A couple of days ago an 86-year-old patient was admitted to us during my night shift: Glasgow coma scale 5, pH of 7.1 CO2 of 110 mmHg. Even though this seemed like a clear indication for intubation, because of his medical history we were hesitant to intubate him right away and decided to give non invasive ventilation a try.
The nurse and I spent practically the whole night watching after him. With great success. His blood gases and mental status improved rapidly. In the morning of my following night shift I asked him, now with an O2 Saturation of 100% and normal blood gases how he felt.
I’m gonna be honest with you, I was fishing for compliments and kind of expected something like:
“Horrible! This is the worst place I have ever been in. What is this place?” I asked him what was wrong he replied: “Look at these pyjamas your nurse gave me!! I can’t wear those! What is this? And the food? Who can eat this? This is the worst place I have ever been in my whole life. $%&$$”
I’m gonna be honest with you once again and confess that my response was not all that professional. Maybe, cause once again I was sleep-deprived.
I can think of four ways to handle these situations better than I did it back then:
1. Don’t expect thankfulness.
2. What are the odds?
3. Don’t focus on the unthankful people.
4. Challenge them.
“Really? Really? You almost died a couple of days ago.
During the night three paramedics drive to your house, call another doctor who rushes in your home, picks you up, drives you to the ER where three other nurses and two other docs help you, then the ICU-nurse and another doc spend the whole night making sure you are fine.
You get well very quickly and the first thing you do is complaining about the pyjamas and the food? Really? That is the main point you focus your judgement on, right now? Really?”