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Butterball In The Facilities

I just loved Butterball…he made me laugh and taught me so much. A student nurse at the time working at a retirement home, one of the gentlemen under my care was ‘Butterball’ – coined by me after the Butterball turkey.

With glasses that filled a large portion of his face, a perfectly round belly full of ascites and a shiny, bald head, Butterball also had a killer sense of humor. He always had a smile on his face and loved to tease anyone within reach.

I carried a pager that was connected to patient call bells and every 30 mins, Butterball would ring for the facilities. Three months of this and not one trickle…he wore an adult diaper but I thought he may still be feeling the urge. I dug into all of my nursing textbooks researching urinary conditions and what might be plaguing poor Mr. Butterball. With hundreds of potential diseases at my fingertips, I decided to review the situation with my fave Nursing professor.

After a lengthy recount of Butterball’s situation, she simply offered this: Have you taken even 20 minutes to sit alongside him and just talk? If you were sitting alone in a small room 22 hours per day, everyday – what would your ‘needs’ be? There was my AHA…Mr. Butterball was lonely and just needed that interaction.

That’s when I learned that medicine is more about people and their basic needs than about diseases, medications, or equipment.

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