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Does Anyone Else Suddenly Have Sweaty Palms?

, , , , , | Healthy | January 17, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Needles

I’ve had a chronic illness since I was a baby, which has caused me to experience a lot of medical tests and treatments. When I was thirteen, I had a medical event and started breathing abnormally. My mom had to call 911, and I was taken to a children’s hospital. I was immediately admitted and put in a private room. I had a few tests, was put on oxygen, and was hooked up to a bunch of monitors. Then, a new nurse came in.

Nurse: *Visibly nervous* “Hi. I’m going to take some blood today.”

Me: “Okay, it’s no problem. I’m used to bloodwork and stuff.”

The nurse continued to look uncomfortable and started shuffling around the room, getting out supplies. I noticed that the needle he pulled out was really unusual, as it was extremely large and wasn’t an IV needle, which is what is usually used for blood work when someone is admitted to a hospital.

He sat down, and I could see that his hands were shaking violently. He put a large white towel under my arm and cleaned my entire arm with orange antiseptic, the kind used for surgical sites.

Me: “Why are you using that? Why not just use the regular alcohol wipes?”

He didn’t answer but started putting a tourniquet on my arm and handed me a stress ball.

Nurse: “Squeeze that as hard as you can.”

The nurse unwrapped the needle and I could fully see the size of it. It was enormous, and my heart started pounding. I’d never seen a needle like it, despite having constant IVs and blood draws throughout my life.

The nurse was now trembling like a leaf in the wind.

Nurse: “This is going to hurt… a lot. Stay still; that’s really important. Don’t move at all, even if it hurts.”

Me: “Okay…”

I was terrified. I had no idea what was going on or why a simple blood draw would hurt so badly.

Nurse: “Breathe in… and out…”

As I let my breath out, the nurse (still with shaking hands) held my wrist down and plunged the needle into my forearm. It was put in at a strange angle, pretty much at a full ninety degrees, and was stuck in very deep and forcefully. I was immediately overwhelmed with pain, my vision started tunneling, and it took every molecule of effort I had not to move or scream. It seemed like it took forever, but eventually, the tubes filled with blood and he pulled the needle out. Then, he just bandaged my arm and left, without acknowledging anything that had just happened.

I was fully weirded out by the entire experience. I was certain, at the time, that the nurse was incompetent or something, especially since he seemed so nervous.

It wasn’t until a full eight years later that I found out what even happened! I recently requested a copy of my records from that hospital and saw the write-up from that visit. I was floored to see that the test they were actually performing was an arterial blood gas (ABS)! In the test, a large needle is put straight into an artery, and it is considered to be extremely painful — so painful that it is unethical to perform it on anyone without giving them local anesthetic first. Not only was I not given local anesthetic (AS A CHILD AT A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL), but nobody bothered to even explain what was going to happen, what test they were performing, or that it was any different than a regular blood draw or IV.

It truly was one of the most memorable (and horrible) things I’ve ever experienced in a medical setting, and I never went back to that hospital.

Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 15

, , , , , , | Healthy | January 14, 2022

I’ve had a severe chronic illness since I was a baby. Due to this, growing up, I spent a lot of time in different hospitals and medical offices and have had a wide variety of treatments and tests.

When I was around ten years old, I was due to have an MRI of my brain. I was pretty nervous about it, especially since I needed IV contrast and wasn’t sure how I’d handle the whole “laying super still in a confined space for several hours” thing. There was also a layer of extra anxiety for me, since they were looking for brain cancer.

I was also told before the appointment that I could bring a few DVD movies which could be played for me to watch during the scan to keep me calm and distracted.

Nurse: “Hello! So, you’re here for an MRI, right?”

Me: “Yes.”

Nurse: “Okay, go ahead into the changing room to put on your gown, and make sure to leave all your belongings in there, too. When you’re ready, go through the door on the other side, and that’ll lead you right into the MRI room. Oh, also, did you bring any movies to play during the scan?”

Me: “Yes, they’re here.”

I handed them to her and then went into the changing room. After I put on my gown, I pushed my way through the door to the MRI room and was immediately rendered speechless. The walls of the room seemed to be made of wall-to-ceiling digital screens, and playing on the screens was a scene of the ocean with fish darting around and whales floating by. On top of that, the MRI machine had been turned a blue color to match the scenery.

I was totally surprised and just went to pieces, smiling and crying, and I could feel my anxiety and nerves melting away. One of the nurses was sort of hovering nearby and watching my reaction.

Me: “How…?”

Nurse: “Since this is a children’s hospital, the screens were put in to help children feel better about getting scans done, and to reduce the number of kids that need to be sedated.”

Me: “Wow, but… how did you know that I love the ocean?”

Nurse: “Well, we noticed that all three of the movies you gave us were about the ocean, so we assumed that you like the water and that seeing the fish might help you feel calmer.”

Me: “Gosh, thank you so much! I hadn’t even noticed that all of my movies were about the ocean!”

