Today, I walked into a patient's home to perform wound care. As usual, the primary caregiver was at the patient's side, but the caregiver seemed slightly "off." The caregiver was incoherent, speech was slurred, the caregiver's bubbly personality was one of anger, and cg was using neologisms. I asked my patient what was wrong and the patient stated, "I don't know [cg] has been acting like this for about 20 minutes." I scanned through the nurse library, in my brain, to see what could be causing this. Stroke? Hypotension? Hypoglycemia? I asked my patient if the caregiver was diabetic and the patient stated, "yes (cg) has sugar."
I immediately went into nurse mode. I had another family member, who was present to check the blood sugar. It was 30. I asked for instant glucose or glucose tabs. Of course, there was none, in the home. No fruit juice, no hard candies....the only obtainable carbohydrate, in the home, was honey. I advised the family to give the caregiver one tablespoonful of honey. After 15 minutes, the blood sugar was rechecked and it was 50. Another tablespoonful of honey was given. 15 minutes passed and the blood sugar was 74. I advised the hypoglycemic to eat a snack with carbs and protein, if the next meal was more than an hour away. The caregiver obliged.
I educated my, now, patient and family on hypoglycemia and advised the caregiver to speak with a physician about their blood sugar. The family was grateful that I was present. They expressed that they lacked the knowledge to get the caregiver's blood sugar, within a safe range. They'd never been taught. This is why community and public health nurses are imperative. Not only should we teach our patients, but we should teach their family members, as well. Had I come, into the home ten minutes, later the outcome for this person could have been deadly. Let's take care of each other.
.......did I mention I did all of this while performing wound care?
Your Nurse Connection
*the caregiver, in this story, granted us permission to share this experience; however, to protect the patient's identity we have not identified the gender of either party.*