I think I’ve discovered what elderly patients feel like when everyone thinks that they’re too senile to understand the conversations around them and just talk about them as if they aren’t there. Like this …
In one emergency department, the nurses regularly talk about me in loud voices as if I’m either deaf or unable to comprehend.
Nurse 1 [to the ceiling]: This patient’s been ready to go for 6 milliseconds. Where are the discharge papers?
Nurse 2 [loudly, standing 3 feet behind me]: I don’t know. He’s still charting on the patient. I’m not sure why he can’t just print up the prescriptions and discharge instructions now and chart later.
Of course, the charting system doesn’t allow the nurses to print discharge instructions until the doctor finalizes the chart, but that’s only been the case for 4 years.
Nurse 1 [walking up to the desk directly in front of me]: Hey, has Dr. Whitecoat put in the admission orders on this patient yet?
Nurse 2 [standing right next to me and watching me enter the admission orders]: I think he’s trying. He’s not very good with computers, you know.
Nurse 1 [loudly behind me]: The patient down the hall and around the corner looks like he whimpered in pain like a minute ago. Is Dr. Whitecoat being stingy with the pain medications on your patients, too?
Nurse 2: Not yet
Dr. WhiteCoat [in crackly old voice]: Meeehhhhh. Can someone change my undergarments?
Both nurses then look at each other with furrowed brows, look at me strangely, and leave the nurse’s station.
Was someone talking about me?