Down in the shower. A special patient-nurse relationship.

My patient was enrolled in an ALS study and his deteriorating condition severely limited his ability to continue attending regular visits to the clinic.

One morning I arrived at his home and noticed the door slightly ajar and a note that read, “Come on in.” This was somewhat unusual. Normally my patient would be sitting in his wheelchair at the kitchen table waiting for me and we would have our normal coffee, slow chat, and blood draw. This time he was not there. I sat down my bags and called his name. His wife appeared from a room and said, “He’s waiting for you in the bathroom.” Puzzled, I walked through a dim hall to the bathroom. I could hear shower water running. The door was closed. I firmly knocked on the door. I heard a very weak moan. I slowly opened the door peeked around the corner and saw my patient on the floor of the shower. He had fallen. As I started to call for help he tried to tell me no. His condition limiting his ability to speak. He was always a proud man. He had not wanted his wife seeing him in such a vulnerable state. But it was okay for the nurse to see. So he waited for me, his nurse, and for God knows how long. I helped him to his wheelchair, dried him off and dressed him.

As I rolled him out to the kitchen where we would normally conduct all of our visits. His eyes were filled with tear of gratitude as were mine. The patient-nurse connection we established throughout my time as his nurse will never be forgotten. This kind of connection and trusting relationship is what I seek to establish with everyone of my patients.