We stare at each other, gridlocked.
"Please let go, I don't want you to hurt yourself." I plead.
"Well, then stop hurting me." she retorts. I'm slowly prying her fingers one by one off of the arterial line. I look at all the tubes we have her hooked up to, the oxygen mask, her incisions. If I didn't know I was in the hospital, I guess I'd think everyone here was trying to hurt me too. As I'm filling with sympathy, her hand gripping my wrist lunges at me. I instinctively jerk back, but not in time to prevent getting two long scratches down my hand. I think I see some drops of blood pooling to the surface. My 72 year old, sweet-as-could-be patient, just drew blood! I manage to loosen the last of her fingers from the A-line and without loosening my grip I tie her arm down to the bed with a restraint. The next hand quickly follows, though I stay far out of reach from those dagger like nails. Once securely fastened, I ponder this paradox. I tell her we're not trying to hurt her, and now she's tied to the bed like a criminal. I have a feeling she's not going to trust me again. I go to call the doctor and scrub some Purell on my hands. The stinging I feel reminds me of the battle just fought. Well, score one for the 72 year old, I think.
Update: This patient was suffering from delirium, which is pretty common in older patients in the hospital, especially when medications and lack of sleep are involved. She is now doing fine but remembers our little adventure, and thankfully no longer thinks I'm trying to kill her.