Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hospital Fun (with a capital F U)

Well, I got out of the hospital on Tuesday last week.  I survived the internet withdrawal only because I didn't have enough brains left to even bother searching down a login to get into the hospital's patient Wi-Fi.  Honestly for hospital stays this one was pretty good.  Other than being scared and crying as they were putting me on the operating table, and one nurse who, while not incompetent, didn't have the time of day for me except when she wanted to boss me around, it was a comfortable stay at least.

The crying was expected.  I knew it would happen.  One of the helpers in the operating room even gave me a squeeze and said that I was in good hands.  I told them that I knew that, but honestly the faster I was under, the faster I would stop crying.  The next thing I know I'm waking up... and puking.  I guess as soon as they started bringing me out from under the anesthesia I was puking unconsciously.  Seven times before I remember even doing one.  Gah.  My body doesn't like the drugs.  Then off I go, wheeled to my private hospital room.  $40.00 for a private room so I can rest when I need to, room service 3x daily, and all the drugs I need?  Sign me up!  The drawbacks, the blood test pokes done 2-4 times daily.. in the back of the hand for lack of another free space.  Still have bruising from all the pokes...

All the nurses I had were great.  They were using their skills in pillow organizing to help me get comfortable, they listened to me and my concerns, gave me different options for pain management, and the nursing assistants were there to help me get up and walk because movement does speed the healing process a bit.  I say all this but for one exception as previously mentioned.  The exception, the Un-Nurse, didn't seem to have the time of day for me, and when presented with her when all the other nurses were wonderful, the differences were glaringly obvious. 

For example, I would ring if my pain started to come back, sometimes I would make it to the allotted 4 hour interval, sometimes not.  Even if it wasn't yet time to give me some medication, a nurse would come and let me know when I was due next and would see if they could do something else to make me comfortable.  Not the Un-Nurse.  One time I knew that I was due for medication within the next 15min, and I knew it for a fact because I'd had another puking spell, taken some meds and gone back to bed by 5:30am.  So I rang asking for my next dose at 9:15an.  30min go by of me fading in and out of consciousness and trying to ignore the pressure that's coming back into my neck.  I ring again and they say again that they will send my nurse over.  10:00am comes around, the pressure is still building, and she finally bustles in the door and says, "I can't give you your medication until it's due."  I think I told her that it was due over half-an-hour ago, but it may have been inside voice because this is a very tired, zombified Shanna during the hospital stay.

On the Saturday morning after my surgery, she was my nurse and suddenly she's in my room and saying, "Okay, time to take that catheter out!  I want to see you up and walking!"  Now at this point I had gotten up a total of 2 times to take a short walk; the first to the door of my room and back, the next to get out of my room and walk two doors down and back.  That's it.  Plus, I was feeling dizzy and faint a lot of the time before I had my surgery; now it was doubled. 

I started arguing with her, telling her that I'd only gotten up and walked twice, and I was dizzy.  She starts saying that it has to come out because I need to get up and walk around, that if it stays in I could get a bladder infection, and that if they needed to help me to the bathroom every hour that they would do so.  I start thinking about how it takes her at least 20min to answer any call and I'm panicking.  I tearfully argue more with her, saying that I was just going to go for another walk (which I was) and then the Nurse Assistant (NA) was going to give me a sponge bath, so could we wait till later.  She just looks at me with disdain, and says, "Fine, but it's coming out before the end of my shift."  Exit stage right.

Gah.  So I did do what I said, and as soon as I was done I closed my door and napped for 2-3 hours, because I was exhausted.  I didn't see hide nor hair of her.  Even when I called for more pain meds she sent another nurse, saying she was busy.  Perfectly fine by me.  She finally came in at 2:45pm to take the catheter out, just before the end of the shift.  This time I was actually ready for her to do so.  All I had needed was some time and some real rest, and for her not to be there so I could count on someone answering my call if I needed help getting to the bathroom.

My last straw on dealing with her though was when on Monday morning she put a note on my file for discharge.  The discharge decision is supposed to be between the surgeon/doctor and the patient, and is no business of the nurse.  Now, on Monday I was honestly in no shape to go home.  I'd had a few bad nights dealing with some drug reactions on my part that mostly caused lots of nausea and some puking.  T3's were one... guess I don't handle the codeine very well, or at least not 2 tablets worth.  I needed some really good sleep, and I also needed to get up and go for a few more walks around the unit.  I didn't find out about the note she put on my file until the next shift came in and asked if I was being discharged today.  Grrrrrr...

