My shift started quietly and smoothly despite choosing 12 patients of the lower wing over 6 patients of our higher wing. I decided to choose this wing because I don’t have NGT feedings and most of the patients on that wing are ambulatory and can eat orally. NGT feedings take most of our time as nurses especially if you’re in a ward. In the higher wing, there are 4 NGT feedings there. Time consuming, I know.
I was about to do my last rounds at 4:30 am when a patient’s relative called for assistance. I went immediately to the room and saw that the patient, about 85-90 years old, is restless. I asked her what the matter is; she said that she wants to go home. The patient looks very pale and her hands were ice cold. I assumed that her blood sugar have dropped and anytime, this patient may faint. I assisted her back to her bed and checked her vital signs which yielded 80/50 mmHg and as I expected, her blood sugar dropped to 64 mg/dl (normal is 80 – 120 mg/dl). I immediately called the attention of my charge nurse and in a few minutes, our medical resident doctor came in to assess the patient.
The old woman started crying when our resident asked her a few questions. She whined continuously like a toddler and started calling our her late husband. Her daughter at her side, teary-eyed, called up her siblings to visit their mother. As ordered, I gave IV sugar which caused her to cry more when she felt the drug running through her veins. “Nurse, ang sakit. Tanggalin mo na ito!” She complained. I told her to calm down and that everything will be okay but she just replied, “Hindi naman ikaw ang nasa kalagayan ko. Di mo alam ang nararamdaman ko!” She’s right. I don’t have the right to say that everything will be okay when I have no idea what she is going through and what she feels about her life and her family.
Meanwhile, in another room, my cancer patient pulled out his NGT. This tube, which is connected to a bedside bottle, serves as a drainage of excess toxic fluids inside his stomach. We have no choice but to reinsert it again since this would alleviate his gastric upset. When the medical intern came in, she tried to re-insert it on his right nostril but he kept on coughing which resulted to another attempt. The medical intern said, “Sir, lumunok po kayo. Wag nyo po lalabanan ha.” Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the patient shouted at her and said, “Wag mo ako pagalitan! May cancer ako! Hirap na hirap na ako! Hindi mo alam yung nararamdaman ko! May cancer ako, alam mo ba yun?!” I didn’t know what to say. The only thing I did was touch his hand to make him feel that I do understand what he is going through.
When I was still a student nurse, our instructors reiterated that nurses should have empathy. I applied that up until now. But sometimes, no matter how you try to put yourself in their shoes and make them feel that you understand them, it doesn’t really make them feel better. I can attest to that because I am also in and out of the hospital because of my endometriosis. Despite my positive outlook in life, I can’t deny that I still feel sad about having this type of illness. Sometimes, I just see myself crying when I’m suffering from excruciating pain. Fortunately, I am surrounded by people who are very supportive and understanding. It makes my life a bit easier and brighter.
I guess, these two patients lack the support system. I don’t know. Maybe yes, maybe not. There might be some point in their lives that they feel no one understands what they are going through, that no one really cares about them. We have a few geriatric patients whose relatives don’t even bother to visit them. Whenever I ask their maids, they would always reply, “Busy kase sa business nila…” I don’t get it. I know that they need to work hard to pay for the hospital bills and medicines but a daily visit, even for an hour, would make a difference. Sigh. These are indeed sad stories in the hospital. I wish that these people would realize that life is short and that we should tell our loved ones how much they are loved and cared for.
If you have a family member who is in the hospital, do you mind if I ask you to visit them and cheer them up? I would really appreciate it.