The patient was in severe pain, thrashing about. I took notes, and after went back to the nurse and gave her a verbal patient history. She then said to me that she thought that he’d pulled a muscle. “You think so?” I asked. “I think so,” she said.
I returned to the patient and mother – I did not say what I’d written in my notes, which was that I thought he had appendicitis. This was because I did not want him to start fretting about something that might not be – surgery. Instead we talked for a long time.
Later, I looked over the ER doctor’s shoulder and next to the patient’s name saw the word appendicitis. This was the most interesting thing of all – the patient said that in terms of severity that the pain was a 9. But later, when he was talking to the surgeon, he said that the pain was a 4. He was then much more calm, relaxed, and more detailed when talking about his condition.
This was the only assessment that I did. My nurse supervisor went to admit and assess incoming patients, and so I was then on my own. I spent the rest of the day talking, talking, talking to over a dozen medical patients, in an attempt to get them to focus on something other than their pain. In this respect, the day was well spent. The doctors and nurses and phlebotomists and transport people and medical records people – they were all so busy – there was no time for them to do what I did, empathize and provide limited medical insights.
I wanted to do more for the woman with the year old child with cerebral palsy who’d had seven seizures that morning; for the woman all alone suffering from unexplainable chronic pain; for the feisty woman with chest pain who had been waiting four hours for a diagnosis and badly wanted a cup of coffee; for the fearful elderly couple who’d been brought in separately and were in need of social service input.
And at the end of my visits with all these patients, I wished them the best, and said I enjoyed talking with them. Was this enough? I will never know. My accounts, their accounts, they may differ – no matter, our paths crossed and we are all the better for it.
Next: 321. 11/20/19: Checking in on Tinni