More Tales from the Hospital Ward: Echoes of a slapped face

I love my job – the practical aspect of it.  I hate the politics and the bickering and the bitching but I love the hands-on, front line part of it.  Every day I meet a diverse range of patients.  Some are grumpy, some are scared, some are even flirtatious but most of them are really nice and very interesting.  

In my Phlebotomy role, I get the same old tired jokes every day about Dracula’s daughter and vampires etc. but I just laugh and pretend it’s the first time I’ve heard them.  And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given a re-run of the famous Tony Hancock’s Blood Donor sketch.

And here’s a funny one for you – such are the daily challenges of my high-pressure job that the other day I was smacked across the face by a kindly old dear who lulled me into the false belief that she was a sweetly serene old lady . . . Hello dear, what a pleasant girl you are.  Yes, of course you can do a blood test.  You’re all doing such a wonderful job.  What would we do without you angels?

So far, so good but as soon as that needle went in, up came her arm and . . . slap . . . right across my face!  Hey, get that thing out right now you cheeky young madam!  How dare you!

Of course the slap didn’t hurt a bit.  She was a tiny, frail old lady.  And calling me a young madam might have helped soften the blow but I have to say, it was a bit of a shock.  Yes, I was quite literally gob-smacked.  I haven’t been smacked across the face since I was about ten years old when my dad heard me call my brother a puff.  I remember it clearly.  I thought he wouldn’t hear me because he was snoozing in his armchair.  Even when he got up and came towards me I still thought I’d got away with it – I thought he was getting up to switch TV channels (no remote controls in them dark days) but nope, just like the potty old dear from the ward, he was cunning.  He got up without even looking at me, then in a flash, his hand struck me right across the chops.  Bloody git didn’t even give me a fighting chance to dodge him. 

Anyway, as I was saying about the cross old dear on the ward, apart from being slightly shocked and swiftly put in my place, I was none-the-worse from my little smack.   My colleague advised me to fill in incident form but I said it was ludicrous to waste time on such administrative excesses over a simple slapped cheek which I probably deserved anyway.  She was confused and I’m sure that in her healthy state, she would never dream of doing such a thing. 

But whatever shape or size, I love all the patients, from the grumpy to the pleasantly puddled.  Sometimes, they’re only grumpy because they’re anxious.  But for all their individuality and their differences, the one thing all patients have in common is their vulnerability – their dependence on our skills to take care of them and reassure them.  And as health care workers we should always remember and respect this.  From consultants to auxiliary nurses, as health care workers we are there to be compassionate care-givers and and a friendly bedside manner can make a world of difference to the patients experience.



11 responses to this post.

  1. EarthPal, I agree with your colleague. You should protect yourself. A “kindly little old lady” who slaps is likely to also accuse. And heaven only knows what of.

    We live in a world where people don’t think twice before hurting each other. You dismissed this incident because you are the kind one.


  2. Yes Helen, you make a good point and I should report incidents but this particular lady suffred from dementia and I just didn’t have the heart to report such a minor thing. No action would have been taken against her, rightly so and I didn’t want to make a fuss. Of course anything more serious I wouldn’t hesitate to report.


  3. I can tell I had to endure excruciating pain during part of the implant, because it seems I am not very positive to local anaesthesia. I had to tighten my jaws and urge the surgeon to go on with the thing. The nurse realised this and tried to stop the op but I decided it was better to end it all as quick as possible. I had already been on the table for three hours.

    What I told the nurse afterwards was that my mother would not have permitted me to curse even in that situation. A timely curse sometimes helps. A slap never does.

    I must say here that the professionals at the hospital were really charming and helping, without exception.


  4. My brother works in hospitals as a surgeon. The stories he comes out with sometimes border on the bizarre. Human behaviour gets challenged in difficult environments like hospitals. Many patients aren’t wishing to be there after all.

    Earthpal, you coming out in your new avatar!?


  5. Goodness Jose! That must have been terrible to endure. I wouldn’t have been so brave.

    Matt, you’re right. Anxiety and being in pain can make us do or say things that we would never do otherwise.

    Yes, t’is me coming out but I’m going back in soon because I’m shy. :blush:


  6. You shy …. me thinks not! 🙂


  7. Babetastic EP! 🙂


  8. Babetastic. I like that. Sounds like something that Austin Powers would say. Lol.


  9. Glad you took it in the spirit it was meant. I did wonder if I’d get myself ostracised for cyber-stalking 🙂


  10. Drat! And there was I thinking it was a compliment. Lol.


  11. Phlebotomy training is one of the best ways to enter the medical field. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of sales pitches in our informative guide that protects you from…phlebotomy classes


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