Touched by a Patient
by Lindsay Orders, RN, BSN
I go to meet my next patient I will be taking care of, when anesthesia informs me that the patient is nearly blind (she has no peripheral vision) and that she is very hard of hearing (clinically deaf). ‘Oh, and Lindsay, she only has one family member with her, her husband, and he is deaf.’ Wow, I said to myself, this is going to be a challenge. I had not realized yet this would be a true test to what kind of nurse I am.
“The Science of Nursing”
“Good afternoon, Mrs. E, my name is Lindsay and I am a registered nurse. I will be taking care of you today in the operating room.” I show her my badge, and show her husband my badge, so that my identity is clear to both her and her husband. I then ask the CRNA to show his badge to both the patient and husband so they can see who he is and what his role is. I then ask the interpreter, whom is signing for the patient and her husband, please let them know I will take great care of her and will keep her husband informed during the procedure through you.
“The Art of Nursing”
I could tell Mrs. E and her husband was nervous and scared. I knew it must be related to the communication barrier and I wanted to reassure them we could work through the interpreter to have a successful and positive experience. I ask Mrs. E if it would be okay if the interpreter went back into the operating room with us and she could help us communicate as she was going under anesthesia. I would then bring the interpreter back to the waiting room and inform the husband that we were getting ready to start the surgery, and that I would be calling him back through the interpreter in about an hour. Surgery is a very scary experience, it would be for me and to blind and deaf would make it extremely scary. As a team, we worked together to make the barrier as thin as possible and were able to help Mrs. And Mr. E to have a positive experience.
“The Patient’s Perspective”
I call the patient Mrs. E to conceal her identity and because she is ‘Mrs. Extraordinary’. I went to day surgery to interview a patient who was blind, inhibiting her from seeing the same things you or I could see. She was clinically deaf and could not hear me. I picked her hand up and told her through the interpreter I would be right there with her, would not leave her in surgery and would let her husband know how surgery was progressing. I wanted to ease her fears as much as I could, she was brave and extraordinary because she found trust in me and the barrier vanished as we overcame it with the help of our interpreter and the caring tough. To touch a life is why I am a nurse, but my patient was able to touch my life, which is an incredible feeling. Today when an obstacle presents with a patient, I think about the day I took care of Mrs. E and I know I can tackle any obstacle.