Monday, April 18, 2005

Raging Bowel

Hi All!

Dad's gonna kill me for this but that's been a frequent idle threat going on 49 years so I'll take me chances. Besides, I've done enough to my health to save him the trouble and jail time.

The spry old man had a butt-check last week. Saturday night, he started defecating crimson at his NW Wisconsin lake estate.

A quick trip to the local hospital was followed by a slow, hairy, pea soup fog navigated ambulance ride to United in St Paul.

Turns out the wound from a polyp snip sprang a nasty leak (don't they cauterize them things?)

The part I'm getting to is his frustrating health-care experience. Lots of conflicting doctors' opinions and CYAs, indifferent and/or English-challenged nursing staff, broken promises, rank tedium.

Tell me about it -- I am a Health Care Frequent Flyer and won't try to even begin to delve into all my tales.

Well, I'll relate dese ones, anaway...

How to Improve Your Nursing Care

Suck up, Suck up and then some. I am naturally charming , but have had to swallow hard and BS the extra mile sometimes.

After you press the call button, start counting to googleplex. You can stop when the nurse arrives, when you sheepishly apologize profusely for being such an intolerable pest, what with all the really sick people that need attention, but could you please change that empty IV bag? Hint: Don't mention that she promised to do it an hour ago.

Related advice on those snazzy electronic IV monitors. They like to beep annoyingly when you so much as flinch. Try to wheel the stand into the bathroom without setting it off -- can't be done, even by a bomb diffusion expert.

I learned to press the RESET button on the contraption unless the bag was empty. Sometimes I had to cycle the power to shut it up. That's all the nurses do, and you don't have to put them out every 10 minutes. Don't let on that you are doing that though, or you are in for a scolding.

If you are hospitalized for several days, the nurses will get to know you and look forward to fetching you frosty fresh pitchers of ice water, easy on the water, and cranberry juice. easy on the ice. without you even needing to ask. They will be eating out of your hand. Flattery gets you everywhere!

If all else fails, take a wing walk, learn where the goodies are and go get them yourself. Hint: The door usually warns, "Staff Only!" Staff don't give a rip and probably are thankful for you saving them the trouble. If they confront you, turn on the charm and volunteer as you were just trying to not to make an insufferable pest of yourself.

Take a different tack with Doctors. Grill 'em mercilessly -- they be your ass-savers and you are showing a healthy interest in your health, as if you have to prove it! Make them sniff the odor of your potential future as a malpractice claimant, but do it ever so subtly. Just keep asking dumb questions to keep them in the room and make them earn the $80 they are charging you for the visit. You'll learn alot and if you half-way good at it, you'll rate a red tabbed entry in your records binder warning other practitioners to pay special heed to "this patient".

Don't believe it? Well, among my other indescribable patient indescretions, I will always grab my three-ring off the desk when no one is looking. Trust me. Nice to nurses, Chummy but firm with doctors (chat them up -- they don't bite as a rule).

Stay out of Nursing Homes

During my adventures of late, I spent 5 days in the "Transitional Wing" of "The Lexington", not to be confused with the landmark restaurant.

I had to be there because there was no place else to stash me at the time, what with the commitment and so forth. I filled many journal pages with descriptions of the bizarre, depressing and humorous experiences there, but I can tell you that in future I will do anything to avoid letting any friends or relatives. let alone moi, from getting ash-canned into one of those diabolically horrid places. (Mom, Dad, you can live with us as was done in olden times when families made the sacrifice and took the responsibility to care for their own at home).

I see that day coming again societally, by the way.

My room was adjacent to the floor station. I guess it was a nurses' station but I didn't see too many nurses. Mainly orderlies and nurses' aides.

Treading on sensitive ground here, but I don't let PC get in the way of the facts. A majority of staff consists of African immigrants who walk to work from the nearby St. Anthony High Rise Slum.

I was my usual disarming charmer, but language barriers dulled the inpact, although the exchange of smiles, my youth and my relative sanity were helpful, I at least delude myself to think. At least they checked on me once in awhile without me joining the screaming chorus of plaintive "Helllppp meee"s that haunted the halls.

My particular aggravation occured overnight, as the nurses' station became the equivalent of a daily conclave around a tribal village well. It was a gleeful, happy high-pitched, high-decible cacophony of indecipherable chatter which almost, but unfortunately didn't quite drown out the endless complaint of the shrill BEEP BEEP BEEP of the call notification announcing apparatus.

Fun to listen to for awhile but not conducive to restful sleep, even with the door closed.

Won't leave you hanging without the solution. Requested and got a new room at the far end of the hall!

It's unfair to blame my sleeplessness solely on staff. The inmates, er, "clients" provided much loud audio, much of which were the stuff of Edgar Allen Poe stories. Often profane, seldom humorous and overall very disturbing.

But that's another story. Remind me to tell it sometime.

Cheers!

3 Comments:

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1:06 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Hi, nurse Kelly here. Sorry to break this to you, but the doctors see you for 15 minutes per day, and the nurses for 24. If the sh#t were to hit the fan, a nurse would be the one saving the thing that made the sh*t. I can't TELL you how many deaths or serious problems I've personally stopped by catching the problem before it turned into something horrific. Not like I walk into the patient's room and brag about it...I just do it. You don't see me do it, but I do it.

Guess who writes a long, detailed note everyday to the doctor about your condition? Guess who the doctor asks first about you? Guess who calls up the doc in the middle of the night to get you something you didn't even know that you needed? That's right, the dainty dumb nurse who knows nothing about nothing.

We're not as dumb as you think we are. The nursing schools here aren't taking anyone nowadays with an admission GPA of less than 3.5 for the pre-requisite coursework (I had a 3.9 at the U).

Just be advised. Your nurse does a lot for you.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

BTW, The Lexington sucks. Sorry you had to go there. Unless you're a coke addict..then you can walk outside in the alley and buy drugs. True story.

2:27 PM  

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