Lessons I Learned…


Many years have passed since I went to nursing school…where I was taught how to check a blood pressure…place a catheter…give a bed bath…and so many other tasks…that I have performed repeatedly over the years…
But…my most valuable lessons…were not presented in the classroom…the learning lab…or even with an instructor in the clinical setting…
My most valuable lessons were taught by a little lady who was my home visit patient…
UAB was a decidedly community oriented school…and when a friend of mine heard that I needed a home visit patient…she asked if I would see her grandmother…her husband had passed away…she was in her 80’s…she had sugar and high blood pressure…the family would love for someone to check in on her and keep a check on her pressure…
Let the learning begin…
I arrived with a twenty-something page assessment…I don’t remember what it was called…but…it was filled with questions regarding history…social…family…medical…spiritual…
Just to review the questions would take a while…
What I found was…I couldn’t keep her on task…I’d ask a question…and she’d give me a dissertation on something totally unrelated…she didn’t have dementia…she just wanted to visit…this was a social call for her…a grade for me…I tried in vain to make it through my list…she talked about knowing my fiancée’s grandparents when they all moved from Italy…after an hour or so…I gave up…I’d take the failing grade…I couldn’t interview her…
Interestingly…when I pulled the assessment out at my apartment…I could answer all the questions…she’d told me everything I needed to know…on her terms…
Lesson Learned…if you are willing to listen…people tell you what you need to know…
Subsequent visits ensued…I had teaching to complete…diet…limit carbohydrates…limit sugar…keep her blood sugar and blood pressure in control…I had it all laid out…diet sheets…sodium lists…
She looked me straight in the face…and uttered these words…so what if I die this year instead of next…I want to go with a little meat on my bones…I have to have my basta…and I want a little salt on it
I looked her straight in the face…and with all the stern professionalism a 21 year-old could muster…replied…yes ma’am
Lesson Learned…there’s a difference in quantity and quality of life…a patient…a person…has the right to choose…
Until graduation…I continued to visit her…and I use the term literally…I checked her blood pressure…talked to her about her blood sugars…but never did I try to take away her basta (pasta) or sueka (sauce) again…I listened…I learned…I enjoyed…
Lesson Learned…things go better when everyone has the same agenda…
After graduation…I passed her to a friend who was ready for a home visit patient…and she passed her to a friend when she graduated…and so on…
She lived to be in her ninety’s…and had a little meat on her bones when she went…she left behind a large adoring family…and several students…who became better nurses for having known her…
Jane

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