Since we are already/only a week and a half out from the surgery, I wanted to post a little bit about my experiences in the hospital. You got the important information from Peter’s updates, so I mostly want to write about my own impressions of the experience.
A warning: This post is VERY long! Sorry!
First, my only other time actually being in the hospital was when I was about 6 and was hospitalized for my previously-undiagnosed asthma. What I mostly remember from that time was an awful nurse who was very mean about making me get up to go to the bathroom, even though I didn’t want to, my horrid IV that I must have tried to pull out because they literally strapped my wrist to a styrofoam board, and the one morning my dad said he would be there when I woke up, so I woke up extra early and of course he wasn’t there yet (he was also trying to handle this while my mom was out of town, so in retrospect, I give him a LOT of credit!). Needless to say, my only other hospitalization was not a great memory to draw from.
I’m happy to say that this one went a lot better and I definitely learned a LOT.
I knew they were the most important people in a hospital, but now I REALLY understand why. They are the ones who are always there, they are the ones who will make or break the stay. They work 12 hour shifts, which I think would be hard to do, but as a patient, it is very nice only having to remember 2 people per day, since you might get several different night/day nurses over the course of the stay.
I stayed in the ICU and in the women’s ward (I think? Still not exactly sure who their usual clientele is, but they knew what to do with a pregnant woman). In both places, all of the nurses I had were competent and professional, but the level of care and attention I got definitely differed by person. In the ICU, I was the most stable patient (after the first day, especially), so in some ways, I think one or two of the nurses felt I was fine enough on my own and they didn’t need to give me the attention they gave others. I COMPLETELY understand this, as people in the ICU are generally VERY sick, and I was only kind of sick. By the second day, I could get out of bed, eat and go to the bathroom, not to mention talk and make my needs known, all of which are not generally things people in the ICU can do. However, I still needed help getting out of bed, I still needed help with positioning, among other things (including pain meds, since I was only on IV morphine then).
One of the ICU nurses in particular was super awesome and spent a fair bit of time with me/us, making sure I was comfortable, and also making sure I was making progress with getting up and about, going to the bathroom, etc. You could tell she enjoyed having a patient she could actually talk to. She was the one who helped us move the next day to the new room and even gave me a hug when I left.
The second night nurse was my least favorite, even though she was still very competent and was actually the one who got me off morphine and on Vicodin (wooohoo!). She wasn’t bad at all (like the nurse from my childhood), but just busy and didn’t really want to take the time to help me as much as I might have liked. For example, being pregnant and having the surgery, I can only lay on my left side. Pregnant women, especially those as far along as me, can’t sleep on their backs because the weight of the baby and everything else is too much and cuts off important blood supply (plus, it just is uncomfortable!). I wouldn’t necessarily expect her to know this, as they NEVER get preggos in the ICU, as I learned, but she consistently ignored my careful pillow & bed arrangements every time she offered to “fix” my bed. This, in contrast to the first night nurse in the ICU who took 5 minutes to help me actually get REALLY comfortable. So comfy that I have been trying to replicate her pillow technique at home with little success. Needless to say, I got significantly less rest the second night than the first. Least Favorite Nurse also was the roughest with my wound cleaning, which Peter referenced in one of his posts. It was efficient, but not terribly comfortable.
ICU nurses were also VERY unsure as to how to handle my pregnancy. I had Labor and Delivery (L&D) nurses come up to monitor the baby frequently, and it was interesting to see both “kinds” of nurses on unfamiliar turf. I learned that L&D nurses were called to monitor pregnant patients in the ICU about once a year, so I felt very special! We learned a lot about what they are looking for in non-stress tests (NSTs) where they monitor contractions and heart rates, and happily, baby passed every one with flying colors, day or night, drugged or not 🙂
In the women’s ward, the nurses were perfectly comfortable with pregnant women but a little less with my surgical condition. The night nurse I had (who was also pregnant and was WONDERFUL) mentioned briefly that I was her “most unstable patient.” I thought that was pretty funny, as I had been the most stable in the ICU. No one was quite sure what to do with me! Although they might not have been as well-versed as the ICU nurses in post-op patients, I think it actually worked to my benefit, as they were very careful with my wound cleaning and the pain and stress of those cleanings was much less than in the ICU.
Another difference in the two wards was their view of my stay. In the ICU, obviously they want people out of there as quickly as possible, simply because it’s better not to have a long stay (apparently there is increased risk of infection, etc.). In the women’s ward, they have women who are there for MONTHS due to bed rest, so there is not the same sense of urgency to get people out. Ultimately, the decision rested with my doctor, but it was interesting to see the different philosophies of the two floors.
I will write about my experience with doctors next time, but don’t worry, it likely won’t be nearly as long!