Saturday, September 19, 2009

Grunge Work and an Unlikely Source of Help

One of the staff docs that I work with is a fairly reserved guy whose demeanor can be mistaken for snobby or stand-offish. He’s not mean per se, but he gets irritable fairly easily. He’ll never throw a hissy fit at any of the staff, but rather just mutter quietly to himself when doody hits the fan. He’s not exactly friendly, but nor is he unfriendly – he’s just quiet. He always lends a hand where needed by whoever without being asked. And he’s scary smart. Sometimes, I like to pretend that I’m documenting furiously when in fact I’m listening to him teach the med students and residents because he explains concepts so clearly that even in my most twitchy sleep deprived state, I manage to learn and retain the new knowledge. Having said that, he would not be the first person I’d ask for help for something trivial – I just don’t feel very comfortable around him. However, he completely surprised me during my last shift.

I had a fairly heavy patient who was hypoxic and was well on his way towards delirium. The patient was a HUGE guy and he needed a boost up in bed. As crazy as I can get, even I knew that if I even tried to lift him myself, my back would seek vengeance on me for years to come. So I did what any nurse does – put the side rail up and trolled the department for an extra pair of hands. That’s when the doc asked me, “what do you need?” Stuttering, fumbling and with some fairly elaborate gestures, I manage to tell him that I need to boost hypoxia/delirium guy up in his stretcher and get him comfy. The doc starts to head towards the patient’s room and tells me that he’ll give me a hand with the boost. Confused, yet relieved, I started to follow him. When we reached into the patient’s room, the patient had spilled his water and jell-o all over the linens, which meant that now I had to change his gown and linens as well as boost him up in bed. When I turned around, the doc had left the room. Just as I was about to silently wish a pox on his house and mentally assemble a shopping list of materials I would need to construct a voodoo doll in his likeness, he walked in with fresh linens, some more water and jell-o as well as the patient’s next dose of antibiotics (which were properly mixed AND labeled). Not only did he help me with all the grunge work, he sat down with the patient for the next 20 minutes trying to reorient him back to reality while I arranged follow up appointments for another patient.

I never did get a chance to thank him for his help since that quiet period was sadly the eye of the patient influx storm. Not that he’ll be reading this blog post (or at least I really hope not), but I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised at how he was willing to lend a hand with the less glamorous aspect of patient care instead of sitting on the sidelines and telling the charge nurse that the patient needed to be tended to. Dude totally gets team work. I still won’t be asking him for too much help though.


PurpleRN said...

That blows my mind. I don't even think I could get my unit Manager to help with patient care. The ANM is cool, but the top dog is too busy for such things.

I can't even imagine a doctor helping out like that. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to think it's possible :)

DreamingTree said...

Wow -- he's a rare one! One of our family docs will often help patients, but most would just pass the buck.

Anonymous said...

I had a moment like that. I had a doc who wanted to see a patients back on the floor. (Large bedbound, uncooperative). She offered to help me roll her. So did the x ray tech near the room. We did, and dicovereda desperate need for a linnen change. I started to request help from other nurses, and the doc said, "No, we can help you." "Oohh - kaay" I say.
It was pretty funny because half way through the occupied bed change I am shaking my head in disbelief that this is happening, and she is shaking her head at confusion with what seems to her to be a complex process. She says to me, "Boy I am sure glad you know what you are doing here, because, I don't have a clue." Lots of laughter.