The scenery did make me feel better, and I wasn’t nervous at all after seeing it. I managed to last the entire MRI without freaking out or moving and was able to see the scenery and my movies through a small mirror inside the helmet that I had to wear during the scan.

Honestly, the kindness of those nurses left a huge impact on me, and I consider it to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I still think about it now, as an adult, especially since most hospital nurses are overworked and have chaotic schedules. I know that noticing a tiny detail about me, and then intentionally going out of their way to help me feel better was immeasurably kind. I’ve had many MRIs after this, none of them with the special screens and effects, but I’ve never felt nervous about them, and I think it’s because my first MRI wasn’t nearly as traumatizing as it could have been.

Related:
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 14
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 13
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 12
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 11
Why Nurses Should Rule The World, Part 10

We Need Rubber Glove Balloons! STAT!

, , , | Healthy | January 8, 2022

After graduating college, I thought I was lucky enough to get a management position with a company on the Forbes 500 list. In all honesty, I am just a glorified dispatcher handling one of the departments in one of the hospitals in the inner city of a very old, old historic city.

In most hospitals, there is something called a priority list: who goes first in any situation. Number one priority are intensive care patients, codes, STATs, and traumas. Next is operating room patients, special procedures, people going to XRAY, Cat Scan, etc. On the very bottom is equipment — things like the pumps used to give people an IV.

Our primary customer is the hospital. We live and breathe to serve the hospital.

Here is a REAL conversation I had with one of the hospital personnel. I have MANY conversations like this daily.

Nurse: “Hello, I am calling from [Unit]. We called for some equipment an hour ago.”

Me: “Yes, I am sorry for the wait, but we currently do not have anyone available to bring that equipment up. As soon as we do, I will make sure it gets to you.”

Nurse: “Well, why is no one available?”

Me: “They are handling other patients in the hospital.”

Nurse: “My equipment is more important.”

Me: “I am sorry, ma’am, but the hospital has strict priority standards that we have to stick to.”

Nurse: “Yes, but this equipment is for a patient.”

Me: “Yes, I understand that, but unfortunately, we have had several ICU patients that have had to go down to testing units. In fact, we just received a call for a STAT (very important) ICU to go down for an emergency test for complications.”

Nurse: “Well, equipment should come before anything, as it is for a patient. This is a problem; it needs to change. I want to complain!”

Me: “If I am understanding you correctly, ma’am, you would like things such as a wheelchair, a stretcher, or a pump to come before a patient that is profusely bleeding?”

Nurse: “Yes! The equipment is for the patient. It’s just as important!”

Me: *In disbelief* “Well, I would like to apologize again for the wait, but we will get the equipment up to you as soon as we are able to. Goodbye.” *Click*

Isn’t it nice to know that the next person taking care of you could be this nurse who values an inanimate object over getting you down to a testing procedure that could save your life?

Sometimes I wonder what was worse: retail or hospital customer service.

There Is Nothing Like A Nurse

, , , , , , , | Healthy | December 20, 2021

I’m a generally agreeable person but I can tell you that hospital visits generally put people a bit on their bad side. I’m actually amazed at the patience of the nurses and other personnel. I’m writing this during my second trip to the hospital via ER in three weeks.

The first time, I called 911 at 1:00 AM and then called my daughter to lock up my house and take care of my dog. The last thing I remember was blacking out in the ambulance. I was given Propofol, a sedative, and only remember some brief discussion and cutting off my shirt.

I woke about thirty-six hours later, a little disoriented, of course. I had pneumonia. A nurse gave some instructions. Then, a short bit later, another nurse came in to do something… nursey… and then she looked over why I’m there.

Nurse #1: “Oh, you’re the guy!”

Me: “I’m what guy?”

Nurse #1: “Well, I heard there was someone on this side of the ICU that ripped out of his restraints and removed his own breathing tube. Nobody’s ever done that before.”

Me: “I did?”

Nurse #1: “Yes. Apparently, you were ranting about being kidnapped. A doctor talked you down and you passed out again.”

A few days later, I did notice bruises on my hands that had to be caused by my Hulk routine. Over the next few days, though, I found nurses coming to my room and lingering. This seemed strange to me. Then, some nurse trainee (who was probably older than eighteen but looked sixteen or seventeen) was introduced to me. The other nurse left but she stuck around. We made a little small talk, and then I paused so she had the chance to go do her duties.

Trainee: “Can I stay here?”

Me: “Well, I guess. Don’t you have things to do?”

Trainee: “No. They don’t really give me much to do. I’m bored. Can I stay and talk?”

I figured, “Why not?” We chatted a while until she realized she couldn’t stay much longer. She bounced out of the room and down the hallway with a happy goodbye and more energy than I think I could ever muster in my entire life. Next day, one of the senior nurses was in my room and clearly not leaving and talking to me about… whatever.

Me: “Is it slow today?”

Nurse #2: “Yeah, it’s a bit slower than normal for some reason.”

Me: *After a pause* “Are you hiding?”

Nurse #2: *Blushing slightly* “Yes.”

Hospital visit number two, my daughter took me herself through the ER. My breathing capacity was probably a sixth of normal and I was suffering. But I simply cannot let go of my sense of humor.

