Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

After the Tree Comes Down

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There’s this season after we’ve gorged on Thanksgiving, the tree is down, and we’ve debated whether we’re going to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s called “Empty Stretcher Season.”

No one voluntarily wants to have surgery. That includes those with gallbladders that surely flared up eight hours after Thanksgiving dinner, the dads with tendon tearing pain in their shoulders after taking down the Christmas tree, or yours and my tipsy friend who fell  while “celebrating” on New Year’s and argued that they were fine — the swelling in their knee would be gone tomorrow.

In surgery centers all around, management adjusts for the low census days. People leave early. Some stay home (with no complaint). Those working catch up on mandatory education between cases, find nooks needing dusting, restock bays, and bond. Yes, that’s what I wrote, we bond, or I should say, I bond. In order to be objective, I should speak only for myself.

Things slow down enough that I get to have a tidbit of social interaction outside the twenty to thirty minute lunch that falls anywhere from 11:00 to 12:45.

“How are your kids?”

“Are you going to fly up this summer to see family?”

“Did you catch that movie?”

When worn out joints result in a tidal wave of late in the year arthroplasties and long days, it’s a sweet reward.

I saw tomorrow’s surgery schedule around 10:00 am and …

Empty Stretcher Season is over.

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Dream, Dream, Dream

8012635_origI wonder if my patients dream during surgery.

I wonder if the last person they see pops up in their subconscious while their surgeon is cutting, suctioning, or fixing immovable joints and stenotic veins.

I wonder if anesthesia makes “sleep state” dreams more vivid, less vivid, or ominous in their meaning.

People seem to be less afraid of the anesthesia, and more of the cutting and alterations made while they “sleep”. That’s ironic to me, seeing as the incisions are portals to our pain —reminders of our presence here.

Anesthesia steals our time.

I’ve had patients again and again wake up post procedure with the confused look on their face because it feels like only minutes have passed when it has been over an hour. I’ve had recovery nurses tell me the confusion post-op patients feel makes them anxious and elevates their pressure.

It’s the only instance when I don’t sing the praises of anesthetics — when you encounter those that are sensitive to their time here, whether it’s blissful or complicated.

So I hope that when they must “sleep” on one of their visits to a surgery center or the surgical unit of a hospital, they dream.

And they remember it.

And it’s a good dream.

15 Comments »

Any Doubts, Keep the Tray Out

To the nurse I yelled at on Sunday night:

We’d been in the OR suite since 0630 that morning. We did five surgery cases before we cleaned OR suite three to pick up your patient. Two of the prior patients were in the oldest beds in the hospital — you yank, twist, and turn to get those kinds of beds on the elevator. One of the patients came down with five family members trailing behind, each with a bag of food from McDonalds. No one had eaten since 6 am.

You told me at 4:30 pm that your patient only had breakfast for his 6 pm surgery. At 5:45 pm, in pre-op, he told our anesthesiologist that he had lunch, not just liquids, rice and beans, at noon.

We couldn’t do surgery until 8 pm. No one lived close enough to go home for a bit.

A staff of seven waited an extra two hours. When all was done, the clock read 10:15 pm.

I know it was unpleasant to have two additional calls following my scathing call to you. And you were doing so well – the patient with the ectopic pregnancy – your pre-op check list – exquisite! But the anesthesiologist, I had to let him rant. He had another 12 hours in OB to manage.

We were tired, some were hungry, and some had to get up at four in the morning the next day.

***************

So…you look about 22, maybe a year out of school. Maybe I’ll come by next week and tell you some of the doozy mistakes I’ve made.

It’ll get better. I promise.

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Au Natural

     “Your gown needs to be open in the back and right here is a belonging bag to put your clothes in. This blue cap… Whoa! Hold on. Let me pull the curtain and step out.”

The shirt is off and he has dropped his shorts while I was partially turned to him and pointing to the items on the bed.

     “Miss, let me just get my shoes off the floor here.”

I pulled the curtain closed a half a second before patient #2 walked by and saw my 7:00 am client from an incredibly unflattering perspective.

I don’t know what to make of the patients who see nothing unusual about disrobing before I draw the curtain. There doesn’t seem to be a thread indicating it’s a cultural thing, gender thing, or age thing. The closest I’ve come to is that it’s a surgery thing — the more surgeries they’ve had, the less they want to hear my “Welcome to Bay 4” speech.

It’s less than two minutes. It used to be three minutes long. I eliminated the “Have you had surgery here at _________ ___________ before?” I shortened the ‘It must have been difficult waking up at 4:00 am in order to get here” to “Did you sleep at all last night?”

Please understand, to me the human body is the human body. And yep, it’s true, nurses have seen a lot. But it doesn’t mean we care less about respecting privacy. And it doesn’t mean everyone in the pre-op area wants an impromptu peep show.

Word to new nurses:

Pre- op patients are rarely chatty and some don’t care about showing their wares.

Keep it short and sweet and think fast on your feet!

5 Comments »

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