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Friday, October 22, 2010

My life exploded (Part II).

Night 1
My nurse, Sue, comes in. It's dark now, and the night shift staff has arrived. These are the people I normally work with.

The last time I worked with Sue I had been doing a 1:1 observation on one of her patients: a hyponatremic college student who had been admitted to our unit for the third time. He had intentionally been drinking water by the gallons and depriving himself of salt in his diet. I think he may have had some kind of psychogenic polydipsia going on but I don't know if that was an actual diagnosis. He was confused, hallucinating, and vomiting. I sat next to him all night, talked to him, cleaned the vomit off his body, changed his clothes, his sheets... Sue thanked me profusely for dealing with him and for being patient, revealing to me how much she hated working with psych patients. This isn't really unusual, a lot of nurses I know admit having little tolerance for "crazy patients," not to mention those who intentionally harm themselves.

So here I am, another psych patient. I wonder how many nurses and doctors I'm pissing off.

I have to pee. I ring my call bell; Sue comes over.

"Is it okay if I walk to the toilet?"
"Sure," she replies, untangling my IVs and monitor wires.

It is more effort to move around than I expected. I walk several steps and sit down on the toilet. Sue walks out of my room to give me some privacy.

I stare down at my blood-stained underwear. Awesome. I got my period. I sit there for a minute, wondering if there was such a thing as pre-menstrual insanity, and then ring my call bell again, this time requesting a pair of the disposable stretchy fishnet-type underwear that we give to OB/GYN patients. Sue returns with the (sort-of) underwear and some pads. The pads don't really stick to the underwear. This is going to be great. I have visions of me tossing and turning in bed, soiled maxi-pads stuck to my forehead and my bed becoming a bloodbath.

I stand up, empty my hat, flush the toilet, and report a 900ml void. It is too weird to have my coworkers dump and flush my pee.

I keep waking up to pee. I look up at a big bag of normal saline and realize that I have been receiving tons of fluids, which must explain my continued propensity to urinate. I feel guilty ringing the call bell, making someone come into my room. I'm probably fine to walk there myself.

I fall asleep, and wake up to some alarm going off on my monitor. Blood pressure, 68/41. I fall back asleep.

I wake up again, some other alarm on the monitor. I pulled off some of my EKG leads tossing and turning. I reconnect them and turn on my side, trying to get comfortable. One pops off again. I realize this is going to be an all-night affair.

1 comment:

  1. I always felt bad for my psych patients. Everyone always acted as though they "caused" their own problems, and maybe they did. It doesn't mean they don't deserve our empathy though.

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