“Oh the people I’ve met..”

Please refer to my disclaimer before reading any of my Nurse Boo categorised posts

“Oh the people I’ve met, are the wonders of my world”

These are song lyrics from Adele’s Hometown Glory that come into my head so often when I’m at work or at home looking back on the day I have had.

One of the things I love most about what I do is the people I meet. The conversations I have, and the times I honestly laugh (and sometimes cry) with my patients. It’s my job to treat them with respect and dignity but I can honestly say that they truly reciprocate this towards me most of the time and it must be something in the ‘trustworthy’ persona that nurses have that makes people be so open and honest with me and tell me their stories.

These stories, these insights, these moments from these people truly are ‘The wonders of my world’

The people below are just a small selection from one day working an 8 hour bank shift as a Health Care Assistant who became ‘my wonders’ for the that single day…

An ex-midwife who had taken time out to look after her sick father and wanted to take not only her own observations but even her own MRSA swabs, which basically involves swabbing your nose and throat – the throat is not the easiest thing to do to yourself. She was incredibly hard to say no to and I couldn’t help but think her bossiness would be very uninvited by someone giving birth?

The alcoholic man who had developed epilepsy due to his chronic drinking as well as alcohol-related dementia, who had so many medical appointments to attend yet continued to drink and take his exhausted and strained looking sister along to all appointments to basically communicate for him and remember all the information the healthcare providers had given him. He was abrupt and distant and had a strange look in his eyes as if he wasn’t really there. It’s something I can’t quite explain but a vacant look I won’t forget.

The wheelchair bound lady who had been asked to provide a urine sample by a colleague, took 10 minutes to walk the 7 meters to the bathroom before I found her defeated by the tiny bottle she had been provided with, with no urine left to give me! I got her a wheelchair and as I pushed her back to the waiting area to give her a drink and wait for her to be able to provide another sample, she insistently reminded me not to lose her frame. It was clear the frame was her lifeline. She was a determined lady with an accent, in her 80’s and I can only imagine the stories she has locked away. I helped her provide a new sample and then got her an egg sandwich whilst she waited for the transport to pick her up. The driver wanted to make her walk to the car as the chair had to stay with us, I fetched my jumper and wheeled her to the car to bring the chair back. It took 5 minutes out of my day, but it was well worth it for the smile on her face and the way she gripped my hand with her warm but well wrinkled hand as she finally slid herself into the waiting car.

The environmental health officer who I talked about my old café with and who told me about some of the revolting things she had seen routinely visiting establishments just like the one I used to own.

The ex-athlete who I had to do a spirometry test on who couldn’t disguise the competitive nature that had become the foundation of her personality. “I need to do well” “How high is my score? Do other people get higher?” Let’s just reiterate that a spirometry measures lung function, specifically the amount and/or speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled, yes you want your lungs to give you a good reading, but it’s not a competition, and no one else is doing the test at the same time to compare too. We laughed at her competitive nature and I had to make light of the situation to actually get her to focus on completing the test in the correct way rather than being side-tracked with her own insecurities. We ended up having a interesting conversation about how many former athletics struggle with mental health and problems with addiction which comes from their competitive nature, the need for adrenalin and the desire to be the best.

The 86 year old former nurse who stated whilst I was doing her ECG (An Electrocardiogram, that records the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart) that I “must have had to have trained for an awfully long time to become a radiographer” which made me want to burst into the laughter but I just had to politely say “no, not really” and just pretend I was really modest. (Any student nurse reading this, who works as a Healthcare Assistant will understand why this is so funny) As ECG’s are mostly performed by Healthcare Assistants and require no real training at all and operating this machine does not make you even close to being anything even remotely like a radiographer!

The man in his 70s who seemed so awkward and uneasy during his time with me that I continued to try and make light hearted conversation with throughout to put him at ease but struggled to get much out of him. At the end of our time, as he was putting his coat back on I said “Are you up to anything nice this afternoon?” – his response – “I’m going to the shops……to buy a lightbulb……. which is marginally more interesting than coming here?” I failed to really have a response, other than a slightly awkward smile.

And the Grandfather who spoke fondly of his grandchildren but was very vocal, like many are these days, about how our world is no dominated by ‘screens’ and how his grandchildren are always on their phones, or screens and how very different the world is to how it was when he was growing up. He told me a beautiful love story about how he and his high school sweetheart who lived on the same street used torches through their windows at night using Morse code to communicate with each other and how wonderfully special that was.

Little stories, little moments, little insights into a little collection of people who walk the hospital floors every day, but to me they are one of the biggest and most valuable parts of my nursing journey and expand my mind and give me bigger insight into many different worlds.

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