Trau·ma  Junk· ie  ( 'trau-m&  'j&[ng]-kE) n. Slang
  1. One who has an insatiable interest, devotion or addiction to responding and assisting people with serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.

Patients Say the Darndest Things...

Okay, so I've heard a lot of strange things come from the mouths of confused elderly patients. Some of my favorites, and my amazing ability to translate them:

"Get that burning dog out of my bed!" (Translation: The infected incision on my knee is burning.)

"You're just a dope dealer and all the nurses are dope addicts. You sell them your stuff, keep me confined in here like a prison, and neglect me of your dope." (Translation: I didn't know you were a CNA and couldn't pass drugs, but the nurses keep giving out drugs and they won't bring me anything for pain. She was receiving 4-8mg of morphine every 2 hours on the dot, by the way.)

"I think I got my bearings mixed up." (Translation: I was trying to make it to the bathroom but I got lost and went all over the floor.)

"That twiggy tree won't stop moving." (Translation: Why are the fluids running so fast through my IV? [She was watching the NS bolus run through her IV tubing.] I impressed myself with figuring out this one.)

So, as you can see, when you work predominately on an Med/Surg orthopedic unit (where they give out all the good drugs with confusion and delirium being common side effects), you can take sentences that make absolutely no sense and figure out what the patient is saying-- or maybe this is just me?

But last night, I have to say that I dealt with the most confused patient ever, which is shocking, and I can't even try to comprehend what she was saying. Let me paint a picture:

It's around 0400. You know, the time when everyone is extremely busy doing vital signs, making the next to the last set of rounds on their patients, passing out pain pills galore, etc. A few of us are sitting at the nurse's station and we hear "HELP ME! HEELLLLPPP!!!" We knew who it was, but fearing the worst (that she fell out of bed and the staples came out of her incision) we ran down there. Guess what we found instead?

The patient unscrewed the IV catheter from the tubing, heplocked it, and stuck the tubing in her ear, still infusing normal saline, now into her ear canal. Did I mention the Morphine PCA pump? Yeah, she hit the button while that was in her ear. When I asked, "What in the world are you doing?!" (You know, we always ask this, expecting a logical answer, even though we know we won't get one), she replies, "I have a phone stuck in my ear. Can you get that phone out for me?" She then proceeds to swear up and down that her bathroom sink is the television and she is watching a show about waterfalls. Apparently, she heard her daughter's car pull up outside(on the fifth floor), and we need to take her to her real hospital room, two floors up, on the...second floor.

I suddenly found myself just about as confused as the patient was.

Do any of you have stories like this? Does this top your strangest "confused patient" story? Share it with those of us who know what you're talking about, because I know when I try to share stuff like this with my non-medical friends or family members, they either don't believe me or can't see the (sometimes cruel) humor surrounding it.

Seriously, it is pretty sad because you know that for the majority of that person's life, they made sense all the time and were totally with it. But at the same time, sometimes when you're having the night from Hell and everything that can go wrong with your patients, does, all you can do is laugh at stuff like this. Right?

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