Tell a Nurse You Care

| May 2, 2013 | 0 Comments

My sister is always saying how grateful she is that the Multiple Sclerosis that attacks her body does not give her bouts of pain. Last week was an exception. Intense pain brought her to the doctor’s office where we were told it was probably best to go straight to the emergency room. I hesitated. Emergency room visits always took hours and that was just to get you out of the waiting room and inside the door. This doctor was not her regular physician, but an on¬¬-call doctor covering for her. “Here’s what you do,” she said, “As soon as you get there, tell them you can’t breathe, you’re in terrible pain and you feel like your heart is about to explode, moan out loud frequently and they will give you priority.” I liked this doctor right away. So off we went to another emergency room adventure, armed with directions from none other than the doctor herself.

Once in the waiting room we were surrounded by the usual suspects, including an elderly woman in her wheelchair accompanied by a son who fumbled with her oxygen, an autistic child yelling out as his father tried to comfort him and keep the noise level down and a young teen clutching his bandaged arm in pain, to name just a few. In fact the room was overflowing with people in various stages of “emergency.” It was definitely a comment on our present medical system. During the intake I told the nurse how much pain my sister was in and how she needed to be seen right away. I guess everyone had to be seen right away because 30 minutes later we were still waiting.

Heeding the doctor’s advice, I told my sister to moan loudly and look like she is passing out. But my sister, always the stoic, could only manage a barely audible “ow.” It’s just not her style to moan. I, on the other hand, could have worked up a series of ear piercing screams if I was in that much pain. OK, I thought, time for some drama. I went up to the intake nurse and told her my sister is starting to pass out from pain and I don’t know what to do. “She almost fell out of her wheelchair, I caught her and kept her from passing out,” I told her, “what should I do to keep her from falling?” It worked. Within minutes we were taken into the emergency room and they found her a bed.

Next hurdle. How do they get her into the bed from her wheelchair? She cannot transfer herself. At home her caregivers use a hoyer lift to get her in and out of bed, but surprisingly the hospital had to find a lift team of strong arms to do that job. That took awhile. Finally she’s in bed and the waiting game began. Lots of questions, lots of preliminary tests and at last a doctor arrives to talk to us. “Well”, he explains, “we have to rule things out, so here are the tests we need to do. In the meantime we have set you up with an IV of pain medication, and we feel it’s best to admit you and watch you through the night.”

When a room was available, they admitted her and off we went. Soon the room was filled with nurses, hooking this thing up, taking this test, adjusting the bed, the lights, whatever they had to do. I was impressed watching this team of health professionals just doing their job and doing it well. She was talked to the entire time and constantly reassured they had it all in control. My pain for her eased as I watched her pain medication take effect. I stayed on for a few hours and when I felt the time was right, I went home. She was in good hands. Hospital nurses are a hard working and often unappreciated group. I am grateful for them.

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Category: Health & Fitness, Local News

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