Do nurses make bad patients?

  1. Ive been a RN for 14 years, and am 43. My background in nursing varies - child/maternal, L & D, psych, education, corrections... no med-surg. I am day 5 post op from a bilateral reduction mammoplasty.

    I guess my question is that I feel so damn lousy. Everyone seems to think I look great, it will be so much better in time, etc etc and I feel overwhelmed most of the time. I dont feel good, I dont feel in control... people joke and say "oh, you're a nurse... thats why". I dont get it.

    Im on Percoset which Im down to only at HS. I get the sweats, I get dizzy, I feel nausea sometimes. I feel like a HUGE pain in the a**. My pain is consistanly at a 3 or so but I cant stand the side effects of the meds so I take Ibuprofen. Which Im not sure does anything.

    I hate the way I look. I look like a victim of violent crime. I have cried a few times and feel foolish. I regret this whole thing. I was a 38 DDD with lots of back problems and I had all the right reasons but I feel like this has gone on forever already. And people tell me it will be months more before I feel differently...
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   veteranRN
    So sorry to hear the rough time your going through. I've heard other people say the same thing, about how awful they feel afterwards. I have trouble relating but the only surgery I've had was a lap tubal and couldn't believe that it still hurt 2-3 days later. I think maybe as nurses we simply have higher expectations for a quicker recovery.


    Best of luck
  4. by   karenG
    reduction mammoplasty always looks terrible post op because of the swelling and bruising. and its ok to feel terrible. it will be ok in a couple of month.. honest.

    in the mean time- if you want to sit and cry - go ahead!! right now youre a patient and you dont have to be brave!!

    Karen
  5. by   lilbiskit78
    Hi! I'm sorry you are going through a bad time right now. I wanted to respond to how you are feeling because I have had previous "elective surgery" and I know exactly how you are feeling right now. The first thing that went through my mind afterwards was "Oh my gosh, I look like a freak!!" As you know, it is extremely common to be in a depressive state after this kind of surgery, and wish you had never done it. But I promise you, it will get better. You made the right decision if you were having serious back trouble, and a few months from now you will be happier and all these bad feelings will be a distant memory. I know it's hard to believe right now, but take it from someone who has been there. Take care of yourself!

    Lil
  6. by   Kudra
    i'll be honest... i had my reduction 2 years ago and it took me at least a month to feel that i was getting back to normal... and then at least another 2 months to feel like my body was mine again... not only are you dealing with the physical change (and pain!), but there's the body image/emotional part of it as well... i cried so often in the first month because i just felt like i had made a huge mistake... i didn't realize that so much of my body image was wrapped up in my boobs... i hated my new boobs and the scars and everything that went with it... but eventually, they became "my" boobs again...

    2 years later, it truly was the best thing i ever did for myself... my self confidence has grown leaps and bounds... i love how they look, both in and out of clothes... and i feel more comfortable with my body... and best of all, no more back problems!

    beth
  7. by   Gompers
    It's not because you're a nurse. Breast reduction is a pretty serious operation. Mine took six hours, and believe me, I was sick as a dog from the anesthesia. The one thing that saved me was that they kept me overnight on full IV fluids for hydration. Nowadays they often do it outpatient, so when you feel nauseous at home and don't drink anything you end up feeling even worse. But like with any recovery, as the days go by you'll feel better.

    I also remember the day after surgery when they came to change my dressing for the first time. I was completely yellow, and not from betadine either. The bruising lasted about 2 weeks, and so did the oozing from parts of the incision. We're talking about HUNDREDS of stitches - and dissolving sutures or not, it still looks like a massacre at first!!! I couldn't believe I had done this to myself by choice! It took about 3 months for all the suture lines to heal. The only thing that hurt me was the Jackson-Pratt drains that they sutured into me on each side. The pulling and pinching was horrible!!! On post-op day 3 or 4, the doc pulled them in the office. Immediately my pain went away and I felt 100% better!!! Of course, my chest was totally numb for about 3 months, so that helped.

    But seriously, you'll feel better within a few weeks, and within a month or two, you're going to wonder why you waited so long to have the operation! They say reduction mammoplasty is the plastic surgery with the highest rate of patient satisfaction. Even with scars, it's a wonderful difference!

    Take care, and have a good recovery.
  8. by   CHATSDALE
    I Had A Lumpectomy In December And It Was Worse Than The Hysterecomy I Had Had Prevoiusly....i Can Only Imagine What Would Be Involved With Both Breasts How Much Actual Surgery Was Involved....as Other Posts Have Said It Will Get Better And Become A Really Bad Memory......you Need More Pain Killer Than You Are Getting Imo.....but To Be Honest As One Who Has Had Nurses And Mds As Patients They Are Really A Royal Pain....
  9. by   ayndim
    Quote from zacsmimi
    Ive been a RN for 14 years, and am 43. My background in nursing varies - child/maternal, L & D, psych, education, corrections... no med-surg. I am day 5 post op from a bilateral reduction mammoplasty.

    I guess my question is that I feel so damn lousy. Everyone seems to think I look great, it will be so much better in time, etc etc and I feel overwhelmed most of the time. I dont feel good, I dont feel in control... people joke and say "oh, you're a nurse... thats why". I dont get it.

