Easter was about to arrive. At the last minute, I asked my wife and daughter if they had bunny ears I could borrow. They replied yes but they were unable to or me. Just like an Easter Egg a cunning plan was being hatched. Leftover Christmas decorations were examined and a pair of antlers were found. With the addition of cardboard, staples, and a hair tie, bunny ears had been produced out of thin air.
I wore the bunny headband for my whole workday. Anything for a laugh. The patients and their family members bore witness to my madness.
Later in the day, I met the son of one of our patients. He didn’t have clown makeup on and was of a serious demeanour. Facial tattoos adorned both cheeks. A proud member of one of New Zealand’s infamous gangs. We were both in the room because of the patient. Both of us trying to do the best for him. I tried my best not to stare at his facial tattoos. He tried his best not to stare at my bunny ears.
“Happy Easter,” were the first words I said to everyone in the room. Reading the logo tattooed on the son’s cheek I found out he was a member of team blue. I’d had a number of dealings with various members of this gang in the past. He stayed outside of the room but popped his head through the open window. I spoke to his father to see how I could help. Pain, nausea and hiccups were the main issues troubling my patient. He knew he was critically unwell and agreed with my plan to calm down his symptoms. His wife couldn’t keep a straight face as she tried not to laugh at my bunny ears. On that lighter note, I left the room.
A few minutes later our charge nurse had to go back in to talk to the patient’s son. He was smoking cigarettes on the balcony outside of our patient’s room. She asked him politely to stop smoking as it was a health and safety risk as our balcony is wooden and at risk of fire. He put out his cigarette without any comments or fuss. We have rules we have to comply with otherwise we’d be shut down.
We look after all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds, and all sorts of families. Even hardened criminals can be vulnerable when their loved ones are dying. They need to be treated with compassion and professional courtesy regardless of our own personal opinions. They want our best professional opinions when they meet us at work.