Light and love......................................
Earlier this week I had to take one of my resident's for a post hip surgery visit to the surgeon's office. I take her as her family moved to another state for employment but with her dementia deemed it better to leave her in a familiar environment until they are sure of their plans. I explained this to the surgeons office, that it wasn't as simple as making an appointment, and I would need to mail the info paperwork to the son and he would fill it out and return it to them. The only thing the person on the phone could focus on was that my resident needed to get into the doctor for her checkup yesterday.
Of course she and I arrived at the appointment, and upon going to the window and explaining (again) why I didn't have the paperwork with me (and God forbid, the all important insurance card. The numbers just aren't acceptable) I was told that without the paperwork she would not be able to be seen today and we would have to make another appointment.
I was not mean or aggressive, I did not yell or make any funny faces. I calmly told this woman that yes they were going to see my resident today and if not I would not be bringing her back. The girl started in again about policy, blah, blah, and I interrupted to ask what she would like me to do? Of course she didn't have a clue so she had to go get another person to tell me that answer.
This woman was far worse than the first one and began berating me for coming in without the paperwork. I calmly told her that the best I could do was give her the son's number and she needed to figure out how to get the info from him. After giving her the number I went and had a seat. A few moments later I heard girl number one saying, You can speak to her in a moment, first I need this information." At that point I went back up to the window so that I would be ready to take the phone. Girl number two in on fire by this time and lashes out at me that I would just need to be patient. I replied (in my sweetest voice possible) that I was not aware of being impatient with anyone, and she spat back at me, "Well you are!" Dumping a bit more syrup on my voice I replied, "I'm so sorry. I hope you can forgive me." She said nothing so I ask for her forgiveness twice more until she finally granted it to me. Then I ask if she would like me to go sit down until the son was ready to speak to me. She mumbled no so I stayed there. Then it occurred to me that I had a great opportunity for a little love experiment.
As I stood there I kept repeating to myself (but directing the words to her soul), "light and love, light and love, light and love." Outwardly she didn't change one bit, but after I talked with the son (who was upset because he had barely time to fill out the papers let alone return them. Knowing they were listening I calmly told him, "_____, we are doing the best we can to take care of your mom. I explained the issue of you being in another state, and you and I can only do what we can do. It is not your fault that much of the information was lost in your mother's head. You can only know what you know. If she is seen today, fine, if she is not seen today she will still be fine and that is our only concern.") I handed the phone back at the end of our conversation and ask girl number two if there was anything else she needed from me. She smiled at least a full half smile and said, "No." And then added, "Thank you for your help." It was all I could do not to snap my head around to see where the ventriloquist was hiding. Those words could not have come out of her mouth!
But of course they could because I bypassed her ego and saluted her soul and that was who was answering me at the end of the conversation. Made me smile for some time after the encounter.
Of course it did not keep me from discussing the behavior of the office staff with the surgeon. I told him that I had much respect for his work and I thought he was not only nice but kinda cute, but I would never come and see him if I needed surgeon after what I had just been through since I deal with him for about five minutes and the rest of the staff the remainder of my visit.
Since I did not speak with anger or nastiness, he took my feelings seriously. After we discussed my patient and he found out my background and we had a little bonding moment over a person he did surgery on and I saw for home care, he again reiterated that we would talk to the staff and explain how he would like things handled.
At the end of the visit he told me he would like to see her again in six weeks, glanced at my resident, and changed it to eight weeks. I think he got a glimmer of how difficult it is for her to go out and have to deal with a different environment and strangers. I told him that I would bring her back unless she was on hospice care (which she probably will be) and in that case I would not be bringing her back. He told me he understood and thanked me for letting him know. How hard was that human to human exchange? NOT!
What about you guys? Any horror stories along this vein that you would like to share?