By Jack Handey Nurse Ginger: [AKA WWU. Let me set the stage a bit first.] (* DH says this post is hard to follow. I maintain any nurse or care-provider can follow along …)
- I have triggers (things that a patient can say or do that instantly rub me the wrong way). I recognize many of them (Hey, that’s the first step in the 12 step process – just ask Disney …). As a customer-service super-agent, I try to have an APPROPRIATE response for most of them.
- I’m an ER nurse … This means I’m superstitious and have an INNATE dislike/aversion/fear of the word “QUIET” … (gosh, I even hate typing that word.)
- If left alone with my thoughts for a minute or two, in the wee hours of the morning (when slap-happy meets punch-drunk, just before irritable and tired sink-in), I will fixate on any given patient interaction: Dissect the dialogue – my verbal and/or non-verbal response(s), consider the present lunar phase and how that may be playing a role, etc…
So, here’s the deep-thought part: When a patient says, “Is it QUIET tonight? It sure seems QUIET …” After controlling my inward cringe, resisting the urge to make the sign of the cross over my head, and stopping my lip from curling … I pause. What is the correct super-agent response to that question? Seriously, what does a patient expect to hear???
I let all the voices in my head cut-loose and speak-up for a few seconds … to ‘try on’ the different replies:
- “Hmm, I haven’t really had a chance to sit down yet – but I have penciled in ‘PEEING’ in the next 30 minutes … “
- “Totally. My fellow nurses and I were just about to paint each others toe nails – but, now that you’re here … “
- “Oh sure – NOW! But you should have been here 20 minutes ago – when we amputated a patient’s limb. Wow, THAT was some fun …”
- “You bet. I was just about to start to inventory our stock. I have ‘enema products’ tonight – so THANK YOU for saving me …”
- “Not so much – but, I was thinking about scarfing down some food right before you got here … I (obviously) have plenty of back-up to burn, so – Thanks!”
I decide none of the above would go over well with this particular patient, who has no sense of humor that I can detect. So, I go with simple and honest … “No.” [… No inflection in my voice, no facial expression, no further discussion.] It didn’t really feel like it was THE ANSWER that the patient was looking for …
So – I’ve asked management for some ‘scripting’ help. In the meantime, I’m open to all suggestions [… No, honestly! Are we really just ‘making conversation’?!? In which case, a comment about the weather – or my weight – would probably be more appropriate … ???]. I’m curious what a patient expects, or even hopes to hear. But – you need to know, I am a tad sarcastic, and I don’t lie well … like, at all. So, if it’s a total bogus, sunshine statement – I’ll probably choke on it before I can get it out …