Monday, March 10, 2014

Down Memory Lane

Maybe it was getting outside for a long walk after a winter's hibernation that did it, but I started reflecting over my years as a pharmacist, and thinking about the little incidents that stood out to me. Although I've worked in retail for quite a while, a lot of my memories go back to hospital pharmacy, where I also spent a lot of time.  Through the hundreds of med-cart checks, the thousands of orders and IV bags and crash carts and questions about "can I mix these two things in an IV?", it's interesting how certain moments stick with you forever.  My own list includes:

-- one of the first times (as a newbie) I was sent up to the bedside to talk to a patient about his potential discharge meds.  He had a tube in his throat and told me he really wasn't interested because his wife took care of all that stuff.  I didn't know what to say to him and I still wouldn't today. I felt pretty darn inadequate.

-- walking through a "Head and Neck" unit where the patients often had cancer and were sometimes terribly disfigured.  One poor guy basically had a hole where his nose should have been.  The head nurse there was an absolute angel and took care of those people like they were family.  Her name was Sandy.

-- staying several hours late after an evening shift waiting for the blood bank to deliver a bunch of gamma globulin so we could run it all into an IV bag for an emergency high-dose administration.  I had never done it before.  I walked it up to the nursing unit after we prepared it.   I still have nightmares about tripping and falling, and watching that IV bag burst and splatter all over the floor.

-- ditto with my first experience preparing a bag of high-dose methotrexate.  The oncologist was young and fairly new and I think even he was nervous to order it.  The patient was a 21-year old.

--after years of working in the basement, being transferred to a surgical satellite pharmacy on an upper floor.  I remember sitting there with the sun streaming through the window one day and feeling reborn.

--starting a new hospital job and sitting through new employee orientation, when a huge packet of "Benefits Information" would be slapped down in front of me.  I'd think Gawd, this is so borrring!
Little did we know that that kind of job (full-time! with benefits!) would become the ultimate in good fortune.

-- and finally, going on bedside rounds in a Nephrology unit.  We were visiting with an older woman -- sick, chronic, hirsute.   She said to the (very experienced and very kind) doctor, "I'm worried."  He looked at her and said simply, "I am too."   I'll never forget that one.


Anonymous said...

It's the same sort of caring. Just in a different setting. I was a geriatric nurse aide for a couple years while I was in the early phase of pharmacy school and the impression never left me that sometimes it wasn't the medication that was so vital, but that someone cared and someone understood that caring was essential.

VJ said...

Having been on the receiving end of the medicine and treatments more times than I care to think about, I treasure everyone who cares enough to show compassion and sometimes even a comforting word. The doctor's honesty is also important. Patients can take honesty better than platitudes and false words of reassurance. +