Thursday, December 23, 2010

Overheard at the VA...

At the VA (Veteran's Administration Hospital), patients still have roommates (unlike at Northwestern, where every room is a single). For whatever reason, they seem to always put the very old, elderly, confused and hearing impaired people together in the same room. This can create very funny scenarios like the one we had this morning:

Team to Patient A, let's call him Mr. J:
"Good morning, sir. How are you feeling this morning?"

Patient B, Mr. J's roommate, who is NOT on our service and we are not there to see:
"Doing well. Who are you? Why are you here?"

Mr. J: no comment

Me to The Roommate: "Hi there. We're actually here to see your roommate, so I'm going to close this curtain to give you some privacy."

The Roommate: "Okay"

I close the big thick curtain so now The Roommate can no longer see us or Mr. J.

Meanwhile, my intern is trying to examine Mr. J. She's trying to listen to his lungs, so she says "take some deep breaths, sir". Mr. J does not comply.

The Roommate on the other side of the curtain yells "What? Who's that? You want me to take some deep breaths? Okay."....cue in loud exaggerated breaths. Then a few seconds later...."What are you guys doing over there?"

Meanwhile, Mr. J who is really hard of hearing is still not breathing for his exam. So, one of our trusty medical students gets right in his line of view and models how to breathe deeply for him.

The Roommate: "Oooooh, papa, why are they ignoring me?"

Intern to Mr. J: "Deep breaths"

Mr. J: no comment and no deep breaths

The Roommate: "I am breathing deeply deeply, dammit! What are you doing over there?"

Mr. J: no comment and no deep breaths

The Roommate: "Hello? Hello?? Hello!!!"

Finally, Mr. J takes some good breaths, we finish our exam, say goodbye to Mr. J, open the curtain, say goodbye to The Roommate and move on to whatever awaits us in the next patient room.

Yup, that's my life.


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I work in a pt clinic and we have many stories like this:) love it!

  2. Hehehe. I used to work in a hospital that had shared patient rooms and we would try to place patients with dementia in the same room, thinking they wouldn't disturb one another as much as they would if each was placed in a room with a patient who did not suffer from dementia.

    One day we had two patients sharing a room, and they spent the entire day hollering at one another:

    Lady #1, "I don't know what to dooooo!"
    Lady #2, "Shut UP!"
    Lady #1, "I don't know what to dooooo!"
    Lady #2, "Just shut up!"

    They went on like this for TWELVE HOURS!!!

    When the families visited, we found out that lady #1 always yelled about not knowing what to do, and lady #2 said "shut up" in some fashion for hours every day, even if she was alone. So, they weren't having any sort of conversation - it was complete coincidence!