Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lessons I learned from a child with a brain tumor

1. Stop. Look at the person who is talking and listen. You can hear a lot more than the words they are saying.

I didn't understand him very easily until I consciously thought that I needed to stop "multitasking" while in the room and focus on him speaking. When I was patient with him while speaking (he stuttered and had a hard time getting words out) he was more patient with himself and had an easier time communicating with me. Therefore making my job easier and making his day better.

2. The more you understand someone, the less frustrated and angry they become.

After, I learned lesson number one, I realized that he could understand more of what I said than I originally thought. If I was patient with him, he was patient with himself and would become less frustrated. He would then be more willing to get from the bed to the chair and back on his own rather than just laying in bed all day. Often, the process of having him move from the bed to the chair was met with crying and screaming, but he knew, that I knew, that he didn't want to do it, but that "no" wasn't an option.

3. Don't underestimate someone's abilities.

When it came time for his medicine. I was prepared for a battle. I had another nurse on the "back up" that I could call in if I needed help "giving" him the medicine. I went in and sat on his bed with the 3 medicines he needed to take. I asked him which one he wanted first. He chose the one with the least amount. Then, I asked him if he wanted to do it or he wanted me to. (this is all done very slowly, but I realized, my patience would be rewarded) He reached out for the medicine, messed with the cap on the syringe and finally pulled it off. Put the syringe to his mouth and pushed in the medicine. He took the next one, removed the cap (after struggling with it) and took the medicine. He did all three without a hitch. Shocked me and the other nurse waiting outside. But I couldn't have been more happy.

4. Be careful what you say around someone. They remember everything you don't want them to remember.

This is one of those things that I could beat myself up over. Someone was passing out pizza on the unit, asking if my patients wanted a piece. I thought of my brain tumor patient who hadn't eaten much all day. I went into his room said "Do you want some Piz...How is your pepsi?" I stopped before finishing the word "pizza" Hoping that he hadn't caught on to what I said. I had forgotten that he was on a pureed diet. (that doesn't include pizza in case you were wondering ;-) ) When dinner was delivered, I took in his tray. He looked at the jello, applesauce, yogurt and "green stuff" and says "you forgot my pizza" He really made me feel bad when the next morning I asked if he wanted something to eat. He said 'pizza" I said "how about some applesauce? pudding? yogurt?" He said "I eat applesauce, pudding, yogurt all day long" In his broken up, stuttering words. He then informed me that he wanted his food on a plate. (everything was pureed and in little bowls) and he didn't want any "green stuff"

5. Just because someone kicks you, doesn't mean they don't like you.

When I walked into his room for the first time on my shift, his diaper had leaked and he had soaked through everything on his bed. I apologized and said I needed to give him a bath right away that morning. Then get him up into the wheelchair so the mattress could be cleaned. He started crying and screaming because he hates baths. He actually kicked me during this process. Then later that evening as I was saying good night. He asked where I was going. I explained that I needed to go home to sleep. He asked when I would be back. I said I would be back on Friday. He smiled and said. "OK. I'll see you Friday"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I have just discovered (again) that I am a hypocrite.

A few days ago a friend was over and wanted to borrow some DVDs. We started talking about how sometimes people don't return things that they have borrowed. I made a comment about not understanding how someone can have something of someone else's and not know that it's not theirs. I just don't get it.

Then today...I opened a drawer in my bathroom and discovered some hair clips this same friend loaned me months ago and I still haven't returned. Hypocrite.

As a side note, we have a program on our Mac that I love called Delicious Library. When you enter in the ISBN of a DVD/Book/CD. It stores it in your "library" and then when someone wants to borrow it, you enter it into the program, assign a return date, etc. Helping to keep track of who has what. If you're interested, here's a website. I wonder if they have a way to keep track of hairpins loaned out to hypocritical friends?