I'm an RN Who Couldn't Breathe.

by norma_njm norma_njm (New) New

I'm a general RN of 43 years, including 11 years of telephone triage. I understand hypochondriasis and anxiety.

I've always been attune to my body's language. Having had rheumatic fever when I was 8 y.o., I self diagnosed it correctly to my family Dr. 30 years later. Years later I went to the ER with mild difficulty breathing and the. triage nurse told me I wasn't having trouble breathing. I was admitted with pneumonia. That time I can excuse because I wasn't struggling acutely.

Currently I have the flu. I'm faithfully using my inhaler. This brought memories today of 2 specific times when I was struggling with breathing and I truly didn't understand the reactions of the nursing staff. 1) After returning to my post-op room subsequent to general anesthesia, I shortly developed struggled breathing. 2 nurses simply stood and watched without doing anything helpful until finally the spasms went away. They told me I was being anxious, but did nothing to alleviate it. Meanwhile I was miserable and scared.

2) Using a different brand emergency inhaler for my current flu reminded me of a similar situation a year ago. After taking a recommended dose, suddenly it felt as if my lungs were collapsing. When it subsided and then returned, my husband took me to the emergency room. They triaged me immediately, but when it subsided again, for the next hour they took a watch and see attitude. I think I got a big dose of the carrier instead of the medicine. They told me I was being anxious. You bet I was anxious which didn't help my breathing. Ultimately I was given a diagnosis of dyspnea nos, given some lorazepam, and sent home to f/u with my dr.

No O2 with the 1st scenario, I think there was some O2 with the 2nd scenario. I remember the sensations clearly, I barely remember O2.

I know you weren't there and can't give me a definitive answer to these scenarios. But am I missing something? At the very least empathy? Just because you're anxious doesn't mean you're not dyspneic.

I suppose this can be considered a pity party, but I'd like to resolve this if there's any resolution to put it behind me. Thanks for reading and any possible responses.



Specializes in retired LTC. 7,735 Posts

Per TOS, we can't offer any med advice. But I do understand the situation.

You didn't use the 'RN card' did you? I've found that that action sometimes tends to minimize other practitioners' opinion of what's wrong. And then, I wonder if you presented to your ERs as TOO CALM or too overly distressed.

It's sad that sometimes 'nurses as patients' tend to receive the short end of the empathetic measuring stick. Like we intimidate staff but then that we're also expected to be able to handle everything & 'just suck it up'. Just let them know when something BIG happens!

Duh no! If I could have handled it, I wouldn't be here (or phoning my PMP's office)! I know I wasn't perfect, so I don't expect perfection from others. So I do try to be as unobtrusive as poss. But don't dust me under the rug.

I do advocate for myself as a nurse much as I would for any of my pts. My guess is that your anxiety became the primary symptom that was seen, rather than the respiratory/SOB. And your providers just missed the mark when treating you.

Don't know if I've helped any, but I do feel your pain. Been there, done that too.

Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 34 years experience. 1 Article; 39,477 Posts

As mentioned we cannot offer medical advice as per the Terms of Service of the site. Your questions should be addressed by your PCP or pharmacist

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