On the other side of the IV

  1. So I'm sitting here waiting at 4am for my Lortab elixir to kick in and I thought I'd share my experience as a patient today--

    On the other side of the IV

    First, I'm an RN in Med/Surg/Onc/Tele with 2 years experience. I take care of post ops everyday, but I was still very scared going to OR as I've never had anything done myself. I went and signed in, and the clerk was helpful as I was in the wrong section of our big hospital. My mom and I were walked down to the right room, and I was all checked in. Then they brought me back alone, weighed me, and did a pregnancy test, asked me the most embarrassing questions alone, got me in a gown, and THEN brought my mom back. I was impressed at the considerate behavior.

    After the usual pre-op screens, pepcid, decadron, and versed IV, I wasbrought back to the OR. The staff was jovial, teasing me about being skinny, and the next thing I knew I was under. The next thing I remember was being in PACU. I couldn't talk at all. Mind you, this was a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. I was in excruciating pain and I started bawling. I felt like I was still on fire from the cauterizing machine.

    The RN says to me "WHY ARE YOU CRYING???" Then, my anesthesiologist apparently heard my commotion and backed me up and asked the nurse what was going on.

    So, in my post op brilliancy I remembered that I could make non verbal signs of pain. I squeezed my eyes shut, clenched my fists, curled my toes, and furrowed my brows. Then I started heaving and the RN says "SONJAILANA, SIT DOWN." OMG!!

    Should I lay down to vomit so it can go in my lungs??

    Finally she gave me 1.5 mg of dilaudid and 12.5mg of phenergan. My pressure was 140/80 and I usually run 110/60. I was disappointed with my RN because I always expected a PACU RN to be assessing my pain level and actually ask me what it is, instead of assume that for a small procedure it was nothing. I had to ask for an ice collar, ask for ice chips, and a tonsil tip (haha) suction for all my drool.

    I think I must have finally gotten the drugs, because my nurse was nowhere to be found, and I kept waking up to myself desatting into the mid 80's, with no nasal cannula to be found ( I would have put it back on if I could have). Whenever I get report from PACU nurses, they're right there with the patient, but I can only guess where my nurse went to do it.

    Next, I went to Short Stay. The nurse immediately asked if I was pain. Again, the bawling started and I was looking for my mom. I kept trying to talk but I couldn't. She explained that I had local anesthesia, intubation, and general, and even at 24, still had adenoids that had to come out. She explained that the coordination of my throat muscles would be poor for several hours, and that's why I couldn't talk.

    Next time I opened my eyes, my mom was at my side and morphine was going in my IV. Next set of vitals, sherbet and reassurance. I was much more pleased and then she started me on po meds with a popsicle. Someone was there holding my arm when I needed to use the restroom and guiding me when I was so dizzy.

    Even better, I wasn't pushed out the door. My RN suggested I take a nap to see if it would help some of my nausea and fogginess wear off.

    I went home and felt pretty good and pushed the limit on full liquids. Around 10pm the decadron seemed to be wearing off my uvula is the size of a small finger. The pain is intense, but I'm waking every 4 hours to take my lortab elixir, drink some water, and change my ice bag and humidifier.

    All things considered I'm happy with my experience at my own hospital..and I'll remember that pain is what the patient says it is!
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 18, '18
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    14 Comments

  3. by   Silverdragon102
    I was 27 when I had my tonsils out (only them) and remember it like you
  4. by   cjsbaskets
    I remember the doctor telling me the older you are the more it hurts, I was 21, and it hurt like he**. It is interesting and not always pleasant to be a nurse who becomes a patient, always a learning experience. Feel better.
  5. by   Medic/Nurse
    So Sorry that you are going through this - and I KNOW that the T & A is BAD regardless and so much WORSE when you are a nurse.

    I ultimately had the same surgery in August 2008 - and I thought I was going to die in the hospital - admitted and de'sated, poor pain control and ding bat nurses. So, I promise this ---- it will get better. Maybe not right away, but in about 10 days IT WILL BE BETTER. You will be a much better nurse for having lost your Tonsils and Adenoids. Really.

    As for the poor care - there will be the right time/place to discuss it with those "in charge". Not to narc anyone out - but, you deserved better - the patients that will come after you DESERVE better. Help see that the mistakes made with you are not repeated.

    I thought I knew what was what and what to do/how to intervene. I was wrong. I am very good at what I do - I just overestimated my ability to advocate for myself when I was the patient. Luckily, this was "minor" - I learned many lessons with my stint as a patient that will save my life in the future --- if the need arises.

    Hope to your speedy recovery. I promise you will recover. PO Dilaudid and Tylenol suspension - add some more steroids and you will mend. I also found that antiboitics made a difference (after the 3rd day - I was not "infected" but I was fevery and felt like I would be better off dead!) Drinking anything sucks - but take in as much fluids as you can. Take the meds in advance of the pain - once behind it is tough to catch. No heroics - take care of yourself.