    Im on Percoset which Im down to only at HS. I get the sweats, I get dizzy, I feel nausea sometimes. I feel like a HUGE pain in the a**. My pain is consistanly at a 3 or so but I cant stand the side effects of the meds so I take Ibuprofen. Which Im not sure does anything.

    I hate the way I look. I look like a victim of violent crime. I have cried a few times and feel foolish. I regret this whole thing. I was a 38 DDD with lots of back problems and I had all the right reasons but I feel like this has gone on forever already. And people tell me it will be months more before I feel differently...
    I hate percoset. The side effects are worse than the pain for me. Have you tried calling your dr for some different meds. You would do it for a patient so why not yourself. When I had surgery they gave me percoset. I hated it and called in. They switched my meds w/o any problems.

    I don't think nurses are bad patients only educated ones who know how it should be.
  10. by   Farkinott
    It sounds to me like most people have missed the point. She feels like crap and prbably needs a bit of moral support, more so than "It wass the right thing to do". This lady is going through an emotional time and may have thoughts that with the pain/discomfort she is experiencing now that the op wasn't worth having. It sounds like she has been missing out on the "caring" element of nursing. I could be wrong, but then again I could be right.

    Keep your chin up. Things will get better a little each day. Sometimes it is your best interest not to let anyone know when you are a nurse. Many nurses do seem to think it is easier for you to be a patient. In reality I think, it is worse when you are a nurse. You have an intimate knowledge of how things go and this can bring fears into your head where the general public dwells in ignorant bliss. When I have nursed colleagues I have gone out f my way to assuage any worry or concern because it is harder to handle when you are on the "receiving" side of the fence.

    Have you tried Tramadol for the physical pain? It is a non narcotic but brings fantastic relief.
  11. by   zacsmimi
    Quote from Farkinott
    It sounds to me like most people have missed the point. She feels like crap and prbably needs a bit of moral support, more so than "It wass the right thing to do". This lady is going through an emotional time and may have thoughts that with the pain/discomfort she is experiencing now that the op wasn't worth having. It sounds like she has been missing out on the "caring" element of nursing. I could be wrong, but then again I could be right.

    Keep your chin up. Things will get better a little each day. Sometimes it is your best interest not to let anyone know when you are a nurse. Many nurses do seem to think it is easier for you to be a patient. In reality I think, it is worse when you are a nurse. You have an intimate knowledge of how things go and this can bring fears into your head where the general public dwells in ignorant bliss. When I have nursed colleagues I have gone out f my way to assuage any worry or concern because it is harder to handle when you are on the "receiving" side of the fence.

    Have you tried Tramadol for the physical pain? It is a non narcotic but brings fantastic relief.
    Wow. You hit the nail right on the head, You are right, I guess, Im needing more moral support although having so many people respond really feels good. Im unfamiliar with Tramadol but will look into it right away...
    Its hard to stand firm with my choice when I feel weak and uncertain, especially knowing that this was "elective"... and I AM afraid of all the stuff no one mentions because of that "ignorant bliss." Thanks so much.
  12. by   moia
    I know exactly what you mean. I had a recent back surgery, not elective but I felt the same way.
    I felt like as a nurse I didn't get the same attention from the other nurses that a civilian would get...I was so concerned about being a really good patient and not upsetting anyone.....I was prescribed tylenol3 after surgery and I had to tell them I just can't tolerate them because of the caffeine.......I don't mind plain codeine it's just that the caffeine in two tylenol 3's makes me feel crazy and itchy....they then offered percocet which is an awful drug...I don't know what is in it but it makes me crazier than all the caffeine....it just makes me feel desperate and anxious and nauseated........they had to send down the resident and finally I just went with the t3's and had to get my husband to pull over on the way home so I could be sick.

    I think nurses looking after nurses just assume you know stuff and are really quickly frustrated ....like we should know better..so you don't get the kind of post op teaching that would give you some idea of how bad the next week of recovery is going to be......it's always a surprise...I was so sick and I was way too embarrassed to ask if this was normal....
    I didn't get any post op instructions except not to have a bath for 2 weeks...


    I wish nurses would just treat me like everybody else and assume I haven't got a clue about looking after myself...that way I would get a good education about what to expect....I imagine if a nurse had told you that you were going to be really really sore for a good two weeks and badly bruised but that in a month you should see a huge difference you could have a better less traumatic first week...it's all about knowing what to expect and what "normal" looks like and that you WILL begin to recover......


    even nurses need to be reassurred that everything is going to be alright and that our decisions are good ones...
  13. by   zacsmimi
    Thanks for everyone's support. I did go in for my 1 week check up, got my meds changed, asked every single question I could think of; and am feeling much more myself. Was somewhat surprised to learn that if a patient is depressed (i.e., on meds) MUCH more likely to crash first week after surgery... now just to deal with incisions = I know very little about wound healing but there is alot of slough and I remember new material saying it should be debrided and wet dressings?
  14. by   Jamesdotter
    >>I wish nurses would just treat me like everybody else and assume I haven't got a clue about looking after myself...<<

    I've always tried to do that with my MD & RN patients on OB. Other than feeling free to use technical language (read "jargon") I'd go through all the same information that I would use with any first-time mom. It usually works well, for the most part.

    I'm happy to hear that you're feeling better. It's always good, I think, to hear from someone who's been there, done that, etc.
    Last edit by Jamesdotter on Jul 18, '04

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