Communication Issues

hospital.jpg My dad is not coping well today. He likes to be a part of things and to talk with people who will listen to him. Everyone wants this, but especially my father. It has to do with being an ex-professor because R’s dad is the same way and he used to teach too. There’s something about having a captive audience for ten or twenty years that builds in a need for an audience. Or amps up the one they already had that brought them to teaching in the first place.

Let me give you an example.

My dad: [Random comment on Topic X.]
Me: I read an article in the New York Times about Topic X last week. I’ll mail it to you.
My dad: Thomas Friedman said in the Times last week that [two minutes of details on the article to which I have just referred him.]

I stop him pretty quickly. I used to just wait it out and fume because he wasn’t listening to me. It’s not that he’s not listening. It’s just that the need to tell me about it trumps irritating details like the fact that I already know about it. I think this is particularly true when he – or anyone – feels marginalized. For instance, when you’re in the hospital and helpless.

R and I have a theory that the same rule applies to those homeless guys who wheel their precariously overloaded grocery carts out into heavy traffic just as the “Don’t Walk” sign starts to count down to zero. If people look through you all day long, you’ve got to make yourself seen somehow and holding up traffic does the trick.

Anyway, last night’s shift of nurses was apparently unresponsive to my father’s questions, so he refused his pain medication because he thought it was making him sicker. He’s on so many different prescriptions that they’re not sure what’s interacting with what and causing which symptoms, so he might be right. Either way, a nurses’s job is to make the patient comfortable – and that includes psychologically. I know they’ve got a tough job and the night shift has got to be the worst, but if hospitals are going to hire underqualified assistants instead of the RNs they need, they could at least higher cheerful underqualified assistants.

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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany

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