One patient in particular comes to mind when I reflect on those for whom I have truly made a difference. Mr. R., diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, made even the simplest blood draw a challenge. He was slow to trust given his long-standing illness and prior experiences in psych where he was subjected to the worst types of care (the “old ways”). I worked with him daily, building a strong rapport, and soon came to be known by him as “the Queen of Hearts” (due to a scrub top I wore with multi-colored hearts). In a matter of days, I noted a change in Mr. R’s behavior -- he began to pace while holding his hands on top of his head. At first, I assessed this as a way for him to “tune out” the voices, but eventually he let me know that something was wrong. He stated “My head...there is something there...it hurts.”
I alerted the attending psychiatrist who initially believed as I had that this was a coping mechanism for his internal stimuli, but just to be safe he ordered a STAT CT. That same shift, my patient had a seizure. The CT revealed an operable tumor which was causing the symptoms. We transferred him to another facility where Gamma Knife surgery was performed and within several days, Mr. R. returned to us with a great prognosis. So when people ask why I work in the Behavioral Health field, my response is simple: I am privileged to care for patients who can’t always tell me what’s wrong, but who always trust I’ll do the right thing and help them get well.
— Barbara King, RN
Behavioral Health Unit
Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center