Friday, June 5, 2009

The See Through Patient

At first I thought the scariest thing about hospitals was the noises coming from behind closed curtains. Alan's roommate who has just checked out was a 300 pound, incredibly vocal, incredibly demanding man who had been in a terrible motorbike racing accident. Every 20 minutes we'd hear him wail, "Mama! Mama. Mom! Turn on the fan. Turn it on now! It's hot in here Mama!" I told my mom about the full grown man next to us with the 6 kids who still called out for his mom. But later I found out that his "Mama/Mom" was really his girlfriend, or "his girl" as he told the nurses. (Actually, that's still one of the scarier things: I hope after I have kids Alan's pet name for me doesn't turn into Mom or Mommy or any other form of Mother.)

From the two days that I've spent in Alan's hospital room though, the real scare is how the nurses don't listen or seem to acknowledge what you're saying but then forget about what they said they were going to do all together. This morning Alan called me at 5, 4 hours after I'd gone home, and told me that strangers he'd never seen before were treating him and that the nurses were trying to kill him. After hanging up bewildered, I lay back in bed and wondered if I could just go back to sleep, but because I know he would do it for me, I put a sweatshirt on and drove back to the hospital.

When I got there, he had come down from the fever he had at 2AM of 109 degrees but was still at 103. He told me he had been paralyzed and couldn't move for 2 hours and the nurses wouldn't help him. So I started asking questions about why and which drugs he was on and the nurse looked right through me, like an annoying fly was buzzing around her, but not worth swatting at. A little while later she came back in and tried shooting more drugs in his IV. Which is when I told her to stop and started asking again about the drugs she gave him earlier. Her voice started to rise and she told me that these drugs were scheduled and that the doctors wouldn't tell me about every order change which is fine. All I wanted to know was if you had a patient who was obviously as high as a kite, convinced you were trying to kill him, and was paralyzed from all the narcotics in his system, why would you try to sneak in and give him some more?

At 7, all the baby faced doctors who could have walked straight off the set of Grey's Anatomy came in and crowded around his bed to check his wound. One turned to me and said they were mostly worried about infection at this point and would have to do blood work. And here we are near 5PM and no one has mentioned anything about the test results. And when we ask the nurses walking by, they all nod and say they will look into it, but no one ever does. I have lost so much faith in the good work done inside these walls. Someone please save us.

1 comment:

Karin said...

We're designing a hospital survey about this actually. Some of the actual questions are: "During this hospital stay, how often did nurses answer all your questions to your satisfaction?" "How often did nurses make sure you understood all the information you were given?" and "When you had a blood test, x-ray, or other test, how often did hospital staff tell you when to expect the results?" I'm sure these nurses would have scored very low marks!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...