Caveat: I have a number of friends in healthcare professions and I have – not just for my friends but for everyone in a chosen medical profession a tremendous amount of respect. What I’m writing in this blog entry reflects my feelings at the time and my concerns and my impressions. I’ve already said a number of times I could not in any way, shape, or form deal with patients. I can’t even take care of someone with a cold. That being said…
The very lovely tech hooked me up to the EKG (ok fine, she did it twice. It always takes twice. I blame the layer of evil thoughts the electrodes have to get through) and someone from registration came in and we did that stuff. As the EKG tech was packing up and I saw the print out I said “It’s fine, right?” followed by “It’s ok I know you’re not allowed to tell me. She smiled at me and said ‘well I didn’t run out of here and that’s a good sign in any hospital.’
Elizabeth the nurse returned with one less pen stuck in her messy bun and said she was going to put an IV in me so when the doctor did arrive if he ordered something she could quickly give it to me. Love that woman. Now, remembering all those surgeries at Mt Vernon, I thought about the inability to find veins and prayed to myself that I stay still so she could have an easier time finding a vein. Guess what? Elizabeth the rockstar nurse got it in one shot. YES.
My dad appeared at the bed (I assume he teleported from downtown DC because of the time of day and weather would have made it a nightmare to drive) and tried to comfort me by rubbing my arm but touch actually hurt. Elizabeth said she’d go see where the doctor was and left. I continued writhing in pain and making noises I didn’t know I was capable of making, trying to apologize for both but still not able to fully breathe or speak. After some screaming…seriously. I screamed…so humiliating Elizabeth and the doctor came in and he once again asked me to tell him what was going on. I was trying to get words out but he must have thought I was exaggerating or something because he seemed annoyed with me. Dad didn’t know much about what was going on just that his baby was hurting and he didn’t know how to fix it.
So after staring at me for a minute trying to figure out if I’m faking pain (I assume) or whatever he says I need a CT scan but there’s no way I can have one if I can’t lie still. REALLY? Do you think its in my best interest with the vitals alarms going off because my blood pressure was spiking then dropping, my temperature was high and my pulse was doing weird things…that keeping me in pain was a good idea while I get a CT scan? Anyway. She gave me a shot and then said I could have another if needed after I had stopped spasming all over. I told her I didn’t want another because I’d like to be conscious while we try to figure out the problem.
Funny how life works. My body 100% laughed at that. About 10 minutes later I was back to heaving and crying and all that. Elizabeth returned with another dose. YAY! I won’t say total pain relief but it brought me from a 10+ to about an 8. Now. I’m used to joint pain with my hips. I know how to function EVEN when I say I don’t, even when I want to punch something it hurts so much. What I am not equipped to handle…is body or organ pain. Let me assure you. I never thought I was such a pussy until this night. Anyway a few minutes after the second shot I was carted down to CT by a very nice young man who helped me get onto the CT machine and my lord holding your breath, then breathing when all of it is so painful. He was helpful and kind and I was injected with Contrast (shoutout to medical advances in that stuff, I used to throw up violently when I got IV contrast), it was done and I was back to my room in the ER. The doctor came back and THIS time a surgeon who has twice operated on me was with him! I didn’t even know he had hospital privileges at that hospital. Time seems to have zero real meaning when you hurt. Its either an eternity or passes so fast. I assume he had teleported similar to my dad. Lots of hemming, hawing, tossing around suggestions. No, I could not have ice chips but I could have this giant bottle of contrast JUST BECAUSE. Actually the surgeon was hoping to see more stuff on a second CT scan.
As both doctors conferred the meds had begun wearing off and I held off on asking for another shot which was stupid, I should have asked immediately but whatever. Anyway the ER doctor kept telling me to breath, then my surgeon chipped in. I know you should breathe. I KNOW. I also know I wanted to murder them both with my bare hands for saying it. “Calm down, breathe”. I’m certain the voice of Beelzebub himself conjured forth when I informed them both I can’t calm down because I couldn’t breathe and MAYBE if being calm was in my best interest then perhaps they should order something for me to calm down. My surgeon jumped in and agreed. I was nicer the last few times we interacted. Ha.
Now…when I was leaving for the next CT I heard this CODE SILVER CODE SILVER across the PA and made a mental note to look it up since the tech driving me down there didn’t seem interested in telling me what it was. I’m so nosy. Turns out code silver is an active shooter or person with a weapon. Lovely. In the EMERGENCY ROOM. How employees function with that level of heightened awareness at all times is beyond me. I had seen the police officer across who was waiting on the other side of my room but against the wall separation between mine and the one next to mine. Turns out the woman in there was suicidal, very unfortunately. She was somehow at some point about to grab a gun from a police officers holster! It couldn’t have been the officer I saw since everything looked ok. Crazy.
About this time back in my room with the pain meds now mocking me I began the writhing and aching and crying and then…I ripped out my IV. It was an accident but that made me more upset and when nurse Elizabeth came back she wasn’t even mad, but went about putting another IV, this time into my right arm. She headed out and when she came back I finally asked for meds when she told me to ask upstairs, the current situation was not good and it was best to get me out of there. Which was either code for ‘I don’t really want to’ or ‘someone keeps trying to steal guns and is now handcuffed to a gurney in the next room and I’m scared something could happen’. Either way up we went into a room in the back corner tucked away which was good because I was full blown crying and begging for death again. Sidenote: my last surgery there was a hostile patient event in the surgical recovery room and they were trying to rush me up because they’d had to call security as well as police officers to the room. Damn. I’m bad luck?
My nurses were swapping shifts but they were pretty good about giving me drugs. Not long after I got up there a doctor came by which, sidenote, I really liked her. I forget her name. I kept track of all my nurses and techs, and even random employees except I forgot her and that’s a shame.
