"Riley*!" I tried my best stern voice as I nonchallantly galloped down the hall after my patient, "Come back here!"
Riley giggled as I grabbed the sleeve of his gown and gave a tug to turn him around and headed back towards his room.
"You caught me sneaking off!" he said, happily plodding behind me as I kept a firm hold on his gown.
"I caught you!" I responded, trying to resist the urge to laugh with him. I knew if I responded like this was a game I'd be chasing him all night.
We walked around the circle about 1 million times with a couple exploratory journeys down the hall ways and finally, Riley was ready to go back to his room. I sat him on the edge of the bed and distracted him by telling I needed him to hold my important peice of paper where I wrote my vitals. While he contemplated this grave task, I got his medications ready and brought him a glass of water.
"Swallow these," I requested, handing over a little cup filled with colorful meds.
He grinned excitedly as though I'd handed him candy and downed the cupful obediently.
"Great job!" I said happily, and we grinned at each other over the accomplishment of this task.
For a good while the rest of the evening, I had a shadow as I accomplished the rest of my nursing tasks.
While I charted, Riley stood off to the side and patiently watched. When I went into another patients room, he waited for me outside the door. if I walked down the hall to get supplies, he was right behind me.
Unobtrusive, innocent, and curious as a child, this 250lb 20 year old trailed me like a faithful puppy. If I smiled, he smiled. If I whisked hurriedly by him on a mission to get something down the hall, he whisked after me without asking any questions, only knowing that we must accomplish this task quickly!
"Riley, we need to go to bed now." I said finally
"We? Who's we? he questioned impishly
"YOU," I clarified, trying not to smile, "You need to go to bed! I am not going."
"Well, I'm not either!" he began rebelliously, "I am going to stay up and watch TV all night!"
"OK, lets go put you in bed and we'll turn on the TV!" I led the way off to his room, "You lay down there, and I'll be back in just a second to help you turn it on." I stepped outside the door.
I went back in less than 5 minutes later. Riley was asleep.
"Riley," I whispered, "I thought you wanted to watch TV!"
The peaceful face on the pillow was the only answer I got. Smiling to myself, I turned off the light and pulled the door closed after me.
Sometimes patients make you cry, sometimes they make you laugh, and sometimes they walk right into your heart :).
*Names have been changed