It Takes All Kinds! - Part Three|
Three more true stories of when I worked in a hospital Emergency Room years ago. They all happened in the mid-1970's.
An elderly woman was brought in from a nursing home. She had broken her hip. After taking X-rays and further examining her, I was given the task of placing her in traction. When she was in her room, I set up the framework on her bed and then went to ask a nurse to help me. I needed someone to hold her leg while I wrapped it for the traction. The patient's frame of mind had deteriorated rapidly. She rambled on and on about how she needed to buy some new shoes so she would have something to put the ice cream in. Also, she hoped little Billy would get home from school soon, and so forth. She was obviously out of her mind. I casually told the nurse "I hope I don't get that way when I get as old as her." All of a sudden, the patient sat up in bed and told me "I hope to God you do!" and then laid back down and started rambling again about her new shoes and ice cream.
On another occassion an adult male was brought in as a result of an auto accident. He had multiple compound fractures. (A compound fracture is when the bone has broken through the skin and is exposed to the air.) Also, his head had gone thorugh the windshield. (This was before the days of air bags.) The patient was a bloody mess and was totally out of it. Doctor Harris was called in to treat his orthopedic wounds. (The doctor died over 20 years ago so I can name him.) Upon entering the treatment room, without even examining the patient or looking at the X-rays, Doctor Harris announced "It isn't worth my time to even try to treat him because he is going to die anyway." We were all shocked to say the least. Another doctor was called in to treat the patient.
Several weeks later, Doctor Harris was on the orthopedic ward at the nurses' station and talking to the head nurse. Low and behold, the same patient that Doctor Harris refused to treat weeks earlier was in a private room across from the nurses' station. Minutes later, the patient rolled himself out to the hallway. He was in a wheel chair and had a cast on one leg from his hip to his toes. The patient asked "Are you doctor Harris?" The doctor replied "Yes." The patient then asked the doctor if he would pick something up off the floor he had dropped earlier. The doctor replied in the affirmative and asked specifically where it was. The patient asked the doctor to turn around and bend down, "it's down there" as he pointed to a spot on the floor. The doctor did so. The patient then popped a wheelie and hit the doctor's behind with his leg that was in the cast. This action caused the doctor to fly forward and sprawl out on the floor. The doctor, regaining composure, asked why he had done so. The patient replied that although he did not know what he had looked like he "would never forget that voice" and that he was the patient he had written off weeks ago. "Now, that is what I think of you," the patient replied. The doctor dusted himself off and quietly left the area without any further comment.
If there is anything that the above two incidents taught me is that even if the patient is in a coma or "out of their mind," they can still hear you!
My thrid story is about another elderly patient that had been a patient in a nursing home and broken his hip. The patient was 82 years of age. From the time he was brought in he continualy asked where his mother was. He also informed us all that he had meals with his mother "everyday." OK, injured elderly people often go into a "second childhood" and recall incidents from their childhood. For this reason we all passed his talk about his mother due to his "senility."
Later that day, an old woman using a cane and walking slumped over, came down the hall. She asked "Where is my son?" Sure enough, this woman WAS the earlier patient's mother! She was 98 years old and they both shared the same room at the nursing home.