Forming Relationships With Respiratory Therapists
As a child asthmatic, I got to know my respiratory therapists. Two therapists I met in 1980 are still friends to this day. In fact, they were helpful in me getting my current job 20 years ago. They are now co-workers. Well, one is retired now. The other is now my boss. They are both my friends.
Over the course of those 20 years, I have formed many relationships with many patients. It’s kind of an unexpected way to meet people, yet it happens. It makes the job so much easier. And it’s certainly nice for the patient when they know they’re among friends.
It’s been really busy at the hospital I work for. There isn’t much time for chumming with old friends. Yet, I was aware that Bill, my favorite COPDer, was in room 6. I had a minute, so I walked into his room. He was lying in semi-fowlers coolly watching the TV.
“Yo!” I say as I enter Bill’s room.
“Hi, John,” he says with a smile. “How’s it going?”
“You having trouble breathing again?” I ask, knowing what the answer will be. Bill is one of our regular COPDers. He’s one of our favorites. I pull up a chair beside his bed. We talked as old friends talk. We caught each other up, as the old saying goes.
“You have a breathing treatment?” He asked after a half hour had passed.
“Nope!” I said, “I just came by for a visit.”
“Glad you did, buddy,” he says, with a smile. “Glad you did!”
“Anything I can get for you?” I ask as I move the chair back into the corner of the room.
“Nope! I’m good for now. Thanks. Come by later if you have time.”
“I will,” I said.
And so it goes. Who knows how long I’ve known Bill. It’s possible it’s been 20 years. But, I’ve seen him so often that I KNOW him. I know he has a company. I know he loves what he does. And I know he’s had to step back and let his kids do more. I know he has four GREAT kids.
He knows just as much about me.
When you know people like this, it makes it less of a job. And when you know your caregivers, it makes it easier to play the role of patient. In fact, Bill even eluded to this when he relayed his experience at another hospital. He said, “It’s so much better here where everyone knows me.”
And I know that. I was the regular patient once, so many years ago. I was a "bad" asthmatic as a child. I remember coming in short of breath. I’d see familiar faces. I’d hear them talking about familiar drugs to make me feel better. And all along I was among friends.
I remember one EMT. He would sometimes play the role of respiratory therapist. He would make me laugh. He was funny. Twenty years later I was privileged to have him as a coworker. And, yes, he remembered me. And he was still funny.
So, it’s no fun needing healthcare services. It’s no fun when you can’t breathe. But, when you’re among friends, that kind of takes some of the edges off. It makes it not so bad. It makes your stay more comfortable.
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