Was it the nurse or the Dilaudid?

After being settled into my room a bit and my husband having gone home to feed the cats I found myself opening up to nurse S. — the lovely day shift nurse.  I don’t think I meant to intentionally have this conversation with her … it just happened … either that or it was the Dilaudid.  I’d like to think it was the connection I had with her with the baby steps I’ve been taking at trusting others.

Nurse S. had a lot of charting to do and had to do her final checks on me.  The charting system is in each patients room on a computer.  I don’t even know how I brought up the topic … but somehow it started with being OK about being on a postpartum floor even though I was childless.

I told her that I was pregnant two years ago and that our baby had a chromosomal abnormality — trisomy 21 to be specific.  I told her how it was a surprise pregnancy as I had years and years of infertility never believing I would be able to conceive.  I was 43 at the time.

I told her how my husband and I elected to terminate the pregnancy … I cried … she cried.  She held my hand.  I don’t feel like she judged me.  I told her how I couldn’t give my daughter a broken life starting with a likely heart surgery to follow with mental and physical disabilities effecting her entire life.  I told her that telling her my story wasn’t easy and how scary it was for me.  She simply listened, nodding her head at all the appropriate times.

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I feel like I may have taken up a lot of her time by all my talking … I apologized and she replied by saying it was OK, that this was what was needed in this time … for her to listen to me.  I believe she genuinely meant that.

And I still wonder had I not been on the Dilaudid PCA if I would have opened up so easily … I’m simply going to tell myself that it was the special rapport I had with one caring and kind nurse leaving it at that.

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More personal stories about TFMR (termination for medical reasons): http://1in10blog.wordpress.com

The post-op fun continues … sort of

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Can I just get this out right now … my day and night nurse were literally like day and night!  Luckily the nurse I got to spend the most time with or who spent the most time with me was the nurse I preferred.  Not all nurses are the same, just as all people aren’t the same.  There’s usually a chemistry between people or their isn’t and this was the case for me and my two nurses.

Nurse S. was my day nurse; she was attentive, kind and thorough.  She was also a great listener too … I’ll get into that a bit later.  I was a bit sad when she had to end her shift, but she did have a life and family to go home to.  She did make me feel like her only patient.  I hope I didn’t make her feel that way because I know some patients can be time-hoggers and as a nurse you end up feeling guilty by not being as attentive to your other patients.

Nurse S. used to by an L&D (labor and delivery) nurse before working on this postpartum / GYN floor.  I was kind of afraid coming to this floor that I’d be the boring, non-cutesy-baby-having-momma patient and might be ignored … but this is far from what actually happened.

Prior to being placed on this floor I was asked if the predominantly postpartum floor would be an OK place for my post-op recovery.  I was asked this by the pre-op nurses prior to my surgery.  If I was OK with being on the postpartum floor — the floor with all the brand new babies — then I would be on the general surgery floor.  I was totally OK being on the postpartum floor even though I am childless.

Apparently there was an incidence of some woman in the past who had a hysterectomy, who already had three boys, who got placed next to a room with a new infant girl.  That patient went hysterical after her hysterectomy because she had always wanted a baby girl; it was a trigger for her.  Honestly, all I ever wanted was healthy normal baby with 46 chromosomes and no major structural deformities … nothing perfect … simply an intact start for my baby’s life.

So, yeah, the postpartum floor was what I wanted; I figured they knew about women’s needs better, to include female anatomy.  The only weird baby situation I ran into was when I got up for a walk down the hall, rolling my IV pole and carrying my Foley bag along, was the man who walked by me and asked, Boy or girl?  To which I replied, Neither.  I had a hysterectomy.  He looked visibly embarrassed and apologized.  His question had no effect on me emotionally; I understand that not everyone knows the postpartum floor also has GYN patients, not merely new mothers.

One thing I will have to impress on anyone who goes to the hospital is to bring snacks.  I was starving after surgery.  It was EIGHTEEN hours before I ate something.  And, no, ice does not count as eating something.  I scarfed down all the orange jello and graham crackers they would give me until my meal tray arrived.  The hospital food true to cliché was terrible with the exception of the next morning’s bacon.  But when you’re hungry, you’ll eat just about anything.

As for my patients that I talk to when I return to work and if I’m every hospitalized again, I’m going to emphasize the importance of having available finger-food snacks.  Holy cow I was hungry!  And it sucks to beg for graham crackers and jello from your nurse when you know these are trivial items in the scheme of actual nursing care!  I joked with nurse S. that I really wasn’t needy but wanty instead; she laughed.  I also told her I might have been somewhat hangry and asked her to forgive me.  She had a puzzled look on her face.  I can’t believe she hadn’t heard the term hangry before.  I had to bring her up to speed.

HANGRY!She got it and a let out a small chuckle.  Wish I’d known this word years ago … it explains a lot with a lot of people I know (and have known)!  I don’t think I was really angry … I was only graham cracker and food obsessed … I did have a Dilaudid pump infusing into my veins by the way!

Can this post-op day really continue?  Yes, it can … I’ve got some more stuff to milk this one day into a few more posts.  Stay tuned.

Post-op day one CONTINUED …

After the da Vinci total hysterectomy.

After the da Vinci total hysterectomy.

After arriving to my room and meeting the most pleasant nurse on planet earth I was getting acquainted to my new connections … the IV, the PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pump, the Foley catheter and the SCDs (sequential compression device).

The IV — no big deal; I’ve had lots of these in the past and the nurse who put it in pre-op used lidocaine to numb it up before inserting the needle. It worked like a champ my whole hospital stay.

The PCA — I love you, I love you, I love you! It was filled with Dilaudid (hydromorphone) which is a medicine that really makes pain go away. I never felt high or buzzy from the Dilaudid — simply pain-free. I can’t even imagine a nurse having to pop in my room every one to two hours to give pain medication — that would be ludicrous and a waste of good nursing time. I even discussed that idea with my day and night nurses — they agreed.

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The Foley catheter — this urine catheter was placed while I was unconscious in the OR. I’ve never had one before and wasn’t sure what to expect. I am a nurse by profession and have placed so many of these catheters. I’ve heard the litany of complaints about how uncomfortable they are and the incessant voiced sensation of the “need to pee”. I felt no pain with the catheter … actually I felt nothing and had they not told me I had a Foley I wouldn’t have known the difference. But I’m really glad it was there so I didn’t have to use a bedpan — what a mess (and bother) or have to get up to pee. I also remember many patients telling how much it burns coming out. When it was time for mine to come out I asked my nurse if I could use the syringe to withdraw the water from the balloon that held it in place and she suggested I sit on the toilet and do it. I think she only let me remove my own catheter because I am a nurse and we had such a positive rapport. Well, easy as pie and NO burning … not one single bit! I’m not saying those past patients were exaggerating, it simply wasn’t my experience to have any pain or problems with my Foley!

The SCDs — Oh, how I loved these “leg massagers”! They are so important because they keep blood clots from forming in your legs causing DVTs (deep venous thromboses). The periodic squeeze felt so good to my calves. Apparently, to both my day and night nurse I’m an oddball as most women do not like the SCDs. I know my father didn’t like his after his knee replacement, but he was a whiney wimp about everything connected to him! I would have relished taking this machine home with me and while I was in the hospital I wore the SCD as much as I could! Now my husband will have to be my SCD! Of course, I’m walking around now so the point of SCDs is moot.

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Full-leg length SCDs being applied to both legs.

I’m going to continue this post-op experience in yet another post … stay tuned!