I ended up asking if could request not having a particular nurse.  They said I could, so I did and told them a couple of the reasons why.  They brought it towards the head nurse and let me know the request was in.  Unfortunately, I think it was too late to request for the next day, because there was the Un-Nurse, bright and early Tuesday morning.  Now this morning I knew I was getting discharged.  We had figured out my nausea thing, I had finally gotten a decent sleep at night, both neck drains were gone, and I was actually feeling ready to go home.  I go through the morning with the Un-Nurse paying a bit more attention to me since she had to remove IVs and go through papers and such.  When my hubby shows up, she disappears again.  He put all the flowers in a cooler and grabbed my backpack and such, then went to get the car, both of us expecting someone to wheel me down.  I even had let the Un-Nurse know that I was leaving in 5min and that I was just saying good-bye to someone in the unit.

So, there I am, sitting in my room again, waiting for the Un-Nurse to come and give me the meds she said she was sending me home with.  Finally I use the call button.  Waiting... both her and the NA show up, she gives me the meds and asks if I'm going home.  I said yes, my husband is waiting with the car downstairs.  (I'm saying this as I'm sitting in the wheelchair).  I even go to turn the wheels myself and she gives me heck because I'm not allowed any strenuous activity for 2weeks after the surgery.  But then the Un-Nurse walks away.  I turn to the NA and say I need a ride downstairs, so she takes off after the Un-Nurse to see if she can push me down to the lobby.  Waiting.... 10min pass and nothing.  So I finally get out of the wheelchair and push it over to the front desk, then sit down again just as the head nurse is getting off the phone.  Turns out it's my husband who is wondering where the heck I am.  I told her I've been waiting for someone to give me a ride out of here but no one has come.  She calls my NA and I finally get to escape.  Geeze...

But even with all this I have to say a big thank you to the rest of the nurses in Unit 29 at the Peter Lougheed.  You were all wonderful.  Thank you for your kindness, your support, your warmth and compassion.  Even though I have shared the bad, you truly did make my stay a good one.  As soon as I'm better I'll be gracing you all with a big bucket of joy filled with chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Goddess give me Serenity, give me Strength

It's crunch time.  I've finished all my Christmas shopping except for one present; we did pictures with the kidlets (even after removing zinc diaper cream from Owen's hair on the same day... pics to follow as soon as I can).  We've cleaned the house as much as it's going to get cleaned.  I had my pre-surgery Reiki treatment to help me heal better after.  My bag is almost fully packed for the hospital, just needs the last minute stuff in it.  I've loaded up my iPod with eBooks (thanks CaRWA ladies for putting out stuff to read!), and I've even ripped some movies into it as well.  I've gone through all my pamphlets about what to expect with the surgery and after, some of them twice.  I've told the boys that I won't see them for a few days because I'll be in the hospital, and somehow I managed to do that without crying... yet.

My surgery is at 9:15am on Dec 9, 2010.  This means I need to be at admitting at the godawful time of 6:15am and that means I have to be up about 1hr earlier, and without the benefit of liquid caffeine.  Someone poke me with a stick, I'm done.

Goddess give me the serenity and the strength to do what needs to be done.  I know I'm going to go through with it anyways, because honestly, the other option is probably REALLY crappy, but I would like to not be full of anxiety.  I feel like I have a grief inside me that has echoed into the very depths of my soul.  Most of the time I don't feel it there, but on days like today, with my surgery tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Hey, you're next," the grief is in my throat, coating everything I say with unshed tears.

Everyone who's been reading this so far knows I'll be going through some crappy stuff over the next few days/weeks.  After having a major surgery it's not like anyone would be doing the Dance of Joy.  I'm going to be in there for a few nights, and will have fun things like a catheter, wound drainage tube, and even an oxygen mask when I first come out of it.  Maybe they'll at least give me some nice IV thing where I can press a button for pain relief.  Something that I can have under my control. :)  I don't really have the worries anymore that I'll be in the 1-2% of anything going wrong.  I have to believe that everything will go smoothly; trying to keep in mind that whether you believe it will or it won't go well, you're probably right.

I was told today that I have a strong heart.  I definitely believe this too.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to handled this soul deep grief, nor would I have the capacity to love as much as I do, as well as carry on with smiles and laughter as I do most every day.  I also feel like I am truly blessed.  They say it sometimes takes a tragedy to find out who your friends are.  I have found that I have more friends and family reaching out to me in my difficult time than I had ever thought were there.  Thank you to everyone for all your offers of help, be it with kids or meals or other, I will be taking advantage of it all.  Because even though I have been told numerous times by numerous people that I am the strongest person that they know, I will be even stronger with you there to support me.

So tomorrow, I'll be in surgery from 9:15am till about 3:15pm, and will probably wake up between 4-5pm.  I will gladly take spells, prayers, distance healing, or even thoughts towards my well being.  Even though I know everything will go smoothly, a little extra insurance doesn't hurt, plus maybe it'll help me get better quicker. :)  Hugs to you all and I'll post again in a few days to let everyone know how it went.  Who knows if I'll even have Internet access in the hospital.  I think I may go into withdrawal <shudder>.  I can't even remember the last day I didn't log onto at least something!