I had the privilege of sitting with my mother in law in her last hours and moments last week, and during the two days I sat with her in the hospital ward, I had ample opportunity to witness the daft things the staff have to put up with. I also had the dubious honour of witnessing the daftest argument I have ever heard.
It was between a patient’s daughter and a nurse and it went something like this:
Daughter: “My Mum’s got chest pain; you’d best give her something”
Nurse: “Your Mum has angina. I’ll go and get the GTN spray”
Daughter: “Don’t give her that. The spray she has begins with a ‘T’. She has it at home”.
Nurse: “Do you mean GTN spray? It’s the standard treatment for an angina attack”.
Daughter: “Noooo (just about stopping herself adding the “durr”). It begins. With. A T.”
Nurse: “I assure you, it will be glyceryl trinitrate. GTN. It’s fairly standard.”
Daughter: “Yes that’s the stuff! I told you it began with a T!!”
Now. I don’t know about you, but there are several things in this little argument that really bugged me. First of all, the daughter’s aggression to the nurse who was simply trying to do her job. Second, her insistence that she knew better than a nurse what the treatment for angina was. Third, the fact that even when the nurse spelled it out (literally!) to her she still didn’t accept it. Or fourth, the complete lack of apology when it was obvious she had got it wrong.
This woman was being a complete nuisance on the ward, demanding the attention of every single medical-looking person who came in and talking CONSTANTLY. If she wasn’t arguing with the nurses she was berating someone on the phone for interrupting her “while I’m in hospickull wiv me mam”. If she wasn’t bellowing into her phone she kept up a constant litany of “comfort” for her mother, who went to sleep just to shut her up.
In fact it was in one of the mother’s sleeping episodes that the daughter decided to argue with another nurse. She objected that the nurse had the temerity to bring her mother some pain relief for the pains in her chest (the GTN had only limited affect) just at the moment her mother had hopped up onto the bed and nodded off.
Her point – put in her own delicate way – was that her mother had not had any sleep for more than a week and the nurse had disturbed her JUST to bring painkillers. Why couldn’t she have done that when her mother was awake?? (All of this was put across in the tone and language that was erm, basic, to say the least).
I happened to look up as the nurse took the medicine trolley away and I heard her parting shot: “Well, she can’t be in that much pain if she can sleep through it can she?”. In the nurse’s defence, she had been at the butt of this daughter’s moaning and complaining for the past two or three hours and she had been called away from her observation checks on the rest of the patients to “bring ‘er summat NOW!”, and in the 2 minutes it took her to leave the bedside of one patient, retrieve the medicine trolley, and bring it up the ward, the mother had got herself from the chair to the bed and had miraculously fallen deeply asleep and couldn’t be disturbed. Well, not if the rottweiler of a bodyguard could help it!
Why do people put the medical staff through things like that? Can they not see that they are run off their feet already, without pandering to the demands of petty patients who could wait their turn quite easily. Can they not see that there is a ward full of other patients who are also in pain, or distressed, or worried about what they are going through? Can they not see that tucked in the corner in bed 23 there is a 74 year old woman who is breathing her last breaths? Or that in bed 18 there is an elderly lady who is terrified of them not letting her go home because her husband can’t cope without her for much longer? Or that in bed 25 there is a young woman who is weeping because her brother could only stay for a few minutes with her son and she has to have an operation that afternoon, and she is worried she won’t see either of them again?
And why argue??! Grrr…..it annoys me that they think they know better than the university educated and time-served nurses and doctors, consultants and surgeons who are treating them the best way they can.