Five days a week, for eight hours, I tend to people sick in bed. As much as possible I try to make my care individualized, and I do this by knowing each patient’s history, befriending their watchers, memorizing what time of the day their blood pressure shoots up, and mastering how they want their medication administered, among many others.
There are patients to whom I love giving bedside care, partly because they acknowledge the work I am doing for them; there are others whom I dread. Some patients also take notice of my existence as a person and not just as their nurse: They ask about my day, my plans, etc. The hardest patients to attend to are those who cannot speak my language. In fact, I very much prefer comatose patients than others who can produce sounds but in a totally different language or dialect. Sometimes I wish I were a polyglot. Seriously.