Spring break was great! Here is a brief recap. Drove to Austin to see Richard Dawkins at UT - an incredible, incredible experience. Busted my nuts working on the house every single day of spring break (aside from Dawkins Day). And make roughly 5 trips to Lowe's to buy paint, rollers, color cards, swirl sticks, 3 kinds of primer, drywall mud, sand paper, drill bits, and so on. It was great! I got a ridiculous amount of work done and I pat myself on the back for it.
Consequently, I got way out of my previous school schedule and patterns, and so this past week has been a little rough. Going into the hospital on Wednesday morning, I realized I'd left my stethoscope at home and my money for lunch in the car in the parking garage. I then went up to the floor and waited in the lobby for my instructor before going into the actual patient area. Evidently I'd missed the memo on being told not to do that any more, so I was promptly chastised by my teacher who repeatedly told me I missed report. Another point for me!
After getting the customary glares from the nurses on the floor (most of them are barely able to mask their immense dislike of students), I went to my patient's room and asked if it was alright if I was her student nurse for the day. She was a little gruff, but said she didn't mind. A few minutes later, she let me know she needed her pain pills for the morning so I got to work on finding her nurse. Luckily for me, all the nurses on the floor were in what would become an hour long meeting - fantastic! During that time, my patient's husband repeatedly came to me and was near-frantically trying to get the pain medication his wife desperately needed. I finally was able to get ahold of my patient's nurse to get the hydrocodone. However, I was so nervous at that point for making my patient wait so long for her medicine that I forgot to ask her her name and date of birth (a hospital necessity for every patient/health care provider encounter - especially narcotics administration!) My patient then snipped at me for forgetting. Wonderful! Could the day get any better?
Surprisingly, yes. I spent the entire 9 hour day with that woman, and she was wonderful. Once she had her medicine - her "hydrocozone" and "valian" (Valium) she was much happier - and I don't blame her for being cranky. She'd had a hip replacement surgery a few days earlier, but because of recently healed broken bones, she had chronic pain issues on top of her fresh surgical pain. Don't get me wrong, this lady was smart! She looked 15 years younger than her 70 years, her mind was sharp, and she wanted like hell to get strong again and get out of the hospital. I went to all her physical therapy appointments with her (4 hours every day) and by the last appointment, I was pushing her wheelchair down and taking her back to her room even though there are people paid to escort patients from their floor to the rehab facility. She talked about her life and all the things she'd done, and how the last few years have been tragedy after tragedy for her. She kept asking me to make sure I got her next hydrocodone pills to her on time, and I felt good knowing that I could do that for her - even if the next day, the nurses would "forget" or become "too busy" with other patients to listen to her requests for medicine, at least today she would have her pain managed. Her chronic and acute pain had been the reason she was in the hospital for a few days extra, because she nearly always was at a pain level 10 out of 10 - described as the worst possible pain you can imagine, and at an unbearable level. No wonder she was having problems! No one had been helping her out properly. She had a few setbacks during the day - a few accidents that embarrassed her, needing someone to assist her with the most intimate tasks. I was so happy that I was the one to help her out and make her feel comfortable.
When I dropped her off at her last physical therapy appointment, I wanted to hug her but wasn't sure if it was appropriate or not. She wouldn't have minded, I don't think. Her eyes were misty when she looked up at me and said "How did I get so lucky as to have you with me today? Thank you so much for picking me as your patient. You made my day today. You tell your momma and daddy that I said thank you for having you!" I got up to her room and quickly wrote her a note that she could read when she got back to her room, letting her know how wonderful she was and that I knew she'd be getting out soon with all the hard work she was doing, and that I wished her the best. She made my day too, and I wanted her to know it.
These types of patients, these types of days ... they are the reasons I want to be a nurse.