful our nation is. She declares that this is not an economic depression...she remembers the real depression....way back when she wore shoes that were made out of brown paper sacks. She declares those tough times were much worse than the national crisis we are in now. She said, clear as day, if we are really in a depression now then "there wouldn't be so many fat people running around. Being fat is a luxury! I was never lucky enough or rich enough to be fat!" Then she looked at me and said "Honey, you are skinnier than I was during the real depression. Did you bring your box lunch today?" Ha! I look back at her and stutter slightly as I reassure her..."Yes, Mrs. Esther, I bring my lunch everyday" At that point her husband, who has severe dementia....and hasn't said one word the entire appointment says (VERY loudly) "You've gotta great body for a nurse!" Mrs. Esther gives him the stink eye and hollers back, "Hush up, Hank!" I swear I saw a twinkle in his eye.

They teach me about patience and how to handle even like the grumpiest of patients. I saw Mrs. Ruth my first week there and she did not want me to touch her with the needle because I was "too new".  Mrs. Ruth may be one of the oldest patients we have. I understood why she didn't want me to "practice" on her...and respected her decision (but it did hurt my feelings). I saw her again this past week and was hesitant to try to see her again. This time she said "You're not that new anymore, are you?" I was relieved as I realized that she was going to let me see her this time. As soon as we got in the patient room, she looked at me and said in a questioning tone, "You much be old-fashioned?" I looked at her and wondered what she meant, and then she said "You've got a bobby-pin in your hair, I haven't seen one of those in over 40 years". I brought my finger up and realized yes, I had put a bobby pin in my hair that day in an attempt to tame the humidity attack....I laughed and told her that "If bobby pins make you old-fashioned than I guess I am!" She smiled and went on to say that her Mom used to wear bobby pins to pin down her curls, and she had the prettiest hair she had ever seen. I smiled and realized that this was Mrs. Ruth's way of letting me know that she accepted me. She went on to talk about her Mom, and didn't even flinch when I poked her finger.

It feels like a gift everytime one of the patients share stories about their past with me. They share happy stories and sad, painful ones too. I had a patient talk about her stillborn baby she had back in 1948. Obviously some things stay with you no matter how much time passes. The happy things stay with you too. Mr. Arthur told me his wife's birthday was next week, and I asked how they were celebrating. Then he told me she had passed away 12 years ago in her sleep. I was about to apologize and he said with a big grin, "I am going to celebrate in a big way and have her favorite cocktail and sit and look at pictures of the 63 years we had together". He looked so happy when he said it too. I almost cried when he left.

One especially spirited patient made me laugh today. I was taking her blood pressure and commented on how teeny her arm was (she was maybe 4-10 and 90lbs) and she said "Sweetie, I am like that Lady Gaga, I was born this way!" I am still laughing about that one. I can tell now, that even though I am finally out of the classroom, my patients will be teaching me lessons in a different way. It's a privilege to be there to learn from them.

1 comment:

Foursons said...

What an incredible job you have been blessed with. Some of my fondest memories of my MIL was when I was helping care for her while she was still living in her home with dementia. When she was lucid we would sit and talk and talk and talk. I too loved hearing all of her stories. So happy that you are loving your job.

Deciduous Heather