They Made Me Put My Socks On With a Stick

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old dead peeling feetI find it interesting how the most grumpy, disgruntled people react to kind gestures. It’s been my experience that usually someone with an attitude has a pretty good reason for it. There are the occasional unhappy people who are just rude and condescending  for no reason.  But usually I find there is some sort root cause for most meaness I’ve experience in my nursing practice.

I once took care of a 80+ lady who I was almost sure I would never be able to please. Despite meeting her every request, promptly, she never said thank you, and always complained about everything. When I asked her how her night was she told me how she hadn’t slept at all, was in pain the whole time, and she was just miserable.
I knew that wasn’t so, I had been in there at least 20 times that night and she was sleeping soundly most of the night.
She had a hip fracture repair a little while before this particular admission and that seemed to be the only problem she was concerned with. In fact, I cannot even remember what she was there for on this admit. Her every complaint was about this surgery, her back, the cold, or anything else, except what her actual admission was.
At some point during the 2nd evening of her admission I removed her socks to place some TED hose that I noticed were ordered during the day. He feet were dry, peeling, and looked downright terrible. I asked her if they hurt, and she said yes. I touched her skin and the dead skin flaked off. I peeled a large piece of skin off her heel. She said she didn’t even feel it. I decided I needed to lotion her feet at the very least.

I then decided that this simply wouldn’t be enough and she needed a full on foot washing. Her eyes appeared as big as saucers as I warmed the water, soaped the wash clothes, and scrubbed her heels, toes, nails, and various cracks and creases in her skin. “You know, they made me put my socks on with a stick”, she said. I continued to wash her feet, first the left, then the right. I listened and responded with attention and concern.”They just stood there and watched me struggled. None of them ever washed my feet” she continued to tell me about her rehab experience.

I understood why they did this. I knew she had to be able to do it for herself in order to go home. However, she continued to tell me how embarrassed she was of how bad her feet looked, how concerned she was about them, and how she just couldn’t believe I was taking the time to wash her feet.
I finished washing her feet, and the pink bright new skin looked as fresh as a 20 year old’s, and I can’t even remember seeing one wrinkle on those freshly lathered and lotioned feet.

“Thank you”, she said “No one has ever done that for me before.”

“You’re welcome”, I said, as I assisted her to reposition in the bed, and placed her call light beside her, covered her up, and helped her adjust the bed.
Walking to the door I asked her, just like I do every patient “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No ma’am, you did more than anyone has.”


So if you have a post hip fracture repair patient who doesn’t seem to be pleased by anything, offer to wash her feet and see how much both of your nights improve.

Day 3 with her, by the way, was a dream.

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Comments

  1. says

    That is so awesome. I feel great after a pedicure, so I can only imagine how much better she felt. You not only helped her physically but also helped restore her dignity as well. You just never know, do you?

    • says

      Exactly.

      Most cogerty old women have at least some reason to be cogerty… or else they are doing it for sport, which I run into on occasion, and usually have them laughing and admitting they are being meanies just for the fun of it. Actually, I really like those the best I think, because when I get 80, if I want to be a mean-ass, by 80 I’ve earned it.
      I’m also so impressed by what tiny gestures can really make a difference for a person. Being a nurse has made me appreciate the little things in life more.

  2. says

    I think what happens is this: women (mostly of that era) have done so much for everyone else for all of their lives – putting everyone first for so long….then all of a sudden it’s “their turn” to be cared for and they find out that there is no one there to do those little things like they used to do for everyone else…..

  3. Sarah says

    Great post. That was so nice of you. I’m sure you made that patient’s day. I always find it amazing how grateful some patients are when you do the simplest things.

    • says

      Sarah,

      Thank you. I have found that it it usually is the simplest things that patients have appreciated the most. It usually is just the time to listen to them that they want the most. I have tried to do that as often as possible.

    • says

      JoAnn,

      Thank you.
      Working on the floor, at nights, when you often have very little help, it is sometimes very hard to give that attention. But I did try very hard to give individualized attention at every possible chance. The rewards of this effort were always great!

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