Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

‘Rebooting a plane’

worryI’ve never thought I was normal. I don’t believe there is a ‘normal’. But on my recent return trip from NYC (to see my wonderful daughter), I laughed at discovering another quirky thing to add to my arsenal of, uh, what I’ll call kind of crazy thinking.

Here’s the lead in:

I get on the 4:46 JetBlue flight out of La Guardia with only purse and book in hand after graciously turning in my carry-on to “help speed up departure.” Comfortable in my window seat, I become so engrossed with my Strands bookstore purchase, I lose track of time until I hear the overhead announcement.

“Folks, we are sorry for the long wait on the tarmac. On the control panel, one program button isn’t lighting up. We are returning to the gate.”

In my world, all the buttons don’t need to be lit. While I pretend to have wings and fly through the clouds on a plane so big they call it an AirBus, that’s a different story. I want those buttons lit, flashing, and sparkling like the KiraKira App my daughter showed me on her phone.

We roll back to the gate. We don’t get up and squeeze back down the aisle made to only fit runway models. We get this instead:

“Folks, we’re going to keep you on, turn the engines off, allow resetting, and restart.”

What?! That sounds like ‘rebooting’. They are rebooting the plane. My daughter’s last email to me, only an hour ago was ‘If there is anything weird going on or any passengers get weird, get out of there.’ Rebooting a plane. That might fit the bill.

Two passengers walked to the front and disappeared. I dug around the seat pocket in front of me until I found the barf bag. Just wanted it close by – no gurgling in my innards yet.

 I pondered Kristen’s advice until they announced overhead the two passengers were Miami bound and connecting flight were located for them.

The roaring rumbling of engines diminishes. Some people stand and stretch.

Over and over again in my head one mantra kept me relatively calm -God has a plan for me. God has a plan for me.

Then it happened, that crazy thing I can laugh about now…I estimated the large amount of trip charges on my VISA and freaked out.

 They would be hanging out there if my flight home was to be my last hours on planet earth. It had to be taken care of. I didn’t want my daughter having to forage around my house to find my password and deal with a giant VISA bill (When I see her, we go big. Mama’s worn out nursing feet demand Uber. The kid picks amazing $$$ restaurants for dining.)

I lurched sideways and scrunched up until I could get my hand down to my purse on the floor and retrieved my phone. Recalling old announcements for people to turn off computers until lift off, I tapped fast. I don’t want my cell phone interfering with the plane’s function! Capital One – Yep – okay – not too bad. On to my trusty bank. Account. Pay bill. Confirm amount. Send.

I feel much better already.

The engines start up and we roll back out to try again.

First flight I didn’t fall asleep on.

 

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For All the Right Reasons

selfie choice

 

I photo bombed a patient trying to take a “selfie”, but it was for all the right reasons.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…there is no good reason to photobomb someone taking a “selfie”, but hospital selfies different. Let me explain.

First, anybody in a hospital gown, sans make-up or hair done, and lying in a bed, is unlikely to want their photo taken.

The process normally starts with the family or friends sitting around and wanting to lighten the mood. Conversation has come to a lull. The reality of why they are there is sobering, as sobering as all the risks listed on an anesthesia consent form. They all start commenting on the amazing beauty of the required blue net hair covering and the air-conditioned design on the back of the gown. There is deference to comments by the patient. She or he is the one actually going through the event of having a tube maneuvered down their throat and incisions made on their abdomen or other regions. The friends and family will get a one shot photo –op. Then the patient will get in on the ludicrous humor of it all and offer up their own choreographed photo for the people not in attendance; the Facebook and Instagram crowd

If I see a patient shrivel up when a visitor pulls out a camera, I’ll shake my head, give a halfhearted smile, and tell them everyone’s getting IVs if I hear a click or see a flash. I don’t have to do this often.

Now yesterday…my patient was alone.

