(we referred to the patients we took care of as “residents” since most of them lived there, so don’t be confused when you see the term “resident” in the conversation set up)
Resident: (yelling- which was her norm, she had severe dementia and frequently called out) God! God! Help me! God!
Me: He hears you, and I hear you. You’re yelling.
Resident: (In a regular speaking voice) No I’m not. I don’t hear anything!
Me: I do. You’re calling out very loudly.
Resident: I don’t believe you. (continues to yell despite inquiries into what she needs. Apparently she only needs God and he wasn’t answering- I had CNA’s who used to pretend they were God and talk back to her from behind the bedside curtain. I asked them not to, only because I didn’t feel it was respectful of the patient, OR God, and it was just kind of sad).
Me: I’m afraid you’re going to worry the other residents with your yelling. It’s Sunday, let’s use our reverent voices.
Resident: (Continues to yell even louder) GOD! GOD! Where are you?! God!
Me: God hears us better when we use quiet voices.
Resident: (In a more hushed, quiet tone) God, God. Help me, God.
I needed to hang an antibiotic for a patient who was sleeping. Not wanting to startle her and risk her pulling her arm away while I was flushing the line or attaching the med that could possibly pull the IV out I gently woke her up and explained what I was going to do. I stopped talking, and started wiping the IV port with alcohol before I flushed it and she opened her eyes, looked at me and said, “You have beautiful teeth”. I thanked her and thought it was remarkable that she could know that when I wasn’t smiling or speaking to show my teeth when she finally opened her eyes and looked at me.
(This conversation is also about teeth, but it’s a different day with a different resident. I find teeth are a common conversation topic among the elderly and confused…maybe because they don’t have theirs anymore)
Resident: You have beautiful teeth.
Me: Thank you!
Resident: Yes, yes, and you know what? You need to go to the dentist!
Me: I do?
Resident: Yes you do. Your teeth are awful.
Me: Oh no, they are? They’re all messed up huh?
Resident: Yes, you need to go to the dentist.
Me: Ok, I will
Resident: You will? Where will you go to the dentist?
Me: Just around the corner here.
Resident: Where? I want to go around the corner to the dentist.
Me: I’m not really going to go to the dentist. I was just pretending.
Resident: You lied to me?
...A few minutes later with the same lady...
Resident: Well, you’re all smiles.
Me: Yes I am!
Resident: (Suddenly switching to a severely scolding tone) Well you’d better stop it.
Me: (Smile instantly replaced with a very sincere looking face) Ok, smiles gone. No smiling.
She nodded her approval and I had to walk away so she wouldn’t see me laughing.
Resident: You’d better study. You need to study the book.
Me: Which book?
Resident: You know which book.
Me: I do?
Resident: Yes you do. And you’d better say your prayers.
Me: Ok, I’ll say my prayers.
I heard a couple female residents calling out for help and found a confused male resident was trying to go into their room, and they didn’t want him in there. I figured he mistakenly thought it was his room so I tried to re-direct him.
Me: Hi there Mr. __ .You can’t go in there. That’s not your room. Your room is this way. Watch out.”
I had to tell him to watch out for the door as I closed it because even though I pulled him back he rolled right back to go in and was reaching for the door handle with his hand. I got the door closed and stood in front of it and again told him it wasn’t his room and I’d show him where his room was.
Resident: Open that door.
Me: I’m sorry I can’t. This is the ladies bedroom, they don’t want visitors today.
Resident: You open that door or I’m gonna shoot you.
Me: That’s not very nice.
Resident: Do you really think I’m gonna shoot you?
Me: (looking him right in the eye) No. I don’t.
The resident looked at me with a steady unsmiling glare like he really did want to shoot me, raised his hand in the shape of a gun and pulled an imaginary trigger 3 or 4 times at my head, said nothing else and wheeled away in his wheel chair.
I came in to bring a paranoid delusional resident a glass of water and to see if I could calm her down because nursing had just gone in to take care of her and left her in a yelling fit…which was her norm. No matter how nice you were to her or what you did anything more than dropping off her food tray and she thought you were evil as soon as you walked in the room. If you gave her medicine or tried to give her a bath she would send you right to hell if she could. “Dirty rotten criminal” was a familiar refrain echoing out of her room.
Resident: (indignant) I thought I got rid of those kinds of people! I thought they were gone! I didn’t know she worked here still, those dirty rotten criminals! I thought I was done with them! Unless they came back when they sold this place to the Mormons. Are you a dirty rotten Mormon?
Note: our facility was recently bought and owned by a corporation run by Jewish men. And I AM a Mormon.
Me: ...uhhh, well, I’m not dirty or rotten...
Resident: Get out of here! Leave me alone, you dirty rotten criminal! Leave me alone! Get out!
Usually most of our residents were 75+, but this resident was much younger, which makes this conversation that much more interesting, and my favorite of the few I wrote down.
Resident: (Excitedly, talking to me as if she was recognizing an old friend she hadn’t seen in a long time) HI!!
Me: (I didn’t say anything at first. I looked at her confused because I had just spoken with her not even 2 minutes before about how she had a good nap and that she was feeling giddy. I thought it was weird when she said she felt giddy a couple minutes before because to me it looked like she was still sleepy from the nap, but now she was up and the giddiness was apparent. I was still confused with the new and enthusiastic greeting of “Hi” though, considering I just left her room a moment before and she was talking like it was the first time she’d seen me all day). Hi
Resident: Are you getting ready? We’re going to rendezvous at Red Lobster.
Resident: Remember? We synchronized our watches 10 minutes ago. We’re rendezvousing at Red Lobster. It’s going to be a great time. Remember? We synchronized our watches.
Let it be known: Neither one of us was wearing a watch nor had there been any conversation about watches, Red Lobster or rendezvousing anywhere. I really thought she was playing a joke but it went on:
Me: Oh man, I’m going to have to miss out on that one tonight.
Resident: You can’t make it? That’s too bad; it’s going to be a great time.
She walked off, but returned a couple minutes later back at the nurses’ station.
Me: (again?? What is going on?) Hi.
Resident: Will you come with me?
Me: Where do you want me to go?
Resident: To my room.
Me: What do you need?
Resident: I just want you in there with me.
Me: (okaaaayyy) Aww, that’s nice. I’ll tell you what. Maybe later I’ll come in for a little visit and see how you’re doing.
Resident: (with her eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas) And you’ll be my special friend?
Me: (what the heck???? Internally kind of freaking out not sure what she means, but outwardly responding politely) Yeah, I’ll be your buddy. (I was NOT going to use the term “special friend”)
Resident: Ok, and hey, even though you have to miss out on what we were talking about earlier, you should still come by tonight. We’re going to the Caribbean.
Me: Oh really? (So hard to keep a straight face talking to her)
Resident: Yeah, and we’re going to have virgin daiquiris every night. It’s going to be so much fun.
Resident: (starts walking off and calls back over her shoulder) And don’t forget to bring Charlie!
Me: Who’s Charlie?
Resident: (stops and thinks) Oh, you know. Every time I see someone pulling a bundle behind them I always call it Charlie.
Me: (What the…??)
Resident: (Laughs and walks off again calling over her shoulder) Don’t forget to bring your hubby!