labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Apparently Not Everyone Likes Me

I was reminded last night of an interaction I had with a former patient. It left me feeling that I lacked something, or perhaps that I was viewed as part of something was unpleasant.

I had won sports tickets through my hospital and brought along my Dad. Before the event we were given a hearty buffet brunch. There was much fanfare for those of us lucky enough to get into the events tent and the food was good. My dad and I made our heaping plates and sat at a table to eat. My hospital had also sent along a representative. This representative was a former patient.

I cared for this woman during her office appointments. I felt that I had gotten to know her well during her prenatal visits, which was something I hoped to do with all of my patients. However, this woman was a big wig of some department within the hospital and therefore made the office staff nervous. I never felt her presence as overbearing or stiff, and remember thinking that she seemed rather young and relaxed to hold such a position. I didn’t get a chance to see her during her postpartum follow up visit and never saw her again until that day at the game.

When she approached the table she was friendly and warm. My face was towards the plate (not uncommon for those of my genetics) when she approached so I don’t think she saw that I was one of the lucky ticket winners. When I did look up and say hello, I could see the look of recognition in her face. And it didn’t look good.

She tried to pretend she had no idea who I was. She introduced herself to me and my father. I said, “Yes, we’ve met when you were pregnant with you daughter.” I smiled to convey my relaxed demeanor when seeing my patients outside of the office.

“Oh,” she replied stiffly. She was suddenly very uncomfortable and seemed to be a bit upset by my mentioning her pregnancy. There was no one else at the table but my father and I, so I didn’t believe that it was because I mentioned I knew her when she was pregnant. I didn’t mention that I cared for her, so I certainly wasn’t announcing anything involved with her care or violating the precious HIPAA laws.

Normally I would have asked how her baby was doing, what milestones they reached, but her body language said it all. She did not want to talk about anything relating to my connection to her.

I think that some would say that I was taking this all a bit too personally, but I found her response quite odd. Most patients I have cared for that I run into in the outside world seem quite happy to see a caregiver associated with a cherished event in their life. Did something happen during her birth that I was unaware of? Did she feel that we failed her? What was it about me that conjured up bad feelings?

She soon left after our quick conversation. I watched as she purposely avoided the area I sat. And I still wonder what was it that was so bad?


The Baker Family said...

Could be it wasn't you at all--maybe something bad happened to her daughter and she was afraid you'd ask about it?

Anonymous said...

Hi there - I am a longtime lurker (and fan!) but have never posted a comment before.

Did the former patient mention the baby AT ALL after you mentioned meeting her during her pregnancy? The reason I ask is that it may have had nothing to do with you or your seems horrible to even type it, but perhaps she'd had some personal problems involving the baby -or the baby might even had died.

You just don't seem like the kind of nurse who a former patient would have such bad memories of.

Wabi said...

Um, do you know for a fact that her pregnancy ended in a reasonably normal manner and that her baby is alive? Healthy?

I ask because your description makes it sound like she didn't want to talk about the baby AT ALL. I think you only don't want to talk about your new baby when something unspeakable has happened to it.

Obviously I'm just guessing (and I'm hoping I'm wrong) but I think if you were the actual source of such a cold reaction, you would clearly remember what it was you did to cause it. Something else is going on there.

Anonymous said...

That's awkward. Maybe her baby is sick or deceased? That tends to make people stiffen up when they haven't figured out how to talk about it yet...

Labor Nurse said...

You all bring up some things I didn't think of. I do know that nothing had happened to her baby by the time she came in for her 6 week postpartum check-up. Perhaps something did happen after that. I hope not; that would be terrible, but it could be a good reason why she reacted the way she did.

But again, it is possible I may have said (or not said) something that turned her off. Of course I never would say or do something to purposefully offend someone, it is still possible to do.

I don't think I will ever know, but your comments thus far gave some good insight.

Anonymous said...

just wondering.. did this woman keep her baby? or could she have placed her for adoption... that would account for her behaviour. Another possibility is that you knew her when she was very vunerable, and she is not comfortable being reminded of needing someone, rather than being in control of the situation.. there is nothing like pregnancy & labor to make you feel completely out of control.... /it might not have been you at all....just what you stood for....

may said...

my first thought was the same as the rest...maybe something is worng with her baby and seeing you reminded her of that, and she was caught off guard.

Cyndi Gross said...

It could be that because she is a "big wig" at the hospital that having you see her as a patient and vulnerable might undermine her status. Women in the business world have to fight for all the "big wig" professions. Any sign of weakness might put her as an equal to all of the "little wigs" I think it's really strange how women separate themselves from other women, instead of being a united force in the work place like men do. Men have the "good ol' boys" club and that club keeps them in power. Maybe we should get a clue and start our own club where women support each other in business. I'm not sure what the club name should be...but nothing with "ol'" in it please!