Hospital Advice - Attentiveness

Finding myself in the hospital again, this time to help care for my grandmother (from my fathers side, Amelia), I reflect, my knowledge of dealing with such situations has grown.

From my earlier years of joining my grandmother (from my mothers side, Lupe) to visit my uncle Jaime I learned attentiveness to the patient is key to their recovery. Lupe's stories of her battles to maintain my uncles health when he first became sick as a 15 year old, helped bolster the visual lessons I unknowingly assimilated. Noticing minor changes in breathing, visual focus, or vocalization all provide an avenue to better serve your loved one. With experience it becomes easier to discern the difference between a benign vocalization from a auditory complaint about something specific. Typically I have found if there is a change in breathing, visual focus, or vocalization, taking a moment to think of the possible manors your loved one can be experiencing discomfort, will help in providing a speedy solution and maintain their level of comfort.

When I first entered the ICU room, my grandmother, Amelia, was visibly different. As different as you would expect when a person you love has their faculties diminished to a fraction of what you new them to have. My grandmother suffered multiple heart attacks that culminated in a paralyzing stroke, or so I was told. Before I could be stunned by grief I began to take stock of her capabilities by first addressing her. I greeted her as if we were meeting under normal circumstance. In doing so, I gathered she had some ability to communicate, which faired well for my following questions. "Tiene dolor?" (Do you have pain?) to which she answered by wagging her whole hand and outstretched index finger back and forth vigorously. She still had much strength. "Esta comoda?" (Are you comfortable?) she outstretched her hand and tilted it back and forth. Her answer? A hand gesture of "Mas o menos"(So so). After, a few questions concerning her comfort and hand gestures in disagreement, "Tiene frio?" (Are you cold?), "Tiene calor" (Are you Hot?), "Le muevo las almohadas?" (Should I move your pillows?), etc. at last we settled on stretching her legs. The stroke left her mostly immobile but not without feeling. The action of stretching her legs appeared to comfort her. While helping with my tio Jaime I learned a technique, passed down by PT's to my grandmother to me,  to stretch out motionless legs. I applied the technique. "Se siente papachada?" my uncle asked her while I stretched her. She craned her finger back and forth in the affirmative.

Ask, engage, communicate.


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