Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Memo to Mr. Misogynist Q. Patient

If, when you ask if I have a sense of humor, you mean laughing when you say, "Now that I've got better blood flow, maybe I can do something with it," while I'm cleaning your catheterized penis, or joining you in denigrating your female relative's job as a way of complimenting mine, then no, I don't have a sense of humor.

Also, refrain from automatically assuming that male staff are doctors. Despite us referring to ourselves as "your nurse," you continually called the day shift nurse and I doctors. The women in the white coat with her name clearly printed on the pocket? She's the surgical resident who scrubbed in on your operation, not as you assumed, the charge nurse.

I am being a little hard on the guy. He was anxious, feeling out of control and his coping mechanism of choice was joking around. It's a much more positive mechanism than regression or somatization. It's why I gave him some slack, kept quiet, and ignored his attempts at humor. And yet, even though he "comes from a different era", you have to know that making sexual comments about the female staff is big fat no-no. By the morning, I was weary of it.

When I leave at the end of my shift, if my patients are awake and likely to be transferred out to a lower level of care that day, I sincerely wish them well. This guy, I just said, "Feel better," without eye contact. Petty, I know, but man he was grating.

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