Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words

 

So, I realized something today. I realized how much I’ve become a part of some of my patients’ lives. I know that a pharmacist is a familiar face many people see; however, forming a bond with a patient is something special and doesn’t happen with just any patient and any pharmacist.

Today, I had a woman share pictures of her grandson’s graduation from college. She had them in a cute photo album and everything. I didn’t think anything of it until she told me she has been carrying it with her the past few times she came to the pharmacy, hoping it would be my day to work. I suddenly felt very prominent in this woman’s life and not just in a healthcare professional way. It made me smile to know that she has connected with me in such a way. It ultimately benefits her and will make the quality of healthcare she receives from me even better. I’m not saying I will treat her better than other patients, but that she will be more receptive to what I advise her to do. She will be more open to patient education that is important to share with her. And, that is a great thing.

After that, I realized that there are several other people who have made similar, more personal connections with me. I feel very privileged to be able to experience such wonderful things. Days like theseĀ  make me enjoy my job and profession even more than I already do. =)

So, what personal connections have you guys made with your patients? Patients, what personal connections have you made with your healthcare professionals? I would love to hear.

 

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Excited!

 

Quick, off topic post today. I am very excited tonight. A few other pharmacists and I have just submitted a paper for review to the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA). The project it entailed actually began when I was a student. A then fellow classmate (now fellow graduate) of mine has piloted a lot of the study. We’re all very eager to hear if it’s accepted or not. I’ll let you guys know if it’s published! ^_^

 

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Rambling on and on and on and on…

 

Both the entry’s title and the words in the picture above are things my techs have said jokingly about one of our now regular patients. It makes me angry when I hear those things. The man has severe bipolar disorder, for which he just recently started getting treatment. Whenever he calls the pharmacy, he is manic and very anxious. His phone calls can last for a long time, especially if he is worried about one of his medications. It seems like I’m the only one in the pharmacy who doesn’t mind speaking with him, though. The rambling does not bother me like it does with everyone else. In fact, I feel very bad for him. He didn’t ask for the problems he has. I am sure if he could hit a button and get rid of them, he would without hesitation. His rambling is not intentional, nor is he deliberately trying to annoy or irritate others. He is simply trying to ask questions that he, as a patient, has a right to have answered. The saddest part of it all is that he knows people don’t like when he calls–that they dread hearing his voice. Except me.

So, things have gotten to the point where he will only speak to me. Though it’s nice that he trusts me, he shouldn’t have to rely on one person to answer simple questions, such as whether his prescription is ready for pick up. I can’t understand why people get so frustrated with him. Yes, he rambles. He rambles a lot. But, all you have to do is just let him talk. I continue doing other things while I’m on the phone with him because I know most of what he’s saying is repetitive or just him thinking out loud. But, if his rambling to me for a few minutes can quiet his racing thoughts for a bit, that’s great. I don’t let it interfere with the rest of my duties more than it has to. Neither should my other techs or the other pharmacists who work there. He knows he rambles, and so he only calls on the weekends or after 6 PM on weeknights. He knows he has a problem, and he does his best to keep it from taking up our time. I couldn’t ask for anything more from this guy. He’s as good as patients come. It’s sad to me that no one else thinks so.

I think part of the problem is that other people write him off as “crazy”. They figure they’re allowed to be annoyed with him. They probably also figure he has little grip on reality. I HATE the social stigma on mental disorders. People like this man suffer every day because the people who are supposed to help them don’t. It’s not that they purposely don’t help; it’s that they write things off as part of the patients’ disorders, even when they’re not. A schizophrenic with a UTI should still be treated the same as “sane” people with UTIs. Yes, there are emotional and knowledge barriers many times, especially with the more severely mentally ill. But, you do your best to overcome them with the patient together–as a team. You don’t ignore the barrier because of the diagnosis code in their chart. If you can build a trusting relationship with your patients (“crazy” or not), you will overcome barriers much easier than if you just tell them what to do. If you can empathize with them, they will notice and appreciate it many times. Now, this isn’t fool proof. There are always people who will ignore your advice. There are always people that will be nasty. But, more often than not, being kind or empathetic leads to kindness and gratitude in return. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Going back to my original story, the man called today, and I was happy to hear that he sounded much less anxious than I have ever heard him . Still a bit edgy and talking fast, but markedly better than before. I hope the pattern continues for him. I know he wants to be more level and even-toned. Maybe, someday, he will be what society deems “normal”. I couldn’t help but smile when I got off the phone with him. =)

 

Image courtesy of http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e55/maanika/talking.jpg

Flu Shot Season Has Sprung!

 

So, flu shot season has arrived at all the big name retail pharmacies. I personally think August is too early, but oh well. As a general rule, I love giving flu shots. It’s a break in the monotony of the day and gives me one-on-one time with patients. It’s actually how I got to know a lot of my regular patients last year when I was new to my current pharmacy.

Today, I had a mother and two girls come in for their annual flu shots. I had given the mother hers last year, and she remembered me, so it was a great experience right from the start. The younger of the two daughters has autism. Though the girl is 21, her mental capacity is that of a 9-11 year old. The mother also informed me the pharmacist who immunized her last year made her scream, so she was very nervous. I knew it would be a challenge, but I decided to administer it anyway because I believe everyone who wants to should be vaccinated.

The older sister went first, which helped ease the younger girl a bit. Both girls and the mother were very sweet and friendly. When it was the younger girl’s turn, she got very nervous and was almost in tears. The mother, older girl, and I all talked her down and got her to relax her arm. The older girl held her hand. I assured her it was a tiny needle, and it would be over before she knew it. We got her to take a deep breath, and I injected her as she exhaled. I braced myself for flinching and screaming.

But, the screaming never came. The girl said she couldn’t feel the needle at all! She thanked me and gave me a big hug after I put a band aid over the injection site. It made my day! ^_^

That was probably my most gratifying and unique flu shot experience yet. What was yours?

 

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“Every Day is a Holiday!”

 

I have been neglecting my blog a bit, and I apologize. It has been so very busy at the pharmacy as of late. I have been getting home late after work most days and am usually exhausted. Again, sorry for not posting much this month.

Today’s story is about one of our regular patients. Out of everyone, he is probably the most cheerful person to enter the building. He’s always got a grin on his face and seems to make everyone, employees and patients alike, laugh and smile. I look forward to his visits. They always break up the monotony of the day. The picture above is the perfect way to describe him.

He came in with his characteristic, happy demeanor, walking toward the pharmacy and whistling a happy tune. He always takes his hat off and bows, stating, “Good morning, my fine ladies and gents! How are you all on this wonderful day?” He makes conversation with those around him and just generally lifts all of our spirits. I asked him how he keeps such a happy attitude every time he visits us, and he answered me with the title line: “Every day is a holiday!” Then, he started singing the tune from Mary Poppins (“Every Day’s a Holiday with You, Burt”), inserting his and our names in place of the word “Burt” in the song.

His visits are usually very quick, but he always thinks of something witty to say on his way out. We’re always sad to see him go. If he were to get a pharmacy report card, in the comments section I would write: “[patient name] is a joy to have in the pharmacy.” =)

I hope your days are all going swell!

 

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