"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some Things I've Picked Up as A Patient

Ok so I've been a patient for the last...3 days and there are some very important lessons I have learned that all nurses should learn.

First of all- time means nothing. The whole day (and night) sort of just meshes together and time is non existent...2 pm is no different then 8 pm. You stay in bed all day. There is no difference. You do nothhiinngggg and it is very boring. Today alone I have done 2 suduko puzzles, a magazine (I read it)...(it was oprah)....(I was very bored). I also read the newspaper. And took a walk and had a ton of random visitors. So. All that meshed together. I don't know what this teaches nurses. But. It's something to keep in mind for your patient.

2. Beeping IVs SUCK. SO BAD. particularly when peaceful sleep is trying to happen. As an aide and student nurse, I can honestly say I have answered at least 1000 bells where the patient is calling because the IV was beeping. My response? "ok- I'll tell the nurse". And I hate to say it but I usually forget. I usually check why the IV is beeping and decide on the priority of telling the nurse based on why its beeping (occlusion? IV bag empty? Air in line?).

My new response?
"it's beeping- I'll go tell your nurse right now- and keep reminding her till I see her come in here."

Seriously though some hospitals are different but this one I'm in now, the IVs are so friggen loud when they beep. Abd between me and my roommate, thy beep frequently, and sleep is therefore very hard to maintain or achieve. Or even maintain a simple conversation. I will try my absolute best to be on top of the IVs when they are beeping when I'm a nurse- it will make the patient very very happy.

3. Answering your phone when youre with a patient is unacceptable. This goes to doctors and nurses. Nurses usually carry portable cell phones given to them by the hospital at the beginning of your shift. They are supposed to answer them when they ring, even if they are in the middle of a therapeutic conversation, or changing an IV dressing, or wound site, or washing someone up. How would you feel if you were being washed up and you were half exposed and then the nurse answered her phone and carried on a conversation with whomever for 5+ minutes, meanwhile you're still exposed and probably wet and soapy.
So I know you cant complain about a problem with out offering a better solution, so here is my solution (s): 1) choose not to carry the cell phone. Have the secretary take messages for you and call them back as soon as you get out of the room.
2) if you are waiting for a very important call from a doctor, warn the patient a call may be coming, and when the call does call, excuse yourself properly from the patient, and then answer the call- OUTside of the patient room- and then return to the patient to finish what you were doing.
I know im not a nurse yet and i do NOT know what its like for nurses. I KNOW they are busy. I KNOW. I know that they are doing something every single second of their shift, and if they have to answer the phone during doing something else, then they have to. But I know as a nurse, next year, I am going to make a conscious effort to be wary of when and where I answer my phone. Think about it...WHen you answer your phone in front of a patient, they feel like a second priority, they feel less important. Your attention is being diverted away from them for that time frame and they are left in the distance. Plus, even AFTER you return from the phone call, they feel that you are in a rush or are needed by someone else and that you have to give up some personal time with your nurse.

to doctors: Yesterday my colonoscopy was at 9AM. 9. I saw the doctor at 7pm. PM.

Which is fine. Whatever. WHat else am I going to do all day except wait for the doctor to show up? But she shows up at 7 (she said she was coming at 530), she spent 10 minutes on the phone, in the room with us. First she got a page and she ignored it, then another one, which she answered via text, and then a call, which she picked up.

No comment. 0-0.

So, for now, those are just some things I have learned as a patient, about patients.

Also, patients are usually crabby because these hospital beds SUCK. which is funny because I always thought they looked comfy and i thought- how cool! You can ADJUST how you want every single body part on the bed! You can change your head position, or legs, or whatever....but its not all its cracked up to be. Youd be surprised that you have grown up lying flat when sleeping and chances are you are going to want to remain flat even when you have the option to adjust. ALso, this bed MOVES. Unexpectedly. and Randomly. Its to prevent bed sores. WHich is fabulous, because I'm 22 and don't expect bed sores. I am moving on my own, thank you very much. But there is no off switch. So I feel like I am on a boat. Literally. THe pillows are pancakes too. And thats all besides the beeping IVs, the conversations in the hallways, the ringing phones, the patients screaming (yes that all happens at night).

So. Update on me: The colonoscopy yesterday showed that i (might) have the beginning stages on Ulcerative colitis. UGH! So maybe this blog will turn into "A Writer in a Nurse's Body with Ulcerative Colitis"....Catchy, no? :-)

I don't mean to be crabby, because thats the spell of being a patient, and i dont mean to be a venting bitch about things i cannot change. THis post is an important lesson i have learned and I wanted to share. I know that it is all good and well for me to make "Suggestions" about nurse ways, when i am not a nurse yet and when I am a nurse, I will probably look back on my post and laugh. But the point of this post is that when i am a nurse, to just try. TO remember this hospitalization and remember how uncomfortable and scary everything is, and to explain EVERYTHING, treat patients like they are your only, and be respectful. I am going to be busy, but the least I can do is try.

~ A Writer in a Nurse's Body.

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