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