Would you like regular or decaf?

Some patients and their families think that nurses are
waitresses in scrubs. They think that their request for a blanket should be
their nurse’s number one priority, because she couldn’t possibly have any other
patients with real problems, right? I had one of these patients the other day.
The worst part was that she should not have even been in the ER, she should
have gone to a walk-in clinic or her primary care doctor. But she showed up at
the ER and was brought to my room, so I got to wait on her. Every few minutes
the mother would signal me from the door. They needed a blanket, so I went and
got a blanket. As I handed her the blanket, she said that they also needed
towels. Why couldn’t she have told me that before!? She wanted me to call the
doctor at least every half hour to ask her questions. I can’t bug the doctor
while she is in with a trauma to ask how long until my stable patient is
discharged! I don’t know why I could not communicate this information to the
patient’s mother, but somewhere along the line we were not connecting. After
the girl told me that she was in extreme pain, I got the doctor to write an
order for IV pain meds. When I tried to flush the IV, the line was blown. I
informed the girl that I would have to start a new IV or give the medicine as a
shot, and she suddenly no longer had pain! She didn’t have pain for at least
two hours, until the doctor started talking about discharging her. While
fetching yet another blanket for my patient, I noticed that another patient was
being brought back to my other room, so I glanced at her chart. It said,
"laceration to foot." The girl was wheeled into the room and she
smiled and waved at me as she passed by. I relaxed a little bit, thinking that
this would be an easy case. I went in the room and started my assessment of
her. She had a make-shift bandage over her foot, so I put my gloves on and
lifted it off. I could not believe what I saw- her foot was cut so badly that
you could see the tendon to her toe. While I was examining her foot, her
parents lifted the sheet up to block her view. I quickly understood why. These
were some smart parents. I asked the girl to rate her pain for me. She said it
was a two out of five. Had she had the chance to see how badly she was hurt,
I’m sure it would have been a seven out of five! I just couldn’t get over how
different my two patients were- the one with nothing wrong with her was
screaming "NURSE!!" every time I walked by the room, and even
screamed at the top of her lungs when I took her temperature across her
forehead. The patient with a cut down to the tendon was polite and never even
complained. When going from the heavenly patient to the, uh, opposite of
heavenly patient, I wanted to tell her how bad the girl next door was making
her look. But I like where I work, and I don’t want to lose my job yet, so I
served her with a smile my entire shift. I was shocked and hurt when they
stiffed me on the tip though….. Maybe that third cup of coffee was too


8 thoughts on “Would you like regular or decaf?

  1. well apparently the er isn\’t much different than the floor after all!! sorry hun, i hate nights like that! you so want to say listen i have people with real problems!

  2. Oh yes… those patients make you want to pull your hair out.  Everything has to do with attention-seeking behavior, so there is nothing you can do to stop it.  It would be so nice to give them a glimpse of what REAL injuries/illnesses are.  Even then, I don\’t think they\’d behave in the ER. Grrr!
    I am so happy that you are enjoying your job, Katie!  I just took the ENPC course and thought about you and your Peds ER!  Kids terrify me.  I am trying so hard to get better about that.  I\’ve been in nursing almost 15 years and have never worked in a Peds setting. 
    I admire you SO MUCH!

  3. Next time i\’m in the hospital i\’ll remember that being a nurse doesn\’t mean personal assitant. Although having one would be nice!! LOL
    Oh katie you and your stories are sometimes funny and sad but at the same time very informative. When you become a patient you forget that you are not the most important person on the floor or in the ER. Your cranky and want things now. I\’ve been there, yes sadly enough I was someone like that once or twivce in my life. Now you\’ve shown me a side that i never even thought of, the nurses side of things.
    I don\’t envy your job at all. Other people\’s "personal discards" to put it nicely, i can not handle. If you puke i\’ll be right there puking. I can\’t hold back, i\’ve got a weak stomach for that sort of thing. hahaha that\’s why i work with computers… GEEK it up…:o)

  4. Wow. Luckily you had a heavenly patient to balance out the not so heavenly patient.  I bet you were glad when they finally discharged little Ms. Dictator.

  5. Grey\’s Anatomy has nothing on you Katie! NOT ONE SINGLE THING!! I take that back..they get more money, have really cute doctors in the show and fake everything they do! You are by far much more interesting and funny!! We should send your stories to a TV sitcom producer. You could be famous!!!! How\’s Mr. Mike..we have not heard much about him lately?

  6. I just got home from the hospital (partial amputation of my left foot) and I was a \’heavenly\’ patient. I\’m sure that I was treated much better by the nurses than the not-so-heavenly ones.  Some people are just asses and don\’t realize that you have many more patients then them and many more important duties then bringing another blanket!!  I had Great nurses who made my stay more than bearable!!
    Take care,   Bob~
    PS   I did a few posts on my hospital stay!

  7. I realize you can\’t really tell the bad patient what a b. she is, but maybe you can lavish praise on the good one (and maybe share with her how special she is!)  I have long had the fantasy of being so rich I didn\’t need to work and spending my time taking various service jobs and telling the customers exactly what I thought of them – not sure I would put int all the years of training it would take to have this one day of gratification as a nurse.  I thought I had reached the limit with my days at Taco Bell!  I always like my nurses (I dated one in college) – I don\’t remember ever having a \’bad\’ one.  I do not, I hope, expect issues of comfort to be handled constantly – I don\’t think it ever occurred to me that a nurse should make me comfortable – I was always in such pain in the rare times I have been in the hospital, that merely being too cold or warm or having bad TV was not really in the forefront of my mind.  I suppose if you were able to come up with a suitably mean thing you could do for the evil patients, you wouldn\’t be the type to become a nurse in the first place.  

  8. Hi!
    I have a stupid question but since I am not american it is very important for me to know : do nurses get tips? Do I have to tip a nurse ?
    My common sense would be no tips because in my country we don\’t tip anybody…

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