that patients say!
Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate. I realize I’m a bit behind my typical posting schedule, but am blessed with this rainy day to catch up. Seems appropo, too, as I am feeling a tad under the weather. (Go figure: Younger Son, who at times appears to have inspired the refrain lyric to Magic’s hit song RUDE apologized–sincerely–for infecting me with his cold.)
Give credit where credit is due: Thanks to author, fellow blogger and online friend Carrie Rubin for inspiring today’s post. 🙂 Her next-to-last write-up cited some real-life, colorful moments from her alter-ego’s medical moments. She got me thinking about a few of mine.
Y’all know I’m an occupational therapist by day. These days, I work strictly with elementary-aged children in a school setting. Some of the situations I’ve come across—and a lot of what the kids say—could double up as fodder for post after post. I’ll spare you though, and stick to two short interchanges from my days back when I worked with the adult crowd in an inpatient rehab setting. (I’m sure my back has no problem with it, but sometimes I miss my grown ups.)
One of my first patients was a very quiet gentleman I’ll refer to as George. (Not his real name.) George’s leg had been amputated below the knee. He was also visually impaired, most likely from the long-term effects of diabetes.
I’m not sure if it was his nature or his situation that kept our verbal exchanges very simple. He usually appeared reserved, somber and/or sad, so I’d try to bring a little humor into our half-hour. No matter what I said, though, George’s responses were typically single word utterances.
One afternoon, George and I were doing our PM session exercises and/or activities. True to form, he answered my chatter with his uni-word responses. “Yep” and “Nope” made up most of the conversation at his end.
“You know, George, that’s some vocabulary you have there.”
Bet he was wishing I’d zip it or subject some other poor soul to my yap. Serious as all get-out he strung together this—probably his first full sentence since his admission.“I don’t waste words.”
Now there was an answer. “I guess not,” was my best rejoinder.
The session continued—even more quietly than before—and I started thinking about what George said. I went from giggling at how seriously he said it to outright laughing, harder and harder the more his words played in my head.
He asked me what was so funny, and even seemed a bit miffed. I must have said something back, because he wound up laughing too.
That moment changed the dynamic of all our subsequent sessions. I’d cover his eyes whenever the transporters brought him. He’d say my name every time, always with a smile and a laugh. That carried over even when they brought him to our prosthetic clinic as an outpatient.
The most off-beat comment/compliment I received on duty came from a British man in his late 60s or early 70s. He had sustained a stroke that impacted the left side of his body. (Note: As a form of head trauma a stroke can often leave the patient with lessened inhibitions. Something tells me this man might have been a touch disinhibited all along.)
Anyway, this lovely gentleman and I were doing the therapy thing in the rehab gym. Propped against a wall nearby was a woman’s full above-the-knee prosthetic leg—not to be confused with the temporary pylon amputees use when they’re first learning to walk.
Having been blessed with legs that serve function far more than aesthetics, I commented on how shapely the female prosthetic was.
Without a second’s hesitation, my patient answered in his charming accent. “I’m sure your leg is far more lovely, especially with a high heel on it.”
Aside: I suppose this particular man’s charms were far reaching. I learned the lady for whom the leg was made wound up in a romantic alliance with my patient. So how is that for a happy ending?
Your turn! Please take a moment and share a workplace story or two of yours—or any other memorable moment that still makes you smile.
Stay tuned. Next week I’ll share about the absolute worst—and only time—I lost my cool and decorum with a patient. (Good thing the only person within earshot was a coworker and good friend.)
As always, thank you for your time, likes and comments—always greatly appreciated!
Have a great week,