As much as there is so much to learn in terms of skills and background knowledge, predictably I feel like I’m getting to grips with that much more quickly than the communicating with people thing.
Here is an insight into my brain on a typical placement day: okay, talking. I can do talking. I nail talking to people. I can strike up conversations with old ladies and highly confused men with dementia! Well done me. Ten points to Robin! Wait, did I remember to introduce myself?
What about all the other stuff? Should I have held her hand while we were talking? She probably would have liked that. Was I supposed to manually check her pulse as well as using the sats probe? Probably. Yes. I meant to do that before. Must stop being afraid of touching patients!
What about where I put myself when I was talking to him? Should I have been closer? Should I have tried to be more on his level? Did he hurry what he was trying to say because he thought I wanted to get away?
Why do people always talk when I’m trying to count breaths? Always.
One of our dementia patients has taken a turn for the worse, he’s very agitated and needs to have someone with him all the time. I witnessed him having to be pinned by six members of staff to be tranquilised. Sometimes I think delayed emotion processing is an advantage. I could get on with my day without freaking out. It was horrendous. The poor man had no idea what was going on, he was so panicked and can you blame him? In his head, he just wants to go home to his wife, he doesn’t know why he’s not allowed to walk around anymore. He doesn’t know why he’s not being allowed to do as he pleases. He doesn’t know why all these people are suddenly surrounding him. He probably felt like he was being attacked. Dementia is terrifying.
I did see the flipside later in the week, when two of our dementia patients dramatically improved. One went from being non-verbal, agitated and unable to stand when he was admitted, to walking around independently and having a perfectly coherent discussion about cricket. Luckily for me, I can bluff enough cricket knowledge to get by. The other man had been completely unable to communicate and was so agitated he lashed out when we tried to change him. No longer! He could tell Lilo and I to shut the window, because it was chilly. He remembered his date of birth when we asked him on the drugs round, even his family were stunned by that. It was such an amazing transformation!
I know that I don’t want to be on this ward when I qualify, although Lilo has said she’d love me to come back. I also know that I don’t really want to work with dementia patients. But this week was still such an amazing experience, seeing those two men improve so dramatically in such a such a short space of time. It did make me feel certain that nursing is what I want to do.