Nurses

I thought quite a bit yesterday about what I would write next.  I don’t really have anything new to say about our loss, but it is still such an encompassing part of my life that I couldn’t think of anything else to write about.  So today I thought that I would reflect on a topic that had crossed my mind awhile ago, particularly when my doctor commented “It sounds like you had excellent care” when I had to recap my hospital experience.  This crossed my mind again during the uproar regarding some uneducated comments made on The View about Ms. Colorado’s monologue on her experiences as a nurse at the Miss America pageant – one comment in particular being “why is she wearing a doctor’s stethoscope?” (headdesk)

I had five nurses during my two-day hospital stay, with a new nurse every 12 hours.  I have to think that it was an act of grace (or careful planning on the part of the hospital staff) that I happened to have the right nurse for what I needed at the time.

The first nurse, Kelly, who was there when I was admitted had to cover the initial “hard stuff.”  We were in shock from what we had learned and she gently greeted us.  She had to give us a packet of information on loss from the hospital.  She was the one who had to inform us that we needed to call a funeral home.  She told us that a placard of a leaf with a teardrop were going to be placed on the door to the room so that anyone entering the room would know that we had experienced a loss.  And she took all of the blood for the testing that was done (that ended up revealing nothing).  She was with me when the initial medication was given for induction.  She treated us with the greatest compassion.

The second nurse came on shift at 7:00 p.m.  I do not remember her name.  That overnight shift was just a long wait.  I did not sleep longer than 30 minutes the entire night, but the nurse came when I pushed the call button for more ice chips, found the anesthesiologist whenever I needed an adjustment in pain meds, and was with me as two additional doses of induction medication were administered.

By 7:00 a.m. when the shift changed again, I was beyond exhausted and just wanted everything to be over.  Nancy came on shift and was a very motherly figure.  She told me how her husband had died at 52 of cancer, and how her children were grown.  It was during her shift that the anesthesiologist noticed that my heartbeat was irregular and an echocardiogram was wheeled in (which proved to be nothing).  It was during her shift that we knew I was getting closer to delivery, and medication was upped to speed things along.  Late in the afternoon, the doctor came in to describe what would happen and I remember telling Nancy that I was scared of being alone (that neither the doctor nor nurse would be present).  She sat and held my hand, while Ger held my other hand.  She was with me when I started to vomit uncontrollably and knew to call the doctor in so that he was there.  After the delivery, while we waited for the placenta to detach (which didn’t end up happening) she talked to both Ger and I – told us about going to nursing school and getting her master’s degree while we had to wait for time to pass again.  Before she left her shift at 7:00 p.m., she gave me a hug.

Theresa came on shift and it was determined that I was going to need to go to the OR for a D&C to remove the placenta.  She probably had the most demanding of jobs – helping to get me wheeled into the OR, following us there.  I was knocked out for the procedure, but she was there for more than an hour after in an unbearable recovery room.  She supported my insistence on getting up and moving around as quickly as possible and getting my catheter removed – even when that insistence came at around 2:00 a.m.  Nancy had communicated to Theresa when she came on duty that my heartbeat had been irregular and I heard Theresa tell multiple people before and after the OR that this had been the case – I was impressed with the level of communication.  She was efficient and attentive the whole time.

At 7:00 a.m., Theresa #2 arrived to relieve Theresa #1.  It was somewhat fitting that I was desperate to leave the entire experience behind at that point and Theresa #2 was the least engaging of them all.  As she removed the I.V. when I was finally discharged, she did not realize that the I.V. had two needles and thought she was pulling it free, when it actually still had a needle inserted, so I began to bleed profusely from my hand.  I thought “Well, what a fitting end to my hospital stay.”

In the days following, when I began to lactate and needed to quickly suppress milk production, one of my friends who is a nurse reached out to me with some suggestions, even getting feedback from a lactation consultant at her hospital to help.

In the aftermath of the inappropriate comments made on The View, I tweeted: “A nurse held my hand during the most difficult experience of my life.  @TheView should be ashamed.”  As I read through the stories and comments from nurses – both my friends and strangers – I had a deepened appreciation for the profession.  Before, my longest interactions with nurses had been during my previous hospital stays for my two c-sections.  But this experience showed me how strong nurses had to be to help me through an event of sorrow as well.  I remember thinking multiple times as I lay in the hospital that I could not do that – I could not watch someone in so much emotional pain and not break down myself. I admired their strength to continue to do their jobs and be a rock of support.