Who could come in? What if it was a doctor wanting to discuss results? What if it was the cleaning man? What if it was a radiology tech? Do I sit and pee have a normal conversation like nothing was going on? Do I scream, "Get out!" Do I just pretend like I wanted to get up and that was the only place to sit, and nothing was happening?
Add overflow to my list of worries.
Hospital personnel are masters of understatement.
|No, this isn't me, but doesn't she look happy?|
One big help came when my sister took charge of one of the nurses. The majority of my experience with the nursing staff was outstanding, for which I am grateful after my last experience. This time, I was given appropriate care - with one exception.
First, let me explain: I have a theory about pain and pain medication which developed after my mastectomy/reconstruction, when I had to spend an extra day in the hospital due to poor pain management (and poor nursing care).I believe that pain control is key to recovery. The more relief you have, the more sleep you get, the more you can cooperate with the nurses when they ask you to get up, the more you can relax and let your body do the hard work of healing. When you are in pain, your muscles are tight, you can't sleep, your breathing is abnormal and it is much harder to recover. You don't get addicted to pain medicine during in the time you are in the hospital, at least not during a normal stay, so there is no reason at all not to take pain meds.
If you wanna be a tough guy, have at it. Me? I'm taking all they give me.
I discovered that is not only my theory. I was given brochures saying exactly this with my registration paperwork, and UCSF as a whole believes strongly in pain management. Still, traumatized by my experience at Mercy General, I mentioned pain control to all of my doctors, from SuperSurgeon, to Anesthesiologist, to Exhausted Med Student, and all agreed with me wholeheartedly, in both theory and prescribing.
The doctors prescribed IV pain meds, and told me I would transition to oral pain pills when I could eat, which would also signal to them that I was getting ready to go home. I was not expected to eat for a few days, which is normal after somebody has rearranged and removed part of your digestive system. I had an epidural with a button I could push for extra pain control every 15 minutes, and I was allowed a shot of dilaudid every two hours. They said I might be in pain a little between shots and they couldn't control it entirely, but would do the best they could and not to be afraid to call the nurses and get what I needed.
That sounded fair to me.
So, my one and only male nurse came in on Day One post-surgery. He introduced himself, and then stood at the foot of my bed and began his pain medicine lecture. He told me that he wanted me to take oral pain medicine since it would last longer in my body, and he would not be bringing me IV meds. I asked him what kind, and he said percocet.
As an aside, I know that percocet was not going to touch the pain that I had right then - 24 hours ago I'd been cut from between my breasts down to my waist, a major organ half removed and burned, and then sewed and stapled together. Percocet is what people take for headaches.
I was quite alarmed at his pronouncement. It was not a suggestion - he was telling me what he was going to do. He wasn't going to come in to give me shots. I knew I'd be under his care for at least 12 hours. I had flashbacks to my last hospitalization and became afraid.
I weakly argued with him, telling him that not only had I spoken to my doctors about what I should get - that very morning, in fact - and they wanted me on IV meds to be transitioned to oral when I could eat. I also told him my philosophy about pain relief, and I didn't believe a 5 mg percocet would give me relief for the kind of pain I was in - I'd taken it before and I knew. He didn't care about my thoughts, and stood there arguing with me. Literally arguing with a woman in my condition, despite my becoming visibly upset. Unfortunately, I didn't have breath or strength to become assertive about what I needed, which is where family comes in.
He left the room, and shortly after, my sister also left. I don't know what happened in that hallway except she spoke to the nurse. But I got my pain meds every two hours with no argument, and after that one day, he was not my nurse at all. For which I was extremely grateful.
I've come to believe he just didn't want to come in every two hours to give me pain relief. If he did think that oral pain meds were the better course for me, than he has missed his calling and should have gone to med school so he could prescribe what he wanted. My sister, after talking to him, also believes he just didn't want to be bothered every two hours.
The rest of the nurses gave me my ordered pain meds every time I asked for them, and each and every one of them were wonderful, even if I was annoying, which I'm sure every patient can be. I can't remember any of their names and I wish I'd written them down, because they deserve a paragraph about their kindness and understanding, rather than the one person who was only concerned about his own time.
I am especially grateful to the nurses aides (they have a fancy title that I forget). They were the ones who gave me a sponge bath, who helped me to the restroom, and who generally took care of all the icky things that have to be done. I dislike very much being dependent on anybody, and I'm sure I always will, but I'm grateful that these people were so kind.
Of course, once time, more than kindness brought them to my room..
I have a goal; I'm trying to get my facebook "likes" at 999. For no particular reason, other than everybody needs something to shoot for. So, if you have no liked his page yet, and you did like this post, please "like" me on facebook. You can do it to the right. Thanks!