Ensuring The Insulin Is Insul-out

, , | Healthy | November 14, 2017

(I work in the satellite pharmacy at my hospital. A triage technician is always on hand to answer calls and messages from doctors, nurses, and other pharmacists. It’s a difficult job that requires deft technicians: some of the calls they get raise issues that are difficult to resolve, and others are just plain goofy. D5W is short for a stock solution of 5% dextrose sugar in water.)

Triage Tech: *picking up the phone* “Pharmacy, how can I help you?” *pause* “No, ma’am, I don’t believe those two are compatible with each other. ” *pause* “What? No, no, I don’t actually know offhand if the drug would precipitate out or react with the D5W in any way. I could look that up for you, but in this case I really don’t think it’s necessary. ” *pause* “You’re asking me if you can add insulin to D5W” *pause* “You want to infuse your patient with both sugar and insulin at once. Just… please… don’t.”

Kindness In Death

, , , , | Healthy | November 14, 2017

I used to work in an oncology unit specialising in gastrointestinal cancers – the sort of thing that, by the time it got to us, all we could do was arrange for palliative treatment to make the time the patient had left longer and more comfortable. I handled phone calls from the patients and families, all of whom were obviously upset and as a result not as thoughtful as they might have been.

Sometimes, they had a right to be abrasive, though. One man whose mother needed an urgent chemotherapy booking had been left hanging for weeks, and the registrar who was supposed to be handling the booking hadn’t done anything despite the fact that her prognosis was dwindling all the time. Eventually, I got fed up; I grabbed the patient file and the documentation that he hadn’t signed yet, interrupted the consultant at lunch, stood over him until he checked and signed the document, delivered everything to the ward personally, and, apologising to the still-furious son of the patient, told him his mother had an appointment the following day.

Less than a month later, I got word that the patient in that story had died. Two days after that, reception told me that said patient’s son was on his way to my office. I was sure he was coming to berate me to my face… but when he turned up, it was with a small silk rose and a small box of chocolates. He told me that he wanted to apologise for losing his temper, and tell me how grateful he was for how hard I’d worked to see that his mother got proper care.

I am never going to forget the man who managed to be so thoughtful of someone else even with such a recent bereavement. It’s the yardstick to which I hold my behaviour to this day.

Getting Your Religion With Surgical Precision

, , , | Healthy | November 13, 2017

(I get a phone call from the hospital where I’ll be having outpatient surgery at in a few days. The nurse is asking me personal questions about my medical history, medicines, and gets to questions about religion. I’m atheist.)

Nurse: “Do you have any spiritual or religious objections that interfere with this surgery?”

Me: “No, ma’am.”

Nurse: “Do you go to church?”

Me: “No, ma’am.”

Nurse: *pauses* “Well, that’s okay. What religion are you?”

Me: “None.”

Nurse: “None?”

Me: “Yes, none. I’m atheist.”

Nurse: *takes long pause*

Me: “Are you there, ma’am?”

Nurse: “Do you need prayer?”

Me: “…what?”

Nurse: “Would you like prayer before the surgery?”

Me: “No…? I’m fine without prayer. But thanks.”

Nurse: “Have you ever been to church?”

Me: “Yes.”

Nurse: *long pause, then whispered* “Well, that’s okay.”

(We continued after that without any problems or weird pauses.)

When Patients Aren’t

, , | Healthy | November 13, 2017

It’s a Friday night, and my dad has been really sick all week. It eventually gets to the point where he needs to go to the emergency room. Being a Friday night, the ER is relatively full.

Once he gets there, and speaks to the nurse, he is immediately given a wheelchair and taken straight through. The looks of disgust and just pure hatred he got from everyone in the waiting room was astonishing.

He had pneumonia, and had he arrived even an hour later, chances are he would have died.

Seriously, if someone is taken straight through at the emergency room, chances are their problems are probably worse than yours!

Making A Point About The Time To Appoint

, | Healthy | November 13, 2017

(My doctor’s appointment is at two pm. The nearest bus stop is an hour from my house, so I have to catch a ride with my mom at seven am. Her work has a bus stop right next to it. By eleven am, I have finally made it to the hospital. I go to the front desk to check in.)

Me: “Hi! I know I’m early, sorry, but I can just wait.”

Nurse: *loud sigh* “I’ll see if I can have him see you earlier.”

Me: “No, it’s really fine. I ride the bus, so I’m always early because I’m afraid of being late. It’s fine. I’m sorry I’m so early.”

Nurse: “Just sit down.”

(I went to sit down and listened as she called the doctor. Even though I didn’t want her to, she fiddled with the schedule until the doctor could see me early. The vitals nurse and doctor told me how inconsiderate I was for wanting to be seen early. It is a miserable appointment.)

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