View Full Version : Favorite Patient

07-09-2007, 06:36 PM
Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Little Things
Nursing Voices has a thread in it about favorite patients. I don't have a favorite patient; but there are many patients that have had a huge impact on my life.

Just out of nursing school, I took a job at a large metropolitan teaching hospital. Each building/floor/division had it's own specialties. The floor I worked on had all the patients with Cystic Fibrosis, Hemophilia, and AIDS. AIDS was a "relatively" new disease with a huge negative stigma attached to it. We did primary nursing. For all of you young nurses, primary nursing was a concept that each patient would receive a primary nurse that took care of them with each and every admission. The patient would also receive a secondary nurse that would take care of them if the primary nurse was on the off shift or on vacation, etc. I liked the concept. It gave me the opportunity to get to KNOW the patient and the families. It gave me the ability to give them things that I knew they liked when they became too weak to ask for it themselves.

During my first few weeks after orientation, I received a tall, thin man as a primary patient. His diagnosis was AIDS. His first admission was for PCP. This man was a quiet man, very reserved but had a wonderful smile and when he wanted a very quick wit. He was respectful and polite and I enjoyed taking care of him. He had several admissions to the hospital over the following 6 to 8 months and each and every time I got to know him better and better. But.........he had a terrible quirk! He liked to sleep on his stomach with the head of his bed raised 30 to 45 degrees, his arms down at his sides. He looked uncomfortable and I didn't like it. I told him several times that he wasn't comfortable in that position but he held his ground and wouldn't budge. His smile removed the urge from me to force him to be what "I" felt would be more comfortable.

With each admission, I saw his deterioration. With each admission he came alone; no family, no friends. His significant other had died the previous year. Way back then, AIDS was a death sentence without a very long time on death row.

I remember clearly his last admission. He looked frail, more frail than I had ever seen him. Every movement was an effort for him. He never complained but you could just feel his spirit leaving him. He had the same smile, the same attitude, the same wit, but each of those things lagged behind his usual pattern just a little. Every two hours I turned and positioned him from one side to the other. Each time I turned him, I felt that something was wrong. He just didn't look right and I couldn't put my finger on it. Each time I turned him, his eyes would flutter open and then close. It was just before my shift ended that I realized what was wrong. I grabbed another nurse and I positioned him on his stomach and raised the head of his bed 30 degrees. He lifted his head just a little from the pillow and gave me one of his "old" smiles. I told him that my shift was over and I'd see him that night.

On my way home from work I couldn't get him out of my head. It irritated me that it took me so long to realize what he wanted.

When I returned to work that night I was told he had died about an hour after I had left that morning. They told me he died peacefully. I cried.

To this day, I can still vividly recall his face. I also remember the silent message he left me. "Don't forget the small things because those are the biggest things you can do."

Posted by MY OWN WOMAN at 9:21 AM 4 comments

07-13-2007, 08:12 AM
This is a great story - thanks for sharing it here on the forum!!! : )