Thursday, 17 January 2008

The Art of Communication

It's been an interesting couple of weeks on Eye Casualty so far...
  • One patient asked for "Dr Gaylord", when they were actually due to see Dr Hayward.
  • An elderly lady telephoned to find out if it would be suitable for her to come in. I asked her what the problem with her eyes was and she began, "well in 2004..." It was a long conversation!
  • Whilst triaging a patient, he kept referring to me as "doctor" regardless of my uniform.
  • And a very nice gentleman asked me out for a drink. He was blind.
So I'm settling in well and enjoying the challenge of determining what may be the cause of various symptoms. Some patients, when asked what their symptoms are, will simply say "my eye" as if from that descriptive information I can ably diagnose on behalf of the doctor! We also see patients who will tell us that they've had a sore eye for four years now. Would it be innappropriate to define the word "casualty" to these patients?

That aside, we do also see some very sad cases, particularly of young people whose vision has become severely compromised due to simple accidents. I always find it difficult to triage young people, particularly if they're distressed. It certainly encourages you not to take your sight for granted.

We had a lovely 86 year old gentleman with us yesterday. He suffers from Parkinson's and had fallen over. He had a fantastic bruise on the left side of his face. Maxillo Facial sent him to us to ensure his eyes were ok before they got involved. I often find that elderly patients are stereotyped as "confused" all the time. While this gentleman would have been confused following such a bang to his head, it will generally wear off. He was on the ball when I had a cuppa with him - he told me about his adventures during WW2 as a Wellington navigator.

Another elderly lady was with us this week, a Polish lady who moved here after WW2. At 12 years old, she was taken to a ghetto in Germany. It was facinating learning about her life and understanding how different our world is today.

That's the luxury of being a student nurse - we have opportunities to sit down and talk to patients. I'll certainly miss that when I qualify, but aim to talk with patients as much as I can. All good for holistic care I reckon.


Rebecca said...

Good on you!!!! I share the idea to TALK with the patients not only take for granted that they are in a special way just because of there age, sex and so on... I´m now studing psycatri so i´m in the process to try to understand the patient in their´s been working in theory but now we are going out to practie....

the little medic said...

Dr Gaylord - Pissed myself at that.
I'm so immature - how the hell am I going to be a doctor this year.

Nursing Student said...

Glad your having a good time on eye casualty. It seems to be that when you are at the sharp end of healthcare, it does sometimes attract the wierdos.

I got a call the other week on the ambulance (a 999 call here). Patient descbed themself's as being "Not very well". That was it!