When you have an intensive care patient that is sedated and ventilated to care for, the constant "BING BONG" alarm sounds of the many pumps,drips,syringe drivers, ventilator and monitor can be nerve shattering to an already anxious and highly charged set of relatives and friends,
Couple this fact with the ingrained anxiety of monitor watching ( how many tv dramas have we all sat through when the hero's cardiac tracing suddenly "flatlines" with a sickening eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) and there is no wonder that most visitors often look like rabbits caught in a tractor's headlights.
Before I take any family members in to see their critically sick relative, I always give them the old "air hostess" pep talk.
In very general terms I liken a trip to intensive care to flying for the first time
New flyers will jump and panic at every new noise and bump on their first flight and will generally look to the stewardess' for reassurance and guidance.
"If the stewardess looks unconcerned and calm, there is nothing to worry about on board
If the nurse looks unconcerned when the monitor or pumps alarm, the same rules apply
Look at your nurse!"
Reducing anxiety with clear information before you face a potential trauma isn't rocket science.... in fact it was the first "research based" intervention I learnt as a a student nurse some thirty years ago....and the reason I have posted about it this morning is because of a chance meeting with a woman at the traffic lights in Prestatyn at 7am this morning!
I had just dropped Chris off at the station when I pulled up at the lights and I caught the eye of a woman in a car opposite who smiled and waved. She wound down the window and mouthed "hello" and because I looked fairly confused at who she was, she added !" I am Harry Jenkins'* daughter"
I still must have looked a little confused as although I vaguely recognised her I still could not place her
so she added just before she drove off with a hand point and a smile
"AIR HOSTESS!!! BING BONG!!! BING BONG!"
Ah one of "my relatives" I realised as I drove off.
*not his real name