You ain’t from ’round here, are ya?

Got a new patient assigned to me last week.  Nifty little guy, eat up with the pee-new-moany-yer along with several other ailments.

My problem?  Sweet little fella ain’t from around here…and speaks not EngRish!  I take that back, he did manage a fairly good Heh-row for hello, but that was it.

And ol’ Snigs doesn’t speak a damned bit of Laotian.

Houston, we have a problem.

I’m supposed to physically assess the patient, find out what they know about their medications, teach them about their disease processes, medications and such and this little guy and I can’t even remotely communicate verbally.

So starts the pantomime.

Held up the BP cuff, put my hand around my arm and squeezed, then pointed at him.  He seemed to understand.  Went through the same routine for temperature, listening to his heart and stomach, etc… without too much trouble.  He wasn’t thrilled with having to lean forward in his chair where I could listen to his lungs.  Maybe he thought I was requiring him to bow to me?  He finally moved enough I could wedge the stethoscope behind him and listen though.

Now, how to figure out what he’s been experiencing…

Point to my own chest, then heart, make heart beat noises, then make OMG IT HURTS! face. He shakes his head.

Continue on for breathing, stomach, head, etc…

Get to the questions about urination difficulties/pain/burning/odd odor… Um, yeah. Hmmm.


Finally made the gesture of flipping it out and writing my name in the snow, then made OMG IT HURTS! face, held my nose and made the PEEEE-UUUUU face waving my hand in front of my nose, etc…

When he finished laughing, he shook his head.

After I left, I got to thinking. I’d given him a lot of “thumbs up” for things that were good- BP, heart rate, etc… I sure hope “thumbs up” doesn’t mean something ugly in Laos.

Then, on to the medications.  Thank the gods, he only had three- an antibiotic, jet neb treatments and a prednisone dose pack.

And he wasn’t taking any of them.  Shit!

Antibiotic was once a day.  He’d been home three days and had only taken one.  Finally, I drew on the bottle a big clock and circled the 8.  He seemed to understand.

Next, jet nebs three times a day.  I drew another clock and circled the 8, then realized I needed to circle the 8 twice.  Hmmm…Ok, 3 clocks this time, one with 8 circled and a picture of the sun, one with 2 circled and another sun, then a third with the 8 circled and a moon.  Once again, he seemed to understand.

Prednisone dose pack…now there was a challenge.  He’d taken one of the first day’s six pills.  This one stumped me.  Hell, dose packs are hard enough for the English speaking variety to understand, let alone someone who doesn’t speak the language.  I tried googling the translation, but had no signal to use my phone and they had no internet.  I’ve tried my damnedest to find the instructions in other languages since I left- no dice.

I guess some things are beyond my ability.  I had him take a couple while I was there, then stopped back by later that afternoon and had him take the next one.  Told him to take 2 more at supper and one of us would drop by the next day.

The next morning I went and his wife met me at the door with a big HER-ROW and maybe a smile?  She was holding that dose pack and shaking her head wildly.  She started pointing at him and growling, then punching at the air.

I *think* she was saying the prednisone was making him “mean”. 

I decided to do what any good nurse would do at that point- I called the doc and sent them to him.

HE can figure out how to explain it to them.

Sheesh.  Some days, it’s just not worth chewing through the straps.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fuzzysdad01
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:48:43

    Your an Angel, God Bless You

  2. oldnfo
    May 25, 2014 @ 21:03:42

    Ouch… Glad your pantomine skills are up to speed! 🙂

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