… it all went away after a few minutes in.
Since my hysterectomy I get especially excited to work with patients who are going to have a hysterectomy. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And while each hysterectomy and the person having the surgery is unique, there are still commonalities about the hysterectomy.
A few weeks ago … I’m still thinking about this patient and what happened … I got excited to call a patient who was to undergo a hysterectomy just like mine. I got all excited to talk to her and then … all she wanted to talk about were her innumerable food, medicine allergies and sensitivities along with her severe Celiac Sprue disease.
This is all good and fine, but I couldn’t serve her in the best role I was meant for and set out to be. I’m not a nutritionist nor an allergist nor would I be serving her any of her meals, because like I tell most of my patients, “You probably won’t see me … I’m simply that mysterious phone nurse.” And LET ME MAKE THIS VERY CLEAR, yes, yes and some more yes, I do think knowing a patient’s allergies and sensitivties are VERY IMPORTANT. There is no confusion here. Or Confucius either.
I like listening to patients and I’m pretty good at reassuring anxious ones — in fact, it’s probably my secret hidden super power. I call patients all day long spending about eight hours talking and listening, so much so that when I get home I don’t want to talk to my dear husband, ending up listening to him instead (or at least pretending). He has a deficit of how many people he gets to be heard by and talk to in a day, so I’m the brunt of his verbal download.
This poor patient has unheard by previous medical people because I paid the price of her dissatisfaction with the healthcare profession. I got to hear all about how she gets severe anxiety when nurses and doctors term her Celiac Sprue disease as only an allergy … which I never did once in the conversation. She made it very clear that this disease is simply not an allergy and is an autoimmune disorder. No argument from me there … I would have never oversimplified this disease, or what she has had to endure.
We spent a lot of time going over the Celiac Sprue. I listened and listened and listened some more, taking her very seriously. I really, really, really, really wanted to tell her about the pre-op hysterectomy process, the recovery room and what her stay in the hospital would be like. I wanted to tell her about the surgery she was about to have.
WE NEVER EVER EVER WENT THERE.
She told me how we (people who work in hospitals) in my state kill people. I had to do a double take on this statement. I almost fell out of my chair. Yes, she used the word kill. Apparently she moved from another state and somehow got misinformation that my state, which will remain unnamed because that’s not the gist of this conversation — to defend my state — unplugs people at the drop of a hat and doesn’t save people when they are about to die. I will, however, defend my profession and my experience. I’ve been a nurse for two decades and I’ve never, ever experienced anything close to anyone not saving someone who looked like they were dying, getting ready to die or even dead — yes, we’ve even tried to save the dead in my E.R. experience! I’ve worked in pediatrics, the ICU, ER and recovery room to name some critical places where patients are most likely to have life-threatening situations. We go through a lot of training on how to save people and what codes mean and how to call them and what each person’s role in a code is. We as nurses take your sickness, your signs of dying VERY, VERY, VERY seriously. We are here to help you. There is a reason why nurses are called angels! And where I work is no exception — some of the most caring nurses I’ve ever met who will give each and every patient the best care humanly possible!
So … I had to spend some time gently educating her that the mission of my hospital and my profession was to save people at all costs UNLESS they specifically had the legal document of a DNR (do not resuscitate) with them or on their chart.
In that point in time, this is what she wanted and needed — she needed to talk about serious dietary concerns and what happens in dire life circumstances. I couldn’t share my hysterectomy knowledge or experience with her. I am saddened because I feel like my care wasn’t complete. She was pretty much done with the conversation when I finished getting and giving the essential information like directions to the hospital, asking her what medications she was taking and instructing her on basic pre-op instruction like no eating and drinking after midnight.
This patient still sits in my mind today while I wonder if she’ll get the information she needs through her surgeon, the internet or whatever sources she may find. She and I couldn’t get there — into hysterectomy world.
I feel horrible that she has severe Celiac Sprue disease because it must be hell to manage a daily diet, let alone even begin to eat out at any restaurant or have dinner at someone’s house without constant worry and fear. I am sorry that she wasn’t listened to by some other healthcare professionals (or felt like she wasn’t listened to) in the past and her disease wasn’t taken seriously. AND I feel empathy for her in that she fears for her life thinking that healthcare professionals in my state won’t act to save her life if needed.