You place your groceries on the belt, the clerk asks you, "How are you today?"
You respond, "I'm fine, how are you?"
The dam suddenly bursts without warning, and the clerk unloads too much information about her long shift ahead, plans for the weekend, and opinion about healthcare reform.
"What just happened," you ask yourself. I did not expect you to give me a genuine answer about how you feel, and I don't think I have the energy or time to engage.
I smile and do my best. I am tired of the sound of my own voice so I give brief responses.
Cue the "have a great day," and leave.
Upon greeting patients at the door to our PACU, I have quickly learned that "How are you this morning," isn't appropriate for our initial greeting...for any patient, and even more so, our mentally ill patients.
They are probably tired, hungry, irritable, in pain, or all if the above!
Our colonoscopy patients have been purging their poor bodies for hours, the pain patients can barely walk, and our psych patients...well, there's a variety of ailments.
I've settled on "It is good to see you this morning" or "I am happy to meet you."
Truly, that is my most genuine answer. I chose to wear my scrubs because I want to greet these patients and help them to the best if my ability.
Let's save the formalities and be honest with each other.