Nurse turns Patient
Hey folks, I’ve gotten a passel of e-mails. I’m sorry for not writing as much. I was at work the other day and got this funny feeling…. then a lot of nausea. I laid down in one of the PACU stretchers and about 30 minutes the feeling got better. The nausea persisted and the overall sick feeling stayed. Now, a little bit of medical knowledge can be really good or really bad. I know that I’ve ranted about this with patients on several occasions, but you never think about it when it’s happening to you. Back when I was an ER nurse, there was a test that we gave patients to quickly decide if their pain was cardiac pain or just some vague abdominal pain. We would mix some Novocain and Maalox and give it to them. If their pain suddenly disappeared, they were OK and sent home. If it didn’t, then it was cardiac and called for a workup. I thought, hey, I’m at work, I’ll take the mixture. It did nothing…. Oh crap. So, the next thing I did was to run an EKG on myself. After it ran, it said “normal sinus rhythm.”… hey cool! I thought. By now the pain was fading away. I’ll just head back to my room and go to work and no one will know the difference. I was clearly in denial as to the potential hazard. “Maybe it’s too much coffee, or just an arterial spasm, or a strained muscle from digging in the yard…” I thought, as I was heading back to the room. Needless to say, I finished the caseload for that room, but the nausea and achy feeling persisted. I got home and called promptly my physician for an appointment and checkup. I had to move a heavy table to the back of my truck. As soon as I lifted the table, the pain returned. Except this time it was several times worse. I became faint and weak. Still thinking that it cold possibly, very remotely be some sort of cardiac problem, I chewed an aspirin tablet to thin the blood and laid down to rest. It seemed like moments later (actually in real time, about 20 minutes). The pain faded. I forgot everything and crawled into bed. My wife was becoming upset. She kept saying that I “didn’t look well.” I told her that I was really tired and needed sleep. She reluctantly agreed. I just couldn’t make myself believe that I had a cardiac problem. Heck, I have no history. I don’t smoke. Neither my mom or dad had had heart problems. I run at least two miles at least twice a week… most of the time more often.
The next morning, I woke up and asked my wife what she wanted for breakfast. She said “Oatmeal.” I climbed out of bed and walked to get my sweat pants on and suddenly my nausea and dizziness returned. Except this time the chest pain was the worst ever. Now, I couldn’t make up any excuses. “Pain without exertion” was clearly symptoms of unstable angina and I knew I was having a heart attack. My wife said, “you look pale and kinda funny again… are you OK?” I could barely speak, I said, “no… lets go to the hospital.” She flew into “go-mode” and we were off. Heading out the door, I chewed another aspirin. Thinking how I hated the patients that brought everything with them, including their pockets full of valuables, suitcase, jewelry and nonsense, I left the house wearing only an old t-shirt and sweat pants carrying only my insurance card.
On arrival, my pain had diminished a lot, but not all together. I got out and my wife parked the car. I went in and said that I was having chest pain. A team of nurses, techs and well, a bunch of other people ran out to wheel me back to the room to do an EKG and draw blood and a flurry of other stuff. They gave me a nitroglycerine tablet and it burned as it dissolved in my mouth. Minutes later, I felt much better. No pain, weakness, or nausea. I was ready to dance. Unfortunately, they had me on strict bed rest. A little later, the cardiologist came in and said that he wanted to do an angiograms and shoot some dye into my heart to see where the clot was. “Hey, that involves surgery… and needles… I feel great now. How about you give me some of those little burning pills and let me loose.” My wife glared daggers at me and I reluctantly agreed to the angio.
I’ve been a nurse for 27 years and I’ve never been a patient but once… and it was a minor procedure where I went home that same day. Never a stay and sleep and eat at the hospital kind of stay!
Well, the angio went well and I an now fixed. I bought a stent and an several angioplasty balloons for this party. Now I’m sitting the night away in the ICU hooked to all sorts of monitors. I have to lay still with my right leg perfectly straight to not kink off the area that the catheter went in.
My wife was kind enough to bring me my lap-top computer so that I could still toil the night away and write to my blog and work up some stuff from actual work work while I convolese.
The good news is that I’m a real bono fide VIP. All of the ICU nurses know me from when I actually worked the ICU and they are all wanting to talk “old nursing stories.” I’m getting some new writing material!
I’ll tell you more, later. It looks like I’m gonna have plenty of spare time.