If anyone wants to talk, I'm usually more than happy to listen. Whether it's a stranger on the train or a nurse complaining about what happened on their last shift. I might not always know what to say, but I can nod and listen. So, I'm humbled that patients feel like they can talk to me.
It's difficult though, to give patients that time. I want to listen to what people have to say and I want to listen properly not whilst flicking through the observation chart to see if they've spiked a high temperature over night or studying the fluid chart to decide whether their urine output is ok.
A patient, with a complicated history, was telling me how his pain had evolved and the different doctors he'd been to see and the different specialists who were involved in his case. It became quite a long winded story. I knew he would get to the end and it would all make sense, but in that moment I couldn't help but think of all the things I had to do. I really wanted him to get to the point a bit faster, so I could know the outcome. I could tell he enjoyed telling a good story. It probably wasn't in him to be blunt. I felt so guilty, because I imagine throughout the whole day, he'll probably only get a small amount of time with a doctor. And here I was, trying to rush him along so that I could rush off to the next one. I'm trying to get better at moving people along. Some people have a way of going over the same things repeatedly and I have to structure the conversation so that we're not covering old ground. And sometimes I actually struggle to get a word in.
And if I had more time, I wouldn't mind listening. I know every patient has had a different journey before coming into hospital. It's just the longer I spend here, the less time I can spend with someone who is really unwell. The reality is: the chattier ones are more likely to be the ones who are well. The ones who are silent, or gasping and clutching onto their oxygen masks, won't make much noise and they're the ones that need that time.