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Senior scene

September 21, 2013

As Time Goes By: A shocking story about defibrillator replacement


I got to my room which overlooked a courtyard. I was told that my roommate had dementia and was prone to verbal outbursts. No problem. I figured I could handle this since my Uncle Herman had dementia.

I had specific instructions not to move my left arm in any weird contortions, lest I rip out by stitches or whatever they do to wounds today.

I had just dozed off after saying goodbye to Diane until the next day, when my roommate started to shout that he couldn’t breathe. I waited to hear a nurse running in but there was no nurse.

There was another shout for help and I fully expected to hear a death rattle, but no, the shouts for help continued.

Finally a nurse arrived and, after listening to my roommate’s plea for help because he couldn’t breathe (apparently this had been an ongoing complaint), she told him that once again his cannula for the oxygen had slipped into his mouth and all he was doing was blowing up his cheeks.

My roommate had over the years lost his manners. I was shocked at his foul mouth when it came to the nursing staff.

I know that each of us thinks he is king or she is queen. I think it is easy to forget that we are dealing with people who have feelings that can be hurt.

Nurses are over-worked. All you have to do is watch them scurrying from one room to another, taking care of patient comfort. Too many times these are just “hand-holding events” — where we ask to have our pillows fluffed or to pour us a glass of iced water. It is easy to feel forgotten or lonely in a hospital bed.

A real smile and a “thank-you” or a “please” said to a nurse can go a long way when you are in a service industry. So, mind your manners. SMILE!

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