The frustration with hospitals is that they are in the business of treating patients instead of people and those closest to the front lines, nurses and technicians, get caught in the political middle … but the body that pays is the one strapped to a bed completely dependent upon those around him.
FRIDAY late afternoon: Our surgeon said he wanted Hook to be moved from the bed to a chair and that he “will make a note of it to the nurses.” He said that the longer Hook stays immobile, the harder it will be for him to get moving.
SATURDAY 12:26PM: The doctor ‘on call’ tells Kelly Scott (my stand-in) that Hook will remain in ICU until Monday. This is longer than expected. Later in the evening, long after I return to the hospital, I learn that the extended stay in ICU was due to some issue with Hook’s lungs.
SATURDAY 3:00PM Kelly Scott leaves to go pick up pizza to thank the ICU staff for taking care of Hook. We find out later that Nurse Michael was off for the day, Nurse Stephanie wasn’t in yet, and Hook was going to be moved from ICU in a couple of hours. So unfortunately an unknown team got thanked but I’m sure they earned it with someone else. Note to self: scratch future suggestions of pizza.
SATURDAY 5:00PM I mention to Hook’s new day nurse, Norma, that he was supposed to be moved from the bed to a chair per the surgeon’s orders yesterday. She says she will look for the orders. Instead, two technicians come in and adjust the bed into a full sitting position. This works for now but all of Hook’s limbs are swollen and our surgeon said it was important that by day 3 he be physically up and off the bed.
SATURDAY 6:00PM-8:00PM Hook waits in limbo to be assigned out of ICU and into IMC (Intermediate Care) because someone worse off than him needs to be in the ICU. All of a sudden the ‘lung problem’ is “okay.” Neither Norma nor Stephanie is allowed to claim Hook as their patient so I have no GO TO person to go to for help. I ask again about getting Hook up and out of the bed to anyone who will listen and I’m told I have to wait until a new nurse is assigned which we are told will be Vance, oh wait, no, that is the technician not the nurse, but wait some more, it won’t be Vance but Mark or Kyle or some other random name. Our new tech does not end up being any of those people.
SATURDAY 8:00PM The ICU floor nurse barks at me to give them space in the room because a team of 4 have entered to prepare Hook to be moved to a new bed. I’m actually okay with this because it means someone is in charge now. I don’t leave the room as Nurse Ratched demands because not one of the people in the room has been someone who has been attending to Hook for the past 72 hours. They’re asking each other questions that sound like they hope someone in the room knows the answer. I helicopter the entire process with a watchful eye as they wheel Hook to his new room: 232.
SATURDAY/SUNDAY 8:00PM-4:00AM Nurse Daniel introduces himself as our new night nurse. Throughout the night, I whisper stories to Daniel about Hook: who he is, why he’s here, what he does for a living. When Hook is awake, Daniel shares why he decided to be a nurse: “I wanted to help people,” he said. “I know that sounds trite, but I really enjoy it. The first time I saw a cranium being cut into, I was hooked.” I hope Daniel is not a fan of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
SUNDAY 5:00AM I introduce Nurse Daniel to the infamous Elton John song, Daniel. Hook has a Norman Thayer moment when he grumbles, “How can you not know the song, Daniel? You know Elton John dontcha?” I intervene with a rub to Hook’s head, “He’s from a different generation, honey,” and Nurse Daniel responds, “Oh, is it an old song?” I glance at Hook and give him the squinted eye that says he’s not to respond, but he mumbles something about Bernie Taupin and what’s the world coming to when people don’t know Elton John songs. My baby is back!
Correction: Nurse Daniel knew who Elton John was. He just hadn’t heard the song, Daniel, before.
SUNDAY 6:00AM-8:00AM Nurse Kate introduced herself as our day nurse. She has a master’s in nurse administration, is interested in training, and she teaches from time to time at Austin Community College. After Daniel brings her up to date on the stats, I bring her up-to-date on what needs to happen: get Hook up and out of the bed. Kate said she can’t do that without a doctor’s order and I run through how the order should have been put through 24 hours ago and if it wasn’t, will she please call the surgeon and get the order. Kate seems sweet but hesitant to pick up the phone and call the surgeon. I can’t have a nurse who’s afraid to call the doctors.
SUNDAY 9:35AM Kate has been in and out and she’s getting the basics in order. Hook has been moved around on the bed but these are non-ICU beds so they cannot be manipulated into a full sitting position. I’ll give Kate until 12Noon to pick up that phone and call the surgeon. I have the surgeon’s cell number from his business card but I think it would be better for the nurse to call.
SUNDAY 10:00AM Kate has talked to the on call doctor and has gotten the approval to at least move Hook into a physical sitting position on the side of the bed. If he doesn’t feel drowsy, he’ll be moved onto the recliner.
VISITING HOURS: None in Room 232 and I would hold on sending any cards to this room either because Hook will only be here 2-3 days before he is moved again. But if you send a card to the P.O. Box 151240, Austin, TX 78715-1240, I’ll be sure to pick up.