Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Sarcastic (no sh*t!) Open Letter

Dear Parent,
We are happy to provide you and your child with care today.  If there is anything we can do to make your visit extra-special or answer any questions, please ask any of us; we work as a team and automatically know the intimate details of your history, allergies, medications, and exactly how long the wait will be.  Feel free to ask our secretary and radiology tech also because they all have instantaneous access to this information as well as everything you have told the 3 nurses who have taken care of you today.  They are not at all inconvenienced by your requests for extra blankets and pillows, pain medicine, hovering at the nurses station or in the doorway in spite of having been given a call button and closing your door.  Patient privacy apparently just means YOUR privacy, so think nothing of it.

I know you are concerned about your son.  It is just awful that he stepped on a nail while wearing his tennis shoe, but forgive me if I need a little guidance in finding the puncture wound.  No, it neither appears red nor swollen to me as I have scrubbed it twice with antiseptic solution.

I do apologize for the 2 1/2 hour wait today, as you can see every room is filled.  I am reasonably sure that your son will not get "blood poisoning".  Thankfully you have kept such an eagle eye on it checking and updating us every 10 minutes about your observations, any trifling concerning redness and elevating it on the three pillows.  I can't say for certain, because I am just a stupid nurse, but I can tell you with some assurance that at the moment he does not have flesh eating disease.  Yes, I would bet my children on that.

I am happy to provide you with 6 warm blankets; no, I don't mind at all that you have used them all for your healthy 12 year old and that my 80 year old patient next door is now cold and without.  Not a problem; I have given her my fleece jacket, so it's all good.

Of course I think it is reasonable to wheel your son back and forth by wheelchair to the bathroom and to the snack machine in the lobby, after all, who knows what damage he may have done walking around (and from the parking lot) in the 3 hours since he injured himself; I'm sure it wasn't easy walking around at the high school football game.  It is absolutely not a problem that you prefer he be taken to xray that you insisted on by gurney because "he would be more comfortable";  I don't know how I could be so dense as to suggest that he could go by the wheelchair you have commandeered this afternoon for your son's exclusive use.  Perhaps I could now put the gentleman with cellulitis in it.

I am so heartened by your devotion, steadfastly sitting by his bedside and stroking his hair the entire time, it made the chunks rise up brought tears to my eyes. The only time you left was to make one of 20 phone calls and to smoke a cigarette or 10 during your wait.

Of course we will provide you with your son's first dose of antibiotic that you also insisted upon.  I understand how inconvenient it is that we don't have chewable tablets.  Yes, a lot of 9 year olds can swallow pills and some 12 year olds can't.  No, he shouldn't chew a capsule, I'm sorry that is all I have in that antibiotic.   I don't have "any chocolate chip ice cream lying around" and available for him to try and slide the capsule down.  I know that the pharmacy is open for another hour, but  of course it is reasonable for me to delay the EKG on the 65 year old woman with chest pain and send the hysterical mom with the 14 month old febrile seizure to the waiting room while I call that in for you.  It will "just take a minute".

Here are your discharge instructions.  A dressing will consist of a band aid.  Change it every day.  Watch for signs of infection.  Post-op shoe for comfort.  Wear it as long as you want.  Call your doctor tomorrow for recheck.  Antibiotic as written.  I promise I will not leave this room until you understand each and every word.  Really, I have time.

I completely understand that the post-op shoe is ugly but that is the only style it comes in: "ugly", small, medium and large.  The doctor sincerely believes that Tylenol with codeine is not appropriate for this injury, but here is one for you to take with you for tonight "just in case".

Finally, I think I would have just let him walk on the post-op shoe since it didn't really hurt, but if you want to get a hernia giving your 12 year old a piggy back, be my guest.

Until next time,