Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feel-Good Times At Feel Better Hospital

I can do this! No problem....
     Oh, the journey my volunteering work has taken me on! I was soooo hoping to volunteer on Labor and Delivery at Feel Better Hospital. It has not happened yet, nor do I think it ever will. The nursing director is a tad, well, spacey, and the nursing staff has no idea how useful a volunteer can be. One nurse told the volunteer coordinator, "Volunteers can't answer phones!" Oh, really?! What have I been doing all those years with that longish, rectangular thing that goes "brrring! brrring!" and when I hit "talk" someone's voice is heard through those little holes on the top of it?! Their loss, really. The painful part of the whole equation is the call I made to the volunteer coordinator at the hospital  (with a similar patient population) across town to see if and how they used volunteers on their labor and delivery ward. What she told me almost made me cry and salivate at the same time. It is truly remarkable and caters to volunteers with an interest in midwifery. Ohhh...sigh...if only it weren't the hospital that Julia was born at  and where Dr. XYZ works, I'd be there in a heartbeat.
However, after working on  your unit, I might be tempted to do this....
    Alas, it is not to be.
    However, the ebullient, charismatic director of nursing in Telemetry at FBH does have a vision for volunteers on her unit. And so, that is where I've been for a couple of hours on weekends. What adventures! Because of HIPAA, I'll provide rough sketches of some scenarios I've come across:
-the mind-numbingly exhausting deaf woman who was criticizing my sign language acquisition skills as she taught me how to finger spell my name....("No! You put your thumb up like this!")
-the food guy telling me that, in order to get mayonnaise and lettuce for my poor patient who's lunch never arrived, the nurse had to place an order into the computer...("You're new here, aren't you?" Well, it's more that I haven't figured out how to steal the tiny packets of mayo yet! "Where are the condiments, by the way?")
-taking the opportunity to distract a drug-seeking, demanding patient's wife to a smoking break, only to find myself pushing this wheelchair-bound woman around the hospital for someone with a lighter...
-singing hymns with an elderly "psych" patient loudly and cheerfully, and then having her ask me, "Are you black?" "Well, um, no. I'm white, last time I checked. When I tan, I get a little browner, but I'm still white."
-Hearing my poor mayo-starved patient heartily laugh at my comment about the "relationship" I had with mustard ("scant and rarely used") as I spread condiments on her sandwich that FINALLY included mayonnaise
-telling two bored, pesky patients, one of whom was bugging the nurse and doctor, that I'd take them down for a smoking break, but that they'd "better be good!" or they'd get me fired. "Oh, no, we'll be good!" And they were.
-Seeing a nurse smile and look at me, saying, "You're sweet" as I helped a man sit upright to eat his food
-Hearing a nurse say to me, "Thank you so much for your help. I told the nursing supervisor about you. You did so much more than I thought you would."
-Telling a patient that I didn't have a business card, as she requested, because "I'm just a volunteer." "Oh no, you're a lot more than a volunteer. Thank you so much for helping me today."
-Hearing many patients say, "You've been so sweet and helpful. Thank you so much." And really believing that they meant it.
-Leaving at the end of my short time each week, exhausted, spent, educated, and satisfied. Helping people in practical, tangible ways REALLY FEELS GOOD.
    Now, if I could just find a way to help pregnant women, their families, and the nurses that care for them....