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July 09, 2008

Be more gentle.

July 8. Day 8.


This will be short and not so sweet.

My grandmother ended up in the hospital today -- nothing serious, I hope, but she was having blurred vision and a racing heart rate. She had to get everything checked out.

Everyone was lovely, with the exception of one RN, who rudely grabbed my grandmother's tender arms when she tried to get the hospital gown on, pressed down on her IV where the connection was sensitive, pushed and pulled her to change her position rather than guiding her smoothly and patiently.

My grandma said it hurt and the RN replied, "It's okay," with the dismissive and demeaning treble lilt people use on toddlers, in front of their parents, when they're trying to show they're not totally disgusted -- before blundering on.

My grandmother had four words for her.

"No, it's not okay."

Yet the nurse kept blundering on.

So I didn't ask, this time. I just told her.

"You need to be more gentle. She told you you're hurting her. There's no reason for that. Please take your time."

She continued working, more calmly, and then avoided our room for the rest of the evening. Good riddance.

Sigh. Avoiding gratuitous pain is something one should never have to ask for. This was a total no-brainer. It wasn't in any way difficult to express that need. But I need to include it on this list, because in healthcare settings, I think it can be tempting to defer to the experts, try to not complain, and be a "good" patient. And it makes me think about what the experience might have been like for someone old and frail, with a foreign accent, asking for help or mercy without the advocacy of a loudmouthed family member.

I'm glad my grandmother spoke up, and that I'm learning from her. I'm glad I was there.

Gained: Comfort for my grandmother.

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