Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My ICU "Horror Movie" Feeling

One day after surgery they removed the catheter. To be honest it was not painful while it was with me and the removal was not painful either.

When you think of being in ICU you think of having constant nursing attention and care, being monitored closely. Well my experience was quite different.. During the day Wendell was with me constantly and I received the best of care, but at night, when he had to leave, it was a completely different story.

About an hour or so after I woke up in ICU they brought another man in the room with me. He, I know, was in worse condition than myself, and my heart hurt for him over the next several days. I realized because of his condition he needed pretty much constant care. With only one nurse for the both of us, and the curtain pulled between us, to separate us, I was pretty much left on my own for most of the night time hours while the nurse stayed at his bedside. I was unable to talk because of the trach. When my pain meds would wear off I would lay for what seemed like hours in pain and no way to get the nurses attention. I couldn’t speak because of the trach. When she would appear at the end of his bed where I could see her I would try waving my arm to get her attention but she never looked up. I had a suction tube, used to suction my mouth and throat, (to keep from choking on the mucus), that I would try to bang on the bed rail, but the noise it produced was less than the noise from the machines in the room, so it was useless. There were times I felt like I was in a horror movie. I would lay there in pain or needing to use the bathroom, unable to get up or even move very much, helpless to call for assistance. On my last night in ICU, after lying in pain for hours, I was finally able to get her attention. I began writing on my note pad telling her I had tried to get her attention for hours… he needed his own nurse…I needed help and attention too that I was not receiving…. please just get me a button or something to push to get her attention when I need help… To this she began insisting she was checking on me every few minutes and there were no call buttons in ICU. Feeling so helpless, I gave up trying to reason with her and just begged for my pain meds. She gave them to me and then came back a little while later to tell me how much she cared for me and would do anything for me… It was so weird..I have honestly thought by watching her actions and hearing her she had some kind of mental disorder. I felt like I was in a sequel to the movie “Misery”!!! The next morning a nurse from another room came in and asked my dayshift nurse if our cable was working in our room. My nurse replied that she didn’t know because we had not turned the TV’s on but she was welcome to check. The nurse came over to my bedside and asked where my button was. I shrugged and she found it behind my bed. After checking the cable she hooked my call button onto my pillow….The same button the night shift nurse said didn’t exist!!!!

On another occasion…. I began having difficulty breathing. It seemed like all I could do to get enough oxygen to breath. I was struggling. I felt like I was burning up, I was sweating profusely. I told this nurse I felt like I couldn’t breathe. She looked at the monitors and said my oxygen level numbers were good and I was just excited!!! I tried on numerous occasions over the next three hours to convince her that I couldn’t breathe well and she kept insisting it was anxiety!!!! Finally one of my doctors came in for his nightly visit, he asked me what was wrong. I told him I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He immediately reached over and pulled the canula out of my trach. It had a big lump of something in it, completely clogging it!!! He said “no wonder’! He told me the only oxygen I had been getting was through my nose through the tiny space the trach was not filling. I told him I had been that way for hours. He left the room, I assumed to tell the nurse who had left the room. When she returned later she tried her best to accommodate me in every way!!!

Even though the night shift nurse spent most of the night at the other man’s bedside, the things I heard her say to him sent shivers down my spine.

After the fourth night in ICU I told Wendell that he had to get me out of there!! I was not going to spend another night in there!!! He got me a room later that day.


Karen Crabtree said...

Every time I have heard what you went through in ICU it scares me for you. You have been through so much already and I know you have more to do. But thankfully the nurses at most cancer centers are so caring and helpful. I pray that is what you find. Take care,

Stephanie said...

Eeeeewwwwwwww, my poor little mommy!