First Crying Patient
Last week in clinic, I had my first experience with a crying patient. She had been dealing with low-back pain for a few months when she finally decided to see the doctor. Turns out she had an L4-L5 herniated disc. I guess her interaction with the doctor wasn't very helpful, so when she came to PT, it was the first time anyone had actually sat down with her to explain the prognosis.
The patient stocks shelves at a local grocery store, so the physical demands of her job have obviously left her unable to work. My CI explained to her that she probably wouldn't be getting back to work by the end of the month, which I don't think she was expecting. She didn't start crying then, but I could tell that she was really upset.
I took her through her exercise program, and in the middle she completely broke down. I felt helpless. I haven't learned about herniated discs or their recovery time yet, and I felt like I had absolutely nothing to offer her. I honestly didn't feel comfortable telling her anything because I was afraid that I would say something that was completely unrealistic. At the same time, I felt so bad for her. I ended up just letting her talk about it, and chimed in when there was something I could confidently give her input about.
Does this type of situation get any easier? Or even when you do have the knowledge to explain a prognosis, is it still difficult to work with someone who is this upset?