I think that this post will be the first in a how-to series. Much like the patient profiles, you can expect one of these every now and then (aka, whenever I come up with one).
1. Don't ring the call bell more than once every hour and a half to two hours- unless it's for something urgent.
If you're a heavy call bell ringer (something we've discussed), I, the nurse's aide, won't come check on you at random. You know why? Because I know you'll be ringing that damn bell soon anyway, so what's the point of stopping in yet again?
To get on my good side, ring the bell infrequently for things like water, gingerale, cover-straightening, etc. I'm doing rounds. I'll come by to check on you for those things anyway. There's NO NEED TO RING THE CALL BELL ABOUT THEM.
Things that qualify as urgent, for which you should definitely ring the bell: chest pain, heart-racing, and bathroom/bedpan requests. Nothing else.
If you dropped something- do you really need it now? Right this second? Can it wait twenty more minutes til I come in by my own volition? At least consider it.
2. Keep the room parties to a minimum.
We love it when your family stops by. There's nothing better than some reassuring company in the hospital so that you won't break down crying later because you're eighty-nine and nobody who's alive cares, boohoo. The thing is... when you're sharing a room with someone else and have more than four other fussy, doting people in it at one time, there's a danger of overcrowding. An inevitable danger, I should say. The average hospital room size is smaller than a college dormroom, and you're STILL SHARING IT with a roommate.
Please. Limit the partying, and make sure those visitors don't stay past eight. You're in the hospital because you're sick. Sick people should go to bed early, or at least let their roommates do so.
3. Understand my job position.
I am not the nurse. I am the aide of the nurse's position. I do the grunt work, and I'm cool with it.
Therefore, do NOT ask me to explain the effects of Coumadin, or why your doctor took you off this medication or increased your dosage on that one. A nurse's aide's basic mantra is the following:
I have no fucking idea; I just work here.
Most likely, I don't have my associate's degree yet, let alone my bachelor's. I'm measuring pee, scooping poop for stool samples, and fetching you water to get the experience and cash to go to school so that I can learn the answers to your questions. You asking me these questions is just rubbing salt in the wound.
Even if I know the answer to something medical, I'm legally not allowed to answer it. Nor can I change your diet order to be a hamburger rather than some awful shit they made "mechanical soft." It's not my fault that the doctors think you can't chew regular food, even though you probably can't, seeing as you left your dentures back at the nursing home, and it's hard to understand you through those flapping gums. You need to realize that nurse's aides have little say in anything that goes on in a patient's hospital stay. Do us both a favor, and don't bitch me out. It's incredibly counterproductive. Once you bitch me out, do you think I'm going to answer your call bell more promptly, or less?
4. Get your family to bring in food.
Not kidding. Either go the chocolate or fruit route. Chocolate, we'll love you. Fruit, we'll love you even more because our entire diet consists of chocolate items donated by patients' families. Whichever option you choose, make sure the box or basket has a card that declares, in large print, your name, room number, and bed position (door or window, also known as bed 1 or bed 2, respectively).
Extra props go to you if you have your family bring in a large crockpot meal and place it in the nurse's lounge. Make sure to supply bowels and spoons. If you can't get out of bed to do it yourself, have your family declare "Dinnertime, on us!" and begin enthusiastically spooning out portions into bowels, church poverty program-style.
We won't forget it. And your bell will be answered in fewer than ten seconds, or however long it takes us to bolt from the opposite edge of the floor. Seriously.
5. Send a final I'm-better present.
When you leave the hospital, don't make that the end of your stay. Send some (more) food, and include a card with it that thanks every person who took care of you. Accomplish this by asking every hospital worker who comes in the room to write down their name. That way, when you leave, you'll know who was there even if you were too sick to remember.
If someone, nurse's aide or otherwise, went especially out of their way to help you out, whether by spending time talking with you, or comforting you, or even running down to the vending machine to get a candybar for you, make that person his or her own card. Write a special message inside, and sign your name.
Every aide I've known to get a card like that treasures it. Those are the ones we pull out of our lockers on bad days to read over and over again. It reminds us why we do our job- not necessarily for the money (though that helps), or the experience (though that's what really helps in the longterm), but for the people we meet.
Remember- nurse's aides don't make tips. The least you can do is make them feel appreciated.