Anyway I’ll skip through a lot of this boring stuff. I was hooked up to saline, we tried to get my fever down and they were still trying to figure why I hurt and what was going on and what was spawning the fever.
One thing I’ll say about this hospital, even though overnight I was annoyed by the nurse and tech because I thought they were sort of slow is that they are sooooo unobtrusive. There was no flipping on of bright lights, there were no loud noises. They were incredibly considerate overnight and I appreciated that. I was awakened for a middle of the night blood draw which was immediately followed by one of the longest damn ultrasounds I’ve ever had. (I need to blog about my first ultrasound at some point because it’s hilarious) When he finished he made it clear I’d be speaking to the radiologist later. Uhm. Comforting? When he left they loaded me up on a variety of meds based on my prelim bloodwork and it was naptime for me.
Anyway there were a lot of visits from doctors and mucho bloodwork, spiking fevers and lots of theories. One of the absolutes was that my blood counts were super low. I should add there are extenuating circumstances regarding my health history. Some of it might be a contributing factor, some not. Hence, the lengthy stay.
Over the weekend the doctors decided to keep an eye on things, manage my pain while continuing to test me for random things. I got a bag of iron infused with the hope that would bring my blood up enough to improve my health. I thought it would be immediate but apparently it takes some time? Which sounds ridiculous because doesn’t your body cycle through blood pretty quickly? Like within days? There were just so many thing going on, so the medical peoples were having trouble pinpointing where the pain and potential blood loss was coming from. By Sunday it was clear my blood was not helped by the iron so it was time for another bag.
Now…about IV’s. With the constant fevers up and down I’d gotten sweaty and such off and on so my IV site was bothering me. Overnight at some point when awakened for bloodwork (they actually could have done it without waking me except I had to pee) I noticed my sheets were wet where my arm had been resting. It was getting early and I decided it was sweat and ignored it. Well, by the next morning at shift change I told my new nurse about it. She looked at it and taped it down some and decided to change it shortly after morning rounds. No biggie. Except…my IV would NOT be held back. It was not about to wait.
Like my bladder.
The big issue is that on top of saline, I needed to get a transfusion AND I was on 2 different IV antibiotics…yea. Basically the leaking was all the good stuff I needed. Not constantly, but yea. So she came in, unhooked the old one, then after examining my veins and proclaiming them ‘tiny and delicate’ (Which, btw I heard a lot and not one of them would put on paper and sign their names to! I mean, I wanted it open ended and all, so I could refer to my tiny delicate feminine nature or whatever, details.) decided on my ulna. The Ulna, to avoid a trip to visit Uncle Google is the outside arm bone. So, everything was swapped over and my day continued except…fevers…
Oh wait the title of this was about IV’s. I’ll continue fevers in the last post. FOR NOW…my ulna IV seemed to be ok until for some reason…it literally exploded and saline was gushing out. This is not an exaggeration. I was a geyser. Now, when the nurse came in and saw this, did she turn off the saline? NO. So…I continued to be…a geyser, soaking my gown, the bed, the floor.
She did return quickly and I should add the point of this visit was pain meds. I was getting shots and I was stretching them out as far as I could. This particular day I’d gone 7 hours, which was approximately 4 hours after I needed a shot (haha I could have them every 4 hours). I WAS DYING. I could not wait. She’s there with my syringe of relief and I’m half hanging off the bed nauseous from pain “I’ll have to call the IV lab”
“IV LAB??? OH GOD I CAN’T WAIT. JUST SHOOT IT IN MY MOUTH!” I begged. THEN, because I’m a perpetual teenage boy in my head, I began laughing which was terrible because I hurt anyway, laughing made it worse. Sidenote: I really need my own laugh track
Moving along…the IV lab people are well, I don’t know what their actual title is except these are the people who do PICC lines. PICC lines! I’m the same girl who ripped a PICC line out of her arm and as punishment had it put in her chest. And when the two angels descended and had the saline turned off and examined my arms, hands, everything for suitable spots they decided to double team me considering I was waiting on 2 bags of blood and needed a reliable site. (It was a waiting game mostly for the fevers, but the geysers…yea)
So, they put one in the back of one hand and the underside forearm of the other. Let me assure you. The one in the forearm…once used was so incredibly painful that I dry heaved when they pushed fluids. I don’t know why. But it was terrible but we were all trying to baby my IV sites.
Alright. Let’s do this!
My first transfusion went into the back of my left hand and did great! Did great until an hour or two afterwards when I woke up to…SOAKED SHEETS. I’m like…wtf is going on here? My nurse was confused, the women who did these are THE experts so what happened? I felt like a failure. How the hell could I screw up 4 IV’s????? All I had to do was lay there and not be an annoying patient yet there I was not being a good patient at all.
So we swapped over and then my nurse discovered she couldn’t push fluids in the forearm IV. She gave up pretty quickly and called the IV lab (thank god) and one of the ladies from the night before came in and asked what happened. As it turned out, it was the lady who had placed that IV.
I came up with a variety of colorful swears in my head while she fucked around with it. She was being gentle; I know she was. But it didn’t matter. She did some trouble shooting, the thingy was clotted. Thingy. I should know some technical words at this point. Now, I was in so much pain I was freaking out. Between my body pain and then this IV…as silly as it sounds…how can an IV hurt? Needles don’t bother me too much but it was the placement or something. It was the absolute worst.
Also, she refused to tell me any swear phrases in her first language. Nurses can be such buzzkills. She told me the last choice really for me was my chest so she did what she could to salvage it and I think we both said a silent prayer.
BTW it held up, painfully. Barely. But it managed to make it through the next transfusion.
For those keeping track, that’s 6 IV’s in a 6 day hospital stay. Dios mio.