Many of Mariam’s patients at Fairhaven Care Center are recovering from surgery, have arthritis, or have other conditions that result in pain. One of her responsibilities is to notice if a patient is experiencing increased or new pain.
Mariam has learned that the best way to tell if a patient is in pain is to listen to what the patient says. However, some patients won’t say anything for a variety of reasons including not wanting to become dependent on pain medication or because they don’t want to be a bother. Other patients can’t say anything because they are unable to communicate. For these patients, Mariam watches for nonverbal signs. She observes if a patient is holding him or herself in a different way, if there are changes in facial expression, or if the patient is restless or unable to sleep.
When Mariam notices that a patient might be in pain, she asks several questions:
Where is the pain located?
Is the pain new?
How frequent is the pain?
How intense is the pain?
Mariam will report all of her observations to the nurse so that pain relief efforts can begin.
Some of Mariam’s patients would rather not take medications to relieve their pain, so Mariam, with the approval of the nurse in charge, will try other methods to help the patient. She might apply heat or cold to the affected area, move the patient into a different position, give a back rub, or provide a distraction by having the patient watch TV, listen to music, or read a book.
Mariam knows that keeping her patients comfortable is one of the most important responsibilities of her job.