Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Please Talk to the Patient!

This month, I have been able to accompany two of my family members to the doctor.  There seems to be a recurring theme - the health care professionals want to talk to me rather than the patient. 

I took my grandson who was sick to the doctor because both his parents were at work and I was available.  He is five.  He can speak.  They asked me where he hurts?  It's not my body so I politely commented that they could ask him.  Other times when I was asked a question better answered by the young patient, I would turn and ask him.  I guess my point is that if he is the one with the pain, he is the one who can best communicate where it is.

My 74 (just a few weeks from 75) year old mother fell at her job and injured her wrist.  She is a dishwasher at a busy restaurant.  She is amazing!  The health care workers kept asking me about her wrist as if I know how bad it hurts!  I suggested they ask her.  When it was time for the aftercare instructions, they stood at her bedside and looked right at me and told me how to take care of her wrist.  I suggested they tell her because I don't live with her.  She had just told them her son lives with her - I don't look much like a son! 

After she was settled in her house (where my brother also lives), I repeated the after care instructions just to make sure they both understood.  On my way home, I started thinking of how similar the visits were.  I'm not thinking my grandson felt slighted when they talked to me but I suppose it was quite different for my mother.  She has lived almost three-fourths of a century, raised six children (several years as a single parent) and still works a job I would consider grueling.  And these people were talking around her as if she wasn't capable.  I felt insulted for her!  I hope I was able to make her feel at least somewhat respected by directing the conversation back to her.

By the way, she loves her job and tells me it isn't hard!  My hat's off to her.

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