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Getting Through The Procedure

May 3, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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Surgery day went slower than we thought it would. After I registered we learned my surgery was delayed because of an emergency appendectomy. The hospital was unable to warn us before we left the nursing home. My sister and I visited in the waiting room while observing the upbeat treatment received by patients, family, and friends. My sister was given a card with a number that allowed them to page her without breaching patient confidentiality.

Before long I was taken to Pre Op. They had trouble starting an IV just as they did when I had tests a few weeks ago. They wanted to put the IV in my foot, which would have made it difficult for me to stand. I appealed to my surgeon and he had them put a PICC Line in. That was a better choice because I could move, get up, and stand without worrying about my IV coming out.

The operating room was so frigid; I thought I might see my breath. But that made me realize that few germs would take up residence there. Feeling a pang of trepidation, the mask covered my face and I drifted into anesthetic sleep.

I woke in Post Op with a sore throat. I questioned if intubation had been difficult, already knowing it had been. I was queasy and started coughing to clear my throat. Then, I was given a shot of nausea medicine and warned that if I threw up I would stay in recovery longer. I was surprised the nurse was so quiet. I even asked her to recommend a favorite movie, and she suggested Australia with Nicole Kidman.

Not long after I was in recovery my surgeon stopped in. I was in my semiprivate hospital room alone by 5:30 p.m. A few minutes later my friends came in. I had them call my sister's cell to locate her and found that she was not told I was in my room.

I was surprised that they gave me solid food for supper. I realized it had been almost 24 hours since I had eaten. I was terribly thirsty and probably drank three quarts of water that evening. They were giving me Dilaudid for pain and I was alert and comfortable. Since I was content to watch TV and rest, my sister headed home before 8 p.m.

Due to my disability, I cannot use the TV controls on the side panel of the bed. So they had to get me a special plug-in device that controls the television and nurse call button. They also got me a touchpad call button to use during the night. I am continually surprised that call buttons are not adapted for the needs of all. But that is where long-term care excels over hospital care. Here I have a Breath Call (blow in call light) which is compatible with the system and works for me. I told the hospital staff a Breath Call device is reasonably priced and would work with the hospital’s call light system and help those with limited hand function.

I made it through by adapting the hospital to my needs. We had to prop my arms with blankets and pillows so that I could reach. The nurses’ aides got me up and were very helpful. In fact, two aides who cared for me used to work at this facility. So it was like old home week.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...