  6. by   harleyridingirl
    I think all nurses should have to be patients every few years to remind them what people go through and make them a little more considerate. I know there are great nurses out there but there are a few that could use a little reminding......
  7. by   kkinla
    I was 16 when I had my tonsils out. I made a huge mistake of being stubborn and drank as little as possible because it hurt so much. My doctor (family friend) scolded me for not listening to her, as I was supposed to keep my throat as moist as possible, and thus would have experienced less pain.

    So, drink lots of fluids, definitely don't get behind on taking your pain meds, and soon enough it will all be over. And now you'll have your experiences as a patient to help you provide even better care for your patients!
  8. by   kty1
    Quote from Sonjailana
    So I'm sitting here waiting at 4am for my Lortab elixir to kick in and I thought I'd share my experience as a patient today--

    First, I'm an RN in Med/Surg/Onc/Tele with 2 years experience. I take care of post ops everyday, but I was still very scared going to OR as I've never had anything done myself. I went and signed in, and the clerk was helpful as I was in the wrong section of our big hospital. My mom and I were walked down to the right room, and I was all checked in. Then they brought me back alone, weighed me, and did a pregnancy test, asked me the most embarrassing questions alone, got me in a gown, and THEN brought my mom back. I was impressed at the considerate behavior.

    After the usual pre-op screens, pepcid, decadron, and versed IV, I wasbrought back to the OR. The staff was jovial, teasing me about being skinny, and the next thing I knew I was under. The next thing I remember was being in PACU. I couldn't talk at all. Mind you, this was a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. I was in excruciating pain and I started bawling. I felt like I was still on fire from the cauterizing machine. The RN says to me "WHY ARE YOU CRYING???" Then, my anesthesiologist apparently heard my commotion and backed me up and asked the nurse what was going on.

    So, in my post op brilliancy I remembered that I could make non verbal signs of pain. I squeezed my eyes shut, clenched my fists, curled my toes, and furrowed my brows. Then I started heaving and the RN says "SONJAILANA, SIT DOWN." OMG!! Should I lay down to vomit so it can go in my lungs?? Finally she gave me 1.5 mg of dilaudid and 12.5mg of phenergan. My pressure was 140/80 and I usually run 110/60. I was disappointed with my RN because I always expected a PACU RN to be assessing my pain level and actually ask me what it is, instead of assume that for a small procedure it was nothing. I had to ask for an ice collar, ask for ice chips, and a tonsil tip (haha) suction for all my drool. I think I must have finally gotten the drugs, because my nurse was nowhere to be found, and I kept waking up to myself desatting into the mid 80's, with no nasal cannula to be found ( I would have put it back on if I could have). Whenever I get report from PACU nurses, they're right there with the patient, but I can only guess where my nurse went to do it.

    Next, I went to Short Stay. The nurse immediately asked if I was pain. Again, the bawling started and I was looking for my mom. I kept trying to talk but I couldn't. She explained that I had local anesthesia, intubation, and general, and even at 24, still had adenoids that had to come out. She explained that the coordination of my throat muscles would be poor for several hours, and that's why I couldn't talk. Next time I opened my eyes, my mom was at my side and morphine was going in my IV. Next set of vitals, sherbet and reassurance. I was much more pleased and then she started me on po meds with a popsicle. Someone was there holding my arm when I needed to use the restroom and guiding me when I was so dizzy. Even better, I wasn't pushed out the door. My RN suggested I take a nap to see if it would help some of my nausea and fogginess wear off.

    I went home and felt pretty good and pushed the limit on full liquids. Around 10pm the decadron seemed to be wearing off my uvula is the size of a small finger. The pain is intense, but I'm waking every 4 hours to take my lortab elixir, drink some water, and change my ice bag and humidifier. All things considered I'm happy with my experience at my own hospital..and I'll remember that pain is what the patient says it is! :heartbeat


    I understand all too well what it feels like to be the pt. I sometimes think that all nurses should have to go through a hospital stay just to see the other side of things. I'm so glad that you had a happy ending. However, the nurse that took care of you in PACU should have been made to realize what she did and did not do. It's a double edge sword as you work at that hospital, but what about the many pt's who also had her as a nurse? I think especially of the elderly that cannot always speak up for themselves. I hope you were able to somehow set her straight as to the treatment (and lack of) she gave you. Even on a bad day I can say that I have NEVER shown any pt. such unprofessionalism or lack of care. Shame on her!!!

