PULL THE PLUG!

pull for help

You can pull that cord smack out of the wall and nobody in this hospital is gonna come anytime soon. Same goes for the handheld remote they give you with a large, red “NURSE” button. It’s all an illusion. Now, I am very grateful for the new knee, which my surgeon just put in. However, I was quite unprepared for the treatment that would follow.

 My nurse, Idga, (short for I Don’t Give A), helps me to the bathroom for a quick pee and disappears. As I gingerly sit down, the seat suddenly lurches sideways, sending a wrenching pain up my operated leg. Since Idga told me “not to move” without her, I pull the cord and wait. No one comes. Eventually, I maneuver myself to a stand by gripping the sink and pull it again. Nothing. Nervously, I call out, “Hello?” Finally, unable to stand much longer, I yodel, “You Who” in my loudest, operatic soprano.

 Idga swishes in. “You’re not supposed to walk on your own!” she scolds.

 “Well, the cord doesn’t work because I pulled and pulled and no one came.”

 “The cord works perfectly fine,” she hisses. “There are other people in this hospital besides you!”

 During my stay, Idga refuses to give me my pajamas so I can take off the itchy hospital gown, places the blood drain from my knee on the tray where I’m eating, purposely unplugs my iPhone and ignores my pleas for pain meds. When my husband insists that she give me ‘something,’ she grabs Toradol and shoves it into my IV so fast that the pain makes me gasp. “Inject Toradol by IV bolus over no less than 15 seconds,” Google says, otherwise it burns entering the vein.  Yup.

 Ironically, the hospital that impeccably sanitized me BEFORE my operation paid zippo attention to hygiene afterwards. Several people handle a breathing apparatus that I’m supposed to use to avoid pneumonia. One even drops it on the floor and hands it back to me. When Idga changes my bandage, she drops the gauze on the floor, picks it up and slaps it over my wound. (I know the floor is filthy because the yellow socks they insist I wear are black after only a few trips to the bathroom). The first afternoon, I throw up into the trashcan next to my bed and ask everyone, including Idga, to please take it out. It even has a removable, plastic liner but remains right there until I leave three days later.

 So, should you find yourself in a hospital, please be better prepared than I was:

  1.  Hit ‘record’ on your iPhone right at the get go when your nurse comes in. Explain that you’re making a documentary on ‘kindness and compassion.’
  2. Bring earplugs to deafen the constant noise from the floor loudspeaker, an eye patch to shut out the light from countless people coming and going and antibacterial wipes for your bed rails, door knobs and anything you touch!
  3. Bring your own water. The stuff they give you tastes like something from an airplane sink.  Actually, it’s worse.
  4. Keep your overnight bag within reach.  Otherwise, you may wrench off your hospital garb and be stark naked when you discover that you need your PJ’s.
  5. Bring an advocate, a whistle and a sense of humor if you plan to survive.  

 P. S.  The following day, a nice, young man–not hospital personnel–actually fixed my toilet seat!!

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12 thoughts on “PULL THE PLUG!

  1. You need to send that to the investigative reporter at the local paper. Not acceptable under any circumstances. So sorry you had to go through that, but if it’s any consolation, I had a similar experience when I got my new hip 3 years ago. Incompetence, apathy, indifference abound when you are underpaid and overworked and there’s no oversight or supervision.

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  2. That’s awful. I’ve been in the hospital a few times and have always been treated very well. I would be writing a letter to someone important in that hospital if I were treated the way you were!

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  3. And they wonder why many of us in our advanced years hate to go to hospitals. Hopefully this will be your last time going to a hospital and that it will be years before you have to go again – if ever.

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  4. Helen, this sounds terrible. Having spent time in the hospital with Dean, I completely understand the frustration and the inadequacies of care. Unfortunately more often than not hospitals are the worst places to be to recover. Care was much improved after a discussion with the nurse supervisor, but fortunately we didn’t have to spend a second night. Btw Idga has a sister at El Camino Hospital. Her name is Mabel.

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  5. I remember one of my many surgeries noticing bug bites on my leg after. Apparently hospitals are one of the most common places to get bed bugs too. Who knew? My nurse should have left a bed pan so I could pee, because it took her so long to get there for assistance to the bathroom. I hope you are in a better environment now.

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