Monday, October 30, 2006

Ah, Medicine Marches On!

Having spent the past week in the "care" of the staff at a major teaching hospital in Pittsburgh - after having a colostomy a week ago today - I just thought I would spend a little time today reporting on the wonderful care, especially the excellence in dietary concerns, I received at this fine establishment.

First off, my surgery was scheduled for 11:45 a.m. last Monday and I was to report into the hospital at 9:15 for the preliminary check-in stuff you know.

Since my home is about 140 miles east of Pittsburgh, my daughter, her fiance and I left here about 5:45 a.m. to make the drive to the 'Burgh and arrived on time. Now, that alone is a minor miracle considering it was my daughter who generally is late, late, late for everything and we were on time. I'm sorry I can't say the same followed through for my surgery though.

By 1 p.m., my surgeon came to talk to me and he was not exactly a happy camper as by that time, I was 75 minutes overdue on my scheduled appearance for the operating room. And, the news the surgeon had then was far from good as he told me they anticipated at least another 2 hours in delays before mine would be done! Wonderful.

As things ended up, I was finally wheeled in to the O.R. and surgery began at 5:45 p.m. There's a good start for you, huh?

Of course, as is the case with abdominal surgery, you get nothing to eat until you manage to show some evidence of "gas" passing through whatever orifices are available for that means. Well, in my case, that meant I got nothing by mouth till Wednesday afternoon and then, my susentance amounted to a cup of broth (chicken, of course), a dish of jello, juice and a cup of tea. Lovely! The same meal was given to me with the only change being the type of broth being rotated from chicken to beef consomme over the next two days till I was really sick to the death of chicken or beef broth! Gets old, really really fast you know!

The staff, although very nice and friendly, seemed to be operating in a constant state of confusion though where one hand hadn't a clue as to what the other hand was doing. You could ring for the nursing staff, tell them your concern and they would say that the nurse would be notified and 30-60 minutes later, the nurse had no clue as to any requests having been made. Communication? Something lacking here, in my opinion.

Friday, I just about was ready to get into a "knock-down, drag-out" fight with the nurse on duty with me over my IV. They changed the bag and added another to the mix and as it started to run into my left hand, I could feel a terrible cramping pain beginning at the base of the fingers and running down to the left wrist - felt like someone was twisting the living daylights out of my hand. When I complained that there was a problem with the iv, she insisted it was the potassium and it was merely burning. I told her it wasn't burning, but rather was cramping but she refused to take my word for it. Finally, I convinced her there was a problem and she removed the iv from that hand but was unable herself to start a new iv in the right hand so she called some other tech person in who set up the new iv hookup in my right hand.

She then started the iv in the right hand and initially, it seemed to be running ok and then, it started to have a similar reaction but this time, it was aching and cramping halfway down my right arm! The thought of laying there for however long it would take for that bag to drip into my system and with it causing that much constant pain, had me throwing a mega fit - so much so that if I could have figured out a way to put out an APB on my surgeon, I would have done that - and finally, "Nurse Ratchet" decided to cancel the iv. She kept telling me it was the potassium drip that was doing this and that the problem was that some patients don't tolerate it. Well, if you are one of those patients who "don't tolerate it" do you just lay there and let them keep you in misery?

When my surgeon finally appeared shortly after this ordeal and I told him, he said I was right in having the nurse discontinue the drip! Thankfully!

Saturday, I had my diet upgraded from clear to full liquid - which only means that instead of getting just clear soup, you now get a cream type soup plus maybe ice cream or pudding to eat. The soup - hmmm - some strange creamy concoction with no definite name though - just strained 'cream' soup! I never did figure out what the flavor in this soup was other than some chicken broth based stuff judging by the amount of yellowish oily substance in it. The first meal of this wasn't too bad - it was thick enough, fairly fresh then too but by the last dose of this soup Sunday night, I had had enough of the "cream" soup flavor of the week that was apparently their menu choice.

My surgeon had told my daughters and me that the bulk of my stay after the surgery would really be taken up with the wound/ostomy nurses giving instruction in how to care for the stoma and the bag - cleaning, emptying, changing the barrier, the bag, etc. Yeah, right! Wednesday was the first day I saw an ostomy nurse who showed me zilch. Friday, another ostomy nurse did come in and change the bag and barrier and gave me a little course in the care thereof but not enough training for me to know what the hell I was doing with the system!

Saturday, another ostomy nurse came to show me the ropes. She did do a good job in trying to lead me through the procedure. In the process, the emptied the bag into a big plastic type cup and boy, there's something that is enough to gag a maggot! Talk about a foul, foul smelling ordeal! After all was completed, she cleaned the stuff (towels, washclothes, etc) off my bed, tossed the garbage stuff in the wastecan in the bathroom and disappeared.

Think that is the end of that story? Think again! I sat there in my bed and the aroma - which I already said was really putrid - kept wafting over me till finally, I went in search of a nurse's aid to see if she would empty the trash can in my bathroom as I figured that was the culprit. Wrong! The aid, when she came in, discovered the ostomy nurse had set the plastic cup container with the fecal material on top of the commode and just left it sitting there - out in the open to spread the fumes far and wide for all within range to get the full benefit and enjoy this smell! Thankfully, the aide took care of that situation for me too!

Finally, Sunday morning rolled around and I was really happy when the team of doctors checking up on me said I could call home and tell my kids they could come and pick their mamma up - they'd had enough apparently of my sweet, pleasant (bitchy) disposition for one week's time and I could go home! Best news I'd had in a long while!

My son and daughter picked me up about 6 p.m. and away we went, heading for the hills of central Pennsylvania. We made a stop at the TA Truckstop in Brookville for some coffee and food - something that I hope was ok in that the choices I had available from their menu to what was supposed to be allowed on my diet didn't quit match up but I decided to try some very soft scrambled eggs and a dish of cottage cheese. Not exactly "liquid" foods but the soups they had on the menu yesterday would never have been acceptable. So far, I guess it went through ok as I haven't been sick to my stomach anyway!

This morning, I did eat some instant cream of wheat cereal - yuck! I don't mind that kind of cereal but don't like it in the "instant" version. I'll be happy when I will be allowed to have hot cooked oatmeal in a day or two for my breakfasts! This afternoon I am planning a little treat to my system - cream of tomato soup! Hopefully, that will be ok to eat! It better be is about all I can say!

There's probably more I could say - bitch about, that is - pertaining to my hospital stay but thankfully, my memory tends to cloud when it is the short term aspect put into play so I have forgotten most of the stuff that tended to irritate me at the time when it happened.

Big hospitals, teaching hospitals, may have all kinds of equipment unheard of in the hinterland community hospital available where I live, but if I were to be given a choice of which hospital I would prefer to spend time in as a patient, give me the small places out in the boondocks where they give you a little bit of actual "nursing care."

Wonder what Florence Nightengale would say about her profession at these bigger hospitals anyway?


Anonymous said...

Welcome Home. I'm glad you are done with your surgery. Sounds like some things weren't all that good during your stay at the hospital. I hope things go well for you in the future.

Paige said...

Yes, care in today’s hospitals is left up to the family. When my dad was in a few weeks ago, his doctor prescribed some cream for his feet. Guess what it wasn't put on them until I checked his feet to see how they looked.(FYI feet tell alot about a persons health) any who, I told dad his feet were horrible just then a nurse walked in & says 'oh there is this cream the dr prescribed, let me go get it for you.' What a sweetie. After that everyday I called to see if the cream had been put on his feet & when I was able to visit I looked at them. Amazing how much better they got after that.
If you want the care you have to demand it, I mean insist on it.
Very glad you are home & on the road to recovery