Mabel came into our ICU following surgery for a broken hip and immediately announced, “I’m not going to make it through the night!”
Every fifteen minutes or so, all through the night, Mabel put on her call light to ask, “Am I dead yet?”
While I was trying to get my charting done, Mabel’s light came on one more time. I hollered out, “No, Mabel, you’re not dead yet!” Then I saw a visitor scurrying away, looking horrified.
Later in the evening, another patient passed away. As the funeral director pushed his gurney past Mabel’s room, I heard her yell, “In here! In here!”
After the deceased had been taken from the unit, Mabel’s light came on one more time. In a quivering voice she asked, “Does it hurt to be embalmed?”
Mrs. White came to the labor and delivery area one afternoon with possible ruptured membranes. She had visited us several times with the same complaint, so she was familiar with the terminology we used when we test for membrane rupture.
I prepared the equipment I needed for the three part assessment (pooling, Nitrazine, ferning). As I began my exam, she exclaimed, “I just know my water is broken this time. I can smell the ferns!”
In hospice, whenever we admit someone to the program we have to ask questions about advanced directives. When I asked one patient whether or not he wanted to be put on a respirator, he said, “No, I don’t want to be put on a machine if I’m a vegetarian.”
When I relayed this message to the attending physician, he agreed. “If I couldn’t eat a hamburger, I wouldn’t want to be on a machine either!”
Since we work as a team, we inform our colleagues of our whereabouts when we leave the unit. One coworker never leaves to go to the bathroom but instead always, “heads for the defecation station.”
Our Clinical Research Department had recently taken on an Alzheimer’s study that involved a lengthy consent process with both the patient and the caregiver. One couple was married for 52 years, but he kept insisting she wasn’t his wife. It was never clear who he thought she was. She reminded him about the details of their marriage. She pointed out that they were married in Paris. Finally, in exasperation, she said, “I am your wife. I tie your shoes and I put on your pants!”
He then asked, “Did you put my pants on in Paris?”
“No!” she responded. “You were too busy trying to get into mine!”