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Got foot-in-mouth disease?

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I read an article the other day about a woman who was told by her physician that she had a mass on her lung. Most likely, this mass was cancer and she would need a partial lobectomy. She asked if it was serious and he said, “Well, you probably won’t be running a marathon anytime soon.”

The woman was a long distance runner.

It made me think about how often we make comments to people about their illnesses not knowing the background of their lives. I’ve done it…I once had a patient who sustained a pretty good size laceration to her hand. I said “You might not be able to be a hand model now.” Looking back on that comment, I think, what if that had been her life goal? A little dramatic, I know, but its possible right?

Sometimes when people are out of proportion (by my standards anyway) upset about an injury, I try to imagine the worst case scenario for that person and why that might affect them so severely. Like if someone is upset about a broken baby toe. Maybe, they were going to go on a really important date that night with the man of their dreams and they were going to wear these really great new and expensive heels. Now they can’t so they are convinced this man will never love them and they will die an old lady with a hundred cats.

Hey, it could happen right?

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Rebekah Child

Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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One Response to Got foot-in-mouth disease?

  1. One Patient's POV

    You might want to consider not patronizing patients – such exaggerated responses may belittle their feelings of pain and vulnerability. No matter what the cause (even a broken toe), trauma affects people in different ways and a response of a calming nature rather than patronizing scenarios may be the best approach.