    As you said, "pain is what the pt says", but you're more aware now of what it feels like to be ignored at a time when you most needed support and care!
    Last edit by kty1 on Jan 27, '10 : Reason: added more
  9. by   tinnnk
    As an RN being the patient can be quite frightening, especially in these times, 4 years ago I had a colectomy and was very nervous about being in the hospital. Nursing isn't what it used to be, and I can say I have had nurses come out and tell me they are only there for the money and that's sad. We had a patient come to us for a procedures the other day from the floor who had been on oxygen while on the floor came to us without his oxygen and had a sat of 80%, isn't this the nurses responsibility, it's not transports problem....to me that would be a safety issue, and should be written up, but we are told not to write incident reports........hhhhhhhhmmmm, imagine that a director and supervisor who tell you NO. How will things ever be corrected if risk management doesn't know??? There are also a lot of pt's family members who are complaining about the lack of competence with the nurses....what is going on with this generation is it the teaching or lack of it? Sorry just needed to vent some and wondering if anyone else is seeing these kind of attitudes in their facilities.......
  10. by   christinaalomar
    Wow! couldnt imagine the pain. But its rediculous your nurese couldnt see you were in pain.
  11. by   kty1
    Quote from christinaalomar
    Wow! couldnt imagine the pain. But its rediculous your nurese couldnt see you were in pain.

    There is NO WAY that recovery nurse did not see her in pain - even a new graduate could see that. What that recovery nurse needs is a day in surgery and have the same thing happen to her. Sorry if I sound "cold" about this, but it takes only a "couple of neurons" rubbing together in that nurse's brain to realize "patient just out of surgery - hmmmmm, maybe she is in pain"!! Even animals have a keen sense when their own are in pain. Give me a break. I also feel (no matter the unwritten rule) the recovery nurse should have been reported. I believe all nurses should always stick together, but not in this case. Obviously, this is NOT the first time this recovery nurse has done this thus, why she needs to be reported. I've been in for surgery and I certainly know what pain is and the signs of pain. What happens to the next patient who comes across her path and cannot speak for themselves????????????
  12. by   danamobile
    I agree with some of the posters. I think it would be best if some nurses had surgery very few years as a reminder LOL. I'm going to be getting jaw surgery in the next year and it scares me to think of my own personal nursing standards and some of the nursing care I know is around... With my mouth wired shut and airway swollen I want to know that I have proper oxygenation, pain control, anxiety control and If I'm crying and cannot communicate well, they better damn well look into it! I've had my tonsils out and know how the feels like. Drinking/eating sucks. I lost 20 lbs in grade five because of that ordeal. I now suffer from chronic pain in my jaw and face and know the misconceptions of pain quite well-- especially from the chronic side---but the acute pain? Come on nursey, its quite easy to understand. That frustrates me. I would certainly bring it up, as you are in a position of knowledge and power, AND perspective. You cannot beat that. Its one thing to have your expectations high because you are a nurse, and because of being an awesome nurse yourself, you want the best possible care, but MINIMAL care needs to be maintained too. Pain management is right there with ABC assessments--and looks like she had a problem with that too!! UNSAFE patient care needs to be corrected!

    Hope your pain lessens! Its best to sleep it off if you can and drink as much as you can while awake!! Cold/hot compresses exchanged (hot around neck/shoulders) and cold to face, I love that. Hot baths, humidity, lubricate that nose with gel! and keep that mouth clean... you'll do great!
  13. by   FlyOR
    T&A surgery is one of the most dangerous of surgeries. This is poorly understood by most of the world, but as an OR nurse who had an emergent T&A return to the OR and heard declining SATS and hemoglobin in a person ill equipped to sustain it, trust me. I don't know the stats, but people die of T&A surgery every year and one of the reasons is bleeding out and not realizing it because it's going down your throat. Post op teaching needs to be good and post op care needs to be better. It is also one of the most painful surgeries to be had.

    PACU nursing used to be the domain of ICU trained nurses, apparently that is not always the case anymore. Concentrate on getting well, and then consider very strongly writing something to the PACU nurse manager. Explain that you are an RN, the care that you received and the reason you're sending the information: for the person after you. If it makes he/she pay more attention to that RN and how she gives care, you will have done a good deed.

    Addressing pain management is one of the fundamentals of nursing. Patients in pain have reactive BP, HR, declining sats and are more fragile. There just isn't an excuse here.
  14. by   gentlenurse4762
    [font=book antiqua]first of all i hope and pray that you start to feel better soon and i am also sorry that your nurse wasn't doing her job as well as she should have been. one of the reasons i became a nurse was because i had spent so much time being a patient ( i've had fibromyalgia syndrome for over 27 years and know pain all to well). i wanted to be a great nurse who is an even better advocate for her patients. no matter how long you've been a nurse you should be willing to hear constructive critcism and i think we should all step back to ask ourselves if we are taking care of our patients the same way we would want ourselves & family members treated if they were the patients.

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