A few extra minutes

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 51, No. 4, May 2009, Page 150 Letters

Recently I related to a retired doctor an incident that happened to my dad, and he suggested I write to the BC Medical Journal about the situation. My dad was a senior with a brilliant mind and full hearing, but he was blind. He had ret­initis pigmentosa. He was night blind at age 14 and totally blind by age 58.

When he went into the hospital for heart surgery he had some experiences that could have been avoided with more thoughtfulness on the part of the staff.

Food would be brought to his bed table and later would be picked up un­touched. “Sir, were you not hungry?”

Dad would reply, “Oh, is there some food for me? I smelled it, but didn’t know if it was for another patient...” Please, talk to your patients. Let them know what is about to happen.

At another time, the specialist came to ask if he had been up to walk around yet. Now, how could he walk around in a strange hospital setting if no one took the time to take him and explain to him where things were in the room and how to get to a hallway? He needed someone to take the few extra minutes to walk with him.

The opposite situation can happen with a deaf patient. If they are not blind, take the time to look directly at them when you are talking. They can often lip-read.

My dad was a very dignified person who would daily wear a dress shirt and tie even after retirement. Blindness was difficult for him. Hospital stays were added trauma. Amazingly, he had a very positive outlook on life and was an inspiration to many.

I know that everyone can be very busy with their workload. But a few extra minutes of your time can save added stress and more difficult stays for the patients in your care.

—Judi Vriend Matthews

Judi Vriend Matthews,. A few extra minutes. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 4, May, 2009, Page(s) 150 - Letters.

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