From time to time I have a patient that speaks only Spanish. I don’t speak much Spanish, so the time I spend caring for those patients tends to be quiet or filled with frustrated attempts on either side to make needs known. Without fail however, there has always been common ground provided by pop culture.
For instance, after almost an entire shift of barely communicating with one gentleman, I motion that I need to plug in his IV pump, as the batteries were running down. The bright light of understanding appeared in his eyes as he enthusiastically sang “Plug eet eehn, Plug eet eehn!” Thank you Glade!
Another example, I tried to communicate to a man on strict bed rest to use the handheld urinal if he needed to urinate. I held it up and said “el bano”- Spanish for “bathroom”. His eyes got very wide and frightened and in perfect English asked, “Number one or number two?”
Thank you, moms everywhere!
Lastly, I cared for a blind Spanish speaking woman. Even though I placed the call bell in her hand, she preferred screaming her requests. One day I heard her screaming “senorita, necesita caca!” meaning “miss, I need to #*&$!!” Thank you cussing guy in Spanish class!