Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Imagine you are this patient

One day, you and your spouse are fine. The next day, your spouse goes into sudden cardiac arrest. EMS shows up, starts CPR, and doesn’t say a word to you other than yelling at you to move... then all of a sudden they are gone, with the love of your life. An hour later you are at the hospital with your neighbor who was kind enough to drive you there, just so you can find out that your beloved is gone, and you will never be able to talk to them, or hold them ever again. The services come and family shows up to pay their respects, but after everyone moves on to their own lives and leaves you there.... utterly alone and lost. 6 months later, you yourself are not doing so well you have a stroke which leaves you unable to take care of yourself properly. Your remaining family decides that they don't want to bother dealing with your condition and ultimately decides to put you into a nursing home, after selling off your house, taking what they wanted, then trashing the rest of your memories. You are now in this nursing home, with next to no free will. Your room mate isn't much for talking, and does nothing but scream all night long. You can't sleep, you have nobody to talk to, and your family? They haven't come to see you since they moved you into this retched place. 

You have a doctor’s appointment today. You are happy about being able to leave for a while and have a conversation or two with the nice EMTs coming to pick you up. Only, they aren't so nice. After making you painfully stand and walk to the stretcher with little help, they rustle you around a bunch, and ignore your winces of pain. This stretcher isn't very comfortable, and since this stroke you have a hard time holding your head up, and you get cold real easily. You wish they could understand that and would offer you a pillow or blanket, but they don't. Well this trip isn't what you thought it would be. The whole ride, you hoped they would talk to you, but nope they are too busy talking to each other through that little door between the front and the back. 

We get to the doctor’s office, did you really just hear them argue about who was going to stay in the room with you through the appointment? All you can think is, "am I really that bad?" 

Well it's time to go back "home". Did that EMT really just fall asleep while in the back with me? I guess they must be exhausted. 

Well, you are now back in your room, you slowly and painfully walk back to your bed with little assistance and you can see the look of annoyance on the EMTs face, they must be in a hurry. Then, they are gone.

The nurse comes in, and quickly checks on you, but does not notice that you are wet with urine, and rushes off to the next patient... they may be sick or dying, so why should I fuss over a little urine. But now, I think I have a sore on my bottom, oh how I wish I could get up by myself. Where is my family? They said they would visit!

We have all seen this patient, there are many like it. Put yourself where they are. Be kind, talk to them, and make them smile. You just may be the highlight of their day. There are many patients in nursing homes that never have a visitor, other than you. Whether you are there by choice or not doesn't make a difference to them, because after all someone is finally there for THEM! Be kind to our elders my friends! Being a transfer EMT can be more meaningful than you think!-RU


  1. This post definitely puts some thoughts into my mind. I have been the EMT on that call and I have been the chipper make your day EMT. Empathy is a true concept. You never know what that person has been through unless you actually talk to them. We are called "heroes" so many times, but this is one of the few chances you truly have to be a hero to someone.

  2. This is so true. It is the saddest sight one can witness, even sadder than death. Why, because of the loneliness they feel. Every time I worked with the elderly while a house EMT, I never forgot that once upon a time, they were the bread winner of their family, they did great things. Some of these patients did share their stories, others had scars and tattoos that bore their history and the hell they survived. No words needed to be spoken in fear of dredging up painful and frightening memories (holocust survivor). But, these are our elders. Their wisdom and advice is what we need to live by. With all the turmoil in our country right now, there is evidence of our elders long forgotten.

  3. THANK YOU RU for writing stories such as these! I used to take a great deal of ridicule from coworkers and was called "Lil Suzy Hand Holder" by some as if it were an insult and told it bothered coworkers that I took time to "coddle" and make certain my pts were actually received etc at facilities. I actually had a man and his spouse recognize me on a flight and thank me for the care I provided him during a series of routine "Burn and Returns" for his CA Txs. This was 5 years AFTER. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing and letting me know that I am not alone in my ideals and thoughts.