The Other Side of the Call Bell

Posted under: family, health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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I work as a nursing unit secretary in both the intensive care and the step-down cardiology units at the hospital. I think I’m more cynical than I used to be. It’s easy to become complacent, and even judgmental toward patients. During one of my shifts an obese patient requested donuts, cookies and pie. Even if we did stock those items in the cardiology unit, I would not have given them to him. After receiving chest compressions and a defibrillator treatment in CICU, a patient sat up and asked for a cigarette. One night we had a patient suffering from alcohol withdrawals and undergoing detoxification. He kept yelling at everyone to get out of his house, and I had to call security when he jumped out of bed and threatened the nurses. Two rooms over another patient was constantly yelling…all night. She would scream “I want to go to sleep!” and “I want my meds!” After the nurse gave her some, she screamed “That ain’t enough!” Do these patients realize why they were admitted in the first place? I would like to say to them, “You brought this on yourself. I have no sympathy.” Nurse_BettyBoop

I answer the call bell when patients ring out. Patients push a button in their room which rings a box on my desk. I pick up the receiver and ask them what they need, then respond appropriately. It is often frustrating when the same few patients ring out constantly for seemingly trivial matters, monopolizing the time and attention of the RNs and CNAs. As often as I can, I try to help the patients myself rather than to call for the CNAs or nurses. I’ve noticed that the more I interact personally with the patients, the more compassionate and empathetic I feel toward them, and the more eager I am to help them. I understand how a nurse can develop a special bond with his/her patients. When the nurse takes on the responsibility of certain patients, he/she is accountable for them, takes ownership, and forms a connection with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2) May 21 2013


A Slow Decline

Posted under: health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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Brent has done a wonderful and thorough job recounting my health problems this past year through his blog. However, I wanted to share my experience from my own perspective, so here it is.

In early June of last year my endocrinologist diagnosed me with diabetes insipidus, in which the body doesn’t hold onto water as it should. Later that month I saw my primary care doctor for a gash on my shin that wasn’t healing.Zebra After taking my blood sugar, doing some lab tests, and consulting with my endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I went through the entire gamete of keeping close track of what I ate, counting my carbs, recognizing the symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia, checking by glucose levels, and giving myself insulin shots.

This was not the end of it. I was experiencing an onslaught of symptoms: problems with cognitive function (thought process/memory/concentration), lethargy, fatigue, muscle weakness and atrophy, abdominal fat accumulation, mood swings, anxiety, dizziness, loss of balance and coordination, easy bruising, slow healing wounds, weight loss, and increased blood pressure. Finally a state of severe confusion and disorientation in mid-August prompted my doctor to call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. Apparently my ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) levels were excessively high, causing high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This resulted in a diagnosis of severe cushing’s syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17) May 14 2013


Stitched, Screwed, and Glued

Posted under: health.
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Ready to roam the hospital corridor

Ready to roam the hospital corridor

Now that my neurosurgeon has removed a significant amount of my pituitary tumor, screwed the front of my skull back into place, and properly stitched the skin around the side of my face together; I feel like a new woman. Either that, or Frankenstein. I think it merits super powers or something. So far though, I haven’t noticed anything extraordinary.

On August 25th I went in for my supra orbital craniotomy. The operation lasted three hours. Amelia, who went through the CNA training course with me, was my CNA again. She took care of me when I was admitted for my transsphenoidal surgery in May. Brent was great at keeping me company. Dr. Florman suggested he bring the girls to see me before my face started bruising up. I guess he thought it might scare them. It was nice to have them there, and they were great, as usual. My friend Maggie came to visit me several times. She helped teach my CNA training course, and she also works with me in the cardiology unit. She made me a delicious strawberry shake and got the girls treats as well. She is awesome! Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12) Sep 23 2009


Supra-Orbital Craniotomy

Posted under: health.
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The transsphenoidal operation I had this past May was unsuccessful in removing the tumor (a macroadenoma) from my pituitary gland. According to my MRI, the tumor had moved up, and Dr. Florman, my neurosurgeon, wasn’t able to get to it through the nose.

We previously discussed having radiation therapy to slow down the tumor growth. However there is a risk of damaging the surrounding healthy cells and nerves. The optic nerves in front of it are especially sensitive. Dr. Florman strongly recommended that I have a supra-orbital craniotomy so that he could effectively remove enough of the tumor to allow for safer radiation therapy. Before agreeing to this type of surgery, I decided to get at least one other opinion. I saw Dr. Christensen, a neurosurgeon in Lewiston, Maine, who concurred with Dr. Florman. He held high regard for Dr. Florman and believed him to be the best for this particular surgery. I was discouraged that I really do need to undergo the surgery, yet I felt reassured that I am in good hands.

Dr. Florman explained to me the operation process, complete with the drilling, and insertion of plates and screws. It made me a little apprehensive, I admit. I am scheduled for surgery this Tuesday, August 25. This particular type of craniotomy is a subfrontal approach, so no (or very little) head shaving necessary. :-) Oh, and if someone asks me if I have a screw loose, I’ll simply say, “Uh, maybe.”

Comments (9) Aug 23 2009


Successful Surgery

Posted under: health.
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The transsphenoidal surgery to remove my pituitary macroadenoma went well, and I am happy to be home. Dr. Florman anticipated my hospital stay to be at least three to seven days, but I was discharged after only two days.

Dr. Oppenheim, the endocrinologist following me during my hospital stay, wanted to closely monitor my urine output and my salt-water balance. I stayed in the unit for post-operative and head trauma patients. It was a long corridor of beds separated by curtains. A head trauma patient was in a separate room next to me. She had been there a month after having been in a car accident. The nurse said that being young (early 20s), this patient would recover fairly quickly. She was still confused though, and was constantly yelling out which made it difficult for me to read or sleep. The nurse was kind enough to give me earplugs. :-)

Pituitary TumorI believe I benefited from having an ENT surgeon, Dr. Makaretz, assist in the nasal portion of my surgery. I was very apprehensive about his removing the nasal packing the next day because I still remember the painful, drawn-out process it had been when my neurosurgeon had done it a couple years ago. But when Dr. Makaretz removed the packing, it was hardly worse than a sneeze! After my first operation I had a cerebrospinal fluid leak which put me flat in bed for a week. Prior to my operation this time Dr. Makaretz took a fat graft from my abdomen to block my nasal sinus in order to prevent the leak. I don’t know how significant the fat graft was, but I did not have a CSF leak this time. When Brent asked why he left such a big scar on my belly, Dr. Makaretz explained that he had to dig deeper because there wasn’t enough fat. Sure, I bet that’s what he tells all the patients. ;-) I will see him in a week so that he can remove the sutures and shunts from my nose.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12) May 23 2009