The Heart Of The Matter

Yeah, I know. I remember.

I mentioned a few posts back that I had a cardiac procedure a few months ago. I promised to blog about it.

Rather than bore you with medical details, suffice it to say this post is more about being a patient, and less about the procedure itself. I had a cardiac ablation to ‘cure’ me from my increasingly-frequent bouts of supraventricular tachycardia. Procedure a complete success.

But, it also gave me the opportunity to experience nursing from the patient perspective.

Personally, I think every nurse should be a patient at some point in their nursing career. Of course, I wouldn’t wish any serious health conditions for anyone, but I think turning the proverbial tables can be a valuable learning tool.

I was the nurse, but that day, I was the patient.

The first thing was my IV. I remember the feeling of irony and how surreal it felt to be on the other end of the cannula.

“Bevel up”, I thought……

Needle slipped into my vein effortlessly. Tiny bit of pain, quick insertion, and we were done.

Wait. No we weren’t. IV was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and tender. When I mentioned this, I distinctly recall how it felt being on the other side of the health care fence, when a patient would call me and tell me that their IV hurt.

Shit. This hurt. A lot.

I immediately requested that it be removed and a new site be started. My timing wasn’t ideal, as the procedure was ready to begin, and they were ready to take me back to the procedure room. I didn’t care. If there’s one thing nursing has taught me, it’s advocacy for my patients, and this patient was advocating loud and clear.

I need a new IV.

Another nurse successfully placed another IV in my antecubital vein, and….ahhhhh…….relief.

We were off.

Just a quick pit stop at the bathroom, and we would be good to go.

Now, nurses, this is important. Pay attention. I’m going to sum it up in one word: D-I-G-N-I-T-Y. Please, please remember that your patients are people, too. Give them privacy. Make sure their gowns aren’t flying open in the back. Pull the curtain when they use the commode in their room. Close the door when you are doing a bed bath. Pull down the window shades when doing patient care, so the visitors eating a meal out in the courtyard don’t look over and begin retching at the sight of a naked ass being cleaned.

While I had an uneventful trip to the bathroom, I was nonetheless reminded of the importance of providing privacy for patients.

I won’t bore you with details from the procedure itself, but suffice to say it took approximately three hours, was a complete success, and I was in recovery before I knew it.

No. Really. Before I knew it. While I had thought that perhaps 30 minutes had transpired, in actuality, three full hours had elapsed. I was dumbstruck. I was speechless. I was also quite stoned.

I was completely riding the high that my medications were providing me. Yeefuckinghaw…..

Hello, Versed and Fentanyl. It’s so fucking nice to meet you.  Is this what narc seekers are always talking about? Whoa…..I think I get it now. That part alone fascinated and terrified me. To this day, I’m still amazed at how I felt, how time seemed to mean nothing, and I just cruised along in some sort of drug-induced comfortable fog. Better living through pharmaceuticals. Cue the commercials. Yeah. Ok.

My nurses were fabulous. Timely, thorough, and informative. I can’t say enough about how well I was treated. My pain was managed, my comfort was addressed, and I was being kept in the loop at every point along the way. My nurses were present and actively listening to my questions, concerns, and needs.

Listen, nurses: Listen to your patients. Pull up a chair, sit down, make eye contact. Remember, your patients are people. Human beings with feelings. Don’t discount them as just another number in your patient count that day. Chances are you’ll get better compliance when you engage with your patient.

In the end, my procedure was really less about what was done TO me, but what was done FOR me. I came away with a fresh perspective, a new appreciation of what it’s really like to be on the other side of the curtain.

But if you abuse your call light privileges, I can’t guarantee I won’t want to secretly smack you with it.

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2 thoughts on “The Heart Of The Matter

  1. James says:

    If all nurses were as caring and professional (not to mention as beautiful) as you, patients would never even want to be discharged. 😊

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