Me: I’m not qualified to translate. I can barely order dim sum.
Nurse: It’s fine, just ask him what his chief complaint is.
Me: Don’t you have translators?
Nurse: Yes, but sometimes they are not available right away and we have to phone them.
Me: alright, fine, I’ll do my best.
Me: asking patient, do you speak or understand English? Zero. Great. Me, apologizing for only knowing how to speak a little. Why are you here?
(Back and forth between him and the nurse…) he’s had chest pain for two months but this morning woke up with spasms that lasted a few hours, and possible unrelated his left foot is swollen. Two years ago, he had head trauma, maybe a stroke. Lots of coughing.
Nurse: ask him what color is his mucous? Phlegm?
Me: I don’t know those words in Chinese. Doing my best acting, coughing and pretending to spit – I got the point across.
Off he went to get x-rays…
The Physician’s Assistant asked me if I was in school, I replied, sort of. I’m finishing my pre-reqs to apply to graduate nursing school. He said, so you want to be an NP. Me: yes.
I realize I have been talking about what I have been doing for the last year as a warm up to school. I am in school but it’s just the beginning to real school. I attended a info session at UCSF today and I remember attending this same info session a year ago and upon leaving thinking to myself, I can’t put myself through that many pre-req’s. In August, a year and half later I will be ready to apply.
The UCSF program in the first year, you are doing a BSN in one year, then the following two years focusing on your specialty. The director said before entering that first year, make sure you have everything in order, housing, finances, because life will be hard. I can’t imagine trying to do 4 years of a BSN in 1 year, but that’s what I am planning to do.
The Physician’s Assistant, let’s call him, C. was so kind to me. When I walked into the room, he instantly let me help splint a patient’s arm and shared how to read the x-rays. I was so excited when he said which bone was broken and I knew it from anatomy. He shared other xrays from another patient in the ER and they were so incredible to look at, very colorful and informative. I had never seen a 3D scan before. The elbow was dislocated, clearly showing the two bones misaligned. The bone looked upside down. I might have been viewing the scan incorrectly or the person’s bone was upside down.
I also wheeled a patient to the pharmacy which was quite difficult. One of the elevators was broken so it took a long time to arrive. I realized if you can walk, you should take the stairs and leave the elevator to those who need it. I wheeled him to the pharmacy and there wasn’t much clearance down the aisles to manuever and the counters were tall for only a standing person. The counters could have been lowered and the aisles could have been wider to be accessible. Then when I wheeled him out the front door, the curb was not lowered at the entrance. I thought it absurd that these errors could be at the hospital. It must be very difficult for someone in a wheel chair to navigate the walk abled world.
When I returned the nurse wanted me to get a sandwich for her, but C. intervened and said I want her to watch me with a patient. He was going to remove an ingrown toenail. Nice save, I get to watch up close. The nurse put all the supplies at bedside and I got to watch and hand him supplies. He shot the toe with a numbing agent and used bicarbonate as a buffer (which I said was cool) because we were just talking about bicarb this week in Physio class. He said he was using bicarbonate with the numbing drug because the numbing drug was very acidic and mixing the two would make it hurt a little less. After 5 minutes, he basically took a pair of scissors to the toe nail and cut a portion off. Interesting that there was not a lot of blood. He then applied silver nitrate to the wound and asked the nurse to apply the dressing. She was grossed out. I thought it was so cool, especially knowing the silver nitrate was applied to prevent bacterial growth.