Nurse #3: *Cheerfully* “How are you tonight?”

Me: “Is that the best question to ask someone in the E.R?”

Nurse #3: “Well, since you put it that way, I guess not.”

Me: “You realize I’m teasing you? It’s a good question. But to answer it properly, I can barely breathe. Otherwise, most of the rest of me is intact.”

I got my comeuppance. The next morning, a nurse come to do something else nursey. Everyone was in masks, so I didn’t recognize her at first.

Nurse #3: “Hi. I’d ask how you’re doing, but someone last night told me I shouldn’t do that.”

When I realized who it was I blushed and laughed. I should mention that the staff at the hospital are all remarkably friendly and wonderful.

Finally, today, I was talking with my nurse. It’s clear I only need one more night here to work with a CPAP machine.

Me: “I think I’m being released tomorrow.”

Nurse #4: “I hope not. I hope you’re here through Monday.”

I was thinking to myself, “Does he really think I need that much treatment? Do they want more money?” So, I just asked:

Me: “Why is that?”

Nurse #4: “You’re an easy patient.”

At that point, through the walls, we heard the terrible wailing of another patient.

Me: “Great. So to get out of here earlier, I just have to be cranky?”

They are all great people… BUT I WANNA GO HOME!

The Anticipation Is Usually Worse Than The Shot

, , , , , | Healthy | November 10, 2021

In Year Eight, all the girls in my school had to have what we called the “cancer jab”, which was administered during school hours. Logically, I knew I needed this jab to vaccinate against something and that not having it would be bad, but emotionally, I was a wreck.

I’d never had a jab without my dad present before, and on the day of the jab, I found out they weren’t using the painkiller cream I was used to. Combined with a rather severe phobia of being “stabbed” by needles — thanks, egg donor — and the rumours going around about the pain and numb arms other students were experiencing, I was not exactly looking forward to my class being called for ours.

Eventually, the time came, and we were led to a room of the school we had never been in before. There was a row of chairs and nurses, and they were calling out names in alphabetical order, which meant yet more waiting because my name was in the middle. I was trying not to watch the others get their jabs and trying to convince myself that I was not going to freak out. I had it all sorted out in my head. I was going to sit in that chair, the jab would magically just happen without me freaking out, and then I could leave.

This plan fell apart the moment I sat down. The nurse had to ask me questions rather than psychically knowing I had this phobia and wanted to just be stabbed quickly so I could leave. I answered all the questions, albeit kind of curtly, despite not seeing the point in most of them. Like, I was twelve; of course I wasn’t pregnant. Why would you even ask that? In hindsight, I know that all the nurses were kind and professional and non-judgemental the whole time, but Kid Me didn’t understand that yet.

After what felt like an eternity, the nurse asked if I was ready for the jab. Nope, I am not ever going to be ready to be stabbed, thank you very much. This question pretty much started me spiralling into a meltdown. Most of what happened next was a big fuzz of panic in my memory until my best friend came over and held my hand. Her class was called sometime after mine and she walked over after getting her own jab, so I’d been here a while.

Another nurse came over and tried to talk to me, and the first stood quietly far too close, and my friend was trying to be reassuring, and I “knew” I was being watched by all of the other students and maybe the other nurses, even though I couldn’t focus on them to check if they were actually looking. It was all far too much, but at least I could vaguely see and hear by then, even if the time between hearing words and understanding what they meant was far too long. The nurses also occasionally spoke to my friend, but I couldn’t focus on what they were saying.

I kept getting asked if I wanted the jab and I kept choking out that this was very much the opposite of what I wanted but I knew I needed to have the jab, though nowhere near as eloquently. Eventually, the other nurse told me that they could not force me to have the jab, but if I didn’t have it, then they’d have to tell my dad that I’d refused it.

I did not want them to tell my dad. I was supposed to have this vaccine, so refusing it was a bad thing to do. I didn’t want my dad to know I was being bad because that would lead to lectures and not being allowed on the game consoles. So, I managed to pull myself together enough to stop rocking while one nurse held my arm still and my friend kept her grip on my hand. And then, while my eyes were squeezed shut and looking in the opposite direction, the other nurse administered the jab.

It didn’t hurt as much as it should have. I still felt it, so I know I had the jab. But it confused me because there was supposed to be so much more pain. I knew what needles felt like; I had memories as recently as five years earlier where the entire memory consisted of pain and hurt and dread and screams. This couldn’t be over yet. I kept asking the nurses if it was really done, and they were all reassuring smiles and sent me on my way.

Someone asked my friend to escort me to room F11. There were quite a few autistic kids in our school, so we had a couple of rooms just for us, and this was one of them. My friend was allowed in with me even though she usually wasn’t, and we just sat there together until I’d calmed down and then talked until the school day ended.

Thankfully, my general phobia of needles has lessened to the point where I haven’t freaked out this bad in years, though my phobia of the specific kind of needle the egg donor used is still bad enough that I cannot physically say what kind it was.