My patient diary is one of my most treasured possessions. They are designed as a tool for staff to document information during a patients stay such as who looked after the patient, the weather and what the patient might have done on a particular day. It can also be used by families who can add entries to help their loved one.
However, I feel they are so much more than a diary.
I was very lucky that my nurses wrote in my diary in detail. From the moment I arrived, almost every day was documented, to the point where I could actually picture everything that happened on a particular date when I read my diary months later. Each entry was written with emotion and feeling. Even though I was in a coma, my nurse wrote to ME and it was only months later when reading it back to myself, that I realised how unbelievably significant this was. My nurse had the empathy and compassion to take the time to write these words with such feeling – She didn’t have to – she was most likely incredibly busy and could’ve scribbled just a few words to describe the weather but instead, she painted a picture.
This is one of my favourite entries – After 3 unsuccessful attempts, my breathing tube was finally removed. I can hear the joy and happiness in her voice, she sounds genuinely excited and happy!
Further entries by different nurses also carry a similar level of detail………….
From this entry I think I’ve been able to identify this night and it was awful! Reading this alongside my therapy has really helped to fill in some of the gaps in my memory, even though I was still battling Delirium at the time.
And this entry was when I was coming towards the end of my ICU stay. I remember the hair wash and bed bath because It felt amazing!! I think I also remember the nurse asking around for nice shower gel and a hair dryer – but that could’ve been my Delirium! My nurse made me feel human and alive and It was at this point that I knew I might actually survive.
The point I’m trying to make is that patient diaries shouldn’t be seen as something that ‘just gets given’ to a patient and written in only when it’s thought about. They should be seen as an important tool. Mine, combined with my ICU psychological support, has helped me immensely to understand different parts of my journey but more importantly, it’s helped me start to work out what happened in the real world and what happened in Delirium world. For me, my diary exists as a reminder of how far I’ve come, how I fought and won and more importantly, what I’m capable of achieving in the future.
In the front of my diary it says ‘The diary……..will tell a story of what has happened…….whilst in Intensive Care’ and It’s done exactly that.