Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Patients Are More Than Monitors - DARN IT!



I got some upsetting news about my friend in ICU from another friend this morning.  Too long to go into now and I am going to find out for myself shortly - I hope ..if friend in ICU is still talking.  She was as of this morning.

Turns out no one is with her most of the time.  Including a very important person who SHOULD BE as much as possible.  Obviously I can't discuss a lot.

BUT ..what has me really upset ..well besides some of the personal going on or NOT with her ...is I am wondering how attentive ICU is.  I always assumed that in ICU well that is where you actually have more attention and I assumed tlc.

I 100% believe that it is so important to have someone advocating for the patient when they are not able to for themselves.  My friend in ICU is a totally capable person that has helped many people in her life ...but now can't even lift a cup of water for her self.

I noticed when I was there the other night - Friday night that her lips and tongue were cracked and peeling.  She looked so DRY!

Some of you that have followed my blogging may recall how stressed I get because I cannot stand being NPO and it's not fro the food it is for the water.  I have had times I was on NPO so long that my throat began to stick when I swallowed and I was borderline panicking at that point.  It felt like it would maybe stay closed.  And my lips and tongue never looked like hers.  It only happened to me twice thank God.  Must just be my system.

So that night I asked the nurse if I could swab her mouth.  She said no and they've been doing it.  I looked back at friends mouth and lips and back at nurse.  But ...she looks so dry.  Nurse stated they have a white cream they put in her mouth to keep it moist.  I looked back at lips again.  Then I told her one story of how I had been NPO for a later surgery and then had to stay NPO in case I had to go back in to OR and back in my room my throat began to stick.  that is when they gave me swabs to use and ice chips and it helped so much.  I said it to maybe give her a clue that dryness could be farther down than mouth!

And believe me ...it does NOT matter if you have IV fluids going into your body because they are NOT going down your throat!  My heart breaks for any human being that cannot care for themselves and is at the mercy of pothers for their care and is suffering because the caretakers are oblivious to the needs of the patients.  Anyway ...I dropped it.  The nurse was very nice otherwise.

But I heard via a friend that some day nurses are cold, say nothing just do what they have to do and show no compassion.

My God!  Would it kill them to ..in a sweet compassionate voice say Hi M ..I'm here to do such and such.  Can I raise you up a bit ..Can I do this, etc.  Smile ..and if eyes not open then smile with their voice.  How about a compassionate hold the hand for a minute or rest their hand on her shoulder ..whatever.

I know short staffing, computers and all.  It's just that plants, grass, babies and people DIE without attention.  ids it that she's written off already because of the prognosis?  Is it because they have so many?  What?  I trust the friend who has witnessed it. 

And this is what really got me riled up.  It turns out she was allowed to have fluids and ice chips.  BUT ..she can't do it for her self.  NO ONE helped her.  So friend goes in and she asked friend for water.  Friend raised her head up a bit and M drank entire cup and a bit more.  She was so GRATEFUL for the drink of water!  WHY didn't any nursing staff KNOW she could not help herself and just MIGHT be THIRSTY?!

There's more.

Anyway ...I called ICU today ..knowing without the number they can't talk to me (I will get it tonight if friend is still communicating) and I said I knew that ..but I wanted to tell her my friend had been seriously thirsty and it was a friend that helped her and she doesn't have many visitors to help her.  'm not going to say what we discussed, but it was polite.

I will just say though... A PATIENT ...is MORE ...than MONITORS!

So ...it is a combination of what someone who should be at her side helping is not and things I know and what I feel is not an environment conducive to helping a patient thrive while she is fighting for her life.

Am I being an annoying non medical person who doesn't understand the business of medicine in ICU?  Maybe.  But isn't there also common sense, compassion and human dignity to be factored in?

Well ....I hope to do some of same when I go over or I will gladly do whatever she wants me to if she's awake or communicating.  maybe even brush her hair gently.  Human TOUCH is so very important.

Also, I saw with an aunt who was so weak dying of cancer that nursing staff was not checking on her.  We went out to get help.  maybe they knew we were there, but even then ...not all visitors are aware of the patient's needs.  Some can be pretty insensitive ...even with conversation.

And ...I know  ..some of you may think I am being unrealistic to think she could have a healing miracle.

But ...WHAT IF?  

What if  it could happen?

I'm not ready to write her off at all and will be positive as long as needed.  And if it comes to the point she discusses hospice - I will do that to.  I know those things are important and the patient needs to be able to say what they want/need to say when tying up lose ends or expressing feelings.  Years ago, one of my dear friends and mentor worked with death and dying patients and I am familiar with those things too.  But ...as far as I know ..M has not brought that up.

I will be praying  before I go in and if anyone else sees this ...please keep praying for her and also that medical staff and other people WILL BE attentive to her needs and comfort. 

 Thank you.

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