She’d been dropped off – to be picked up at an estimated time based on her surgery schedule. She was quiet when she first arrived, but easily drawn into conversation. We had a good rapport while I listened to lung sounds, accessed a vein for her IV, and explained the pre-op medications.

It was when I stepped back to the wall mounted computer at the bay entrance that I noticed something.

Her smile had dropped. She fidgeted with the T.V — changed channels then turned it off. Reaching for the next mode of entertainment, I saw she now had her camera in her hand. All this time, I am filling in screens and toggling to the flow sheet.

I’d stepped over to print out a strip from the EKG monitor when she was angling the camera to take her selfie. It was easy to see that she wasn’t into it. There was no mock lip pursing or raised eyebrow. She hesitated then put the phone down. She picked up the phone twice but never smiled.

I don’t know what came over me, but the third time she picked up the phone and set it eight inches from her face, I stuck my mug in there right next to hers and said “You got this!” She took two photos.

Her laugh made my day.

 

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Everyone Should Get At Least One


 
“Susan, there’s a limit of two visitors per patient.”

I didn’t know that. I’m so naïve sometimes. I thought whoever could fit into the pre-op bay was okay as long as I was doing my job and getting the patient ready. The more, the merrier.

“Okay” I quietly said to the passing peer. “Give me a few minutes to get everyone back to the waiting room.”

If the visitor had a sour disposition or a look of doom and gloom that was resulting in my patient getting fidgety, I’d find a sweet way to send that person off for coffee. Somewhere around here, we have a few leftover Starbucks Buy-one-get-one free cards. Or I’d point out the value of them getting breakfast under their belt.

The family in front of me, not the case. They were nothing short of entertaining, and the important thing was that they were entertaining the patient, keeping his mind away from the reality that, in less than thirty minutes, his surgeon was going to make three little incisions in his belly to fix his abdominal hernia. The atmosphere in this bay was similar to that of a tailgate party.

I squeezed past my patient’s two younger brothers and his next door neighbor in order to give him his IV Dexamethasone.

“Hey, did you know we named it?!”

The brothers said this almost in unison.

“Huh?” I missed something.

“We named Kevin’s* hernia. We’ve been calling it Prudence. Get it? Protrusion – Prudence the protrusion. We read one of his reports and kept seeing the word over and over.” They both reached over to rub Kevin’s* belly. He laughed. Then he farted. The laughter escalated.

People walking by slowed. This was not your usual family attendance for someone having surgery. A teeny part of me wanted to squelch the shenanigans.

‘Miss Susan, there’s more of us in the waiting room. Can they come back?”

Gosh, I hated saying no, and almost as if someone read my mind, the OR nurse and anesthetist showed up.

“It’s time.” They announced.

I was surprised by the degree of panic I had that the whole family wasn’t with Kevin* and turned to the OR nurse standing next to me. Not getting to say good-bye is a soft spot for me.

The OR nurse had heard the request and had a simple solution.

“No problem, we’ll go out the front door past the small waiting room so everyone can say “Bye” then go left toward the OR.”

I gave Kevin a sedative in his IV, disconnected the wires from the monitor, and reminded the visiting brothers to herd everyone else to the large waiting room once Kevin* left pre-op.

I stepped back so Kevin could be wheeled out of the bay. The brothers followed suit and jogged over to the area set aside for family. The foot of Kevin’s stretcher was pushed to the right and I subconsciously turned my head in the same direction. Kevin, still awake, had a loopy grin on his face.

In front of me, in a fashion similar to a wedding reception line, six people stood side by side, all looking on expectantly as Kevin was rolled toward them. Each held out their left arm, shoulder level, palm sideways, and greeted Kevin with a high five as he passed.

It was a Go-kick-Some -Ass kind of high five. No one showed their fear. It was all “You got this” kind of vibe.

I’ve had a lot of joyous moments in my life. This one is added to the list. I’ve never had so much fun sending someone off to surgery.

We should make this kind of exit from pre-op mandatory.

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