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Night Nurse II: I Tawt I Taw A Puddy-Tat!

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Just when you think you've seen it all...well, that's when you realize how much there is out there that you HAVEN'T seen.

Night Nurse II: I Tawt I Taw A Puddy-Tat!

Being the veteran of several years on Med/Surg, I figured that I'd encountered just about every type of patient and family. There was the 99-year-old who'd never been in a hospital in her life, and her sixteen relatives who occupied the room throughout her entire stay. The 22-year-old frequent flyer who came in at least monthly with blood sugars in the 1200s and would literally knock nurses over on her way out to the smoking area, still attached to an insulin drip, after regaining consciousness. The super-morbidly obese gentleman who could lose as much as a hundred pounds during a given admission. And of course, there were the 'helicopter' families, the 80-pound LOLs who could slither out of four-points and bean you with a telemetry unit before you knew what had happened, and the garden-variety folks who make up the heart and soul of a sleepy river town.

And then, there was this family.

The patient, a mother in her late 30s, had been admitted for an acute asthma exacerbation which undoubtedly had a lot to do with the fact that she lived on a grass-seed farm and also owned a number of house pets. When I took a report on this woman, my first thought was "Good gravy, why would an asthmatic live like that?" and I resolved to discuss this with her as soon as I was done with my assessment.

But when I reached the patient's room, one look at her sunken eyes and tripod position in the bed told me that this was not the time to deliver a lecture. She looked like she hadn't slept in days; the husband sat by her bed, looking nervous and guilty as if he expected me to blame him for her condition, while a girl of about ten fiddled with something in the small closet where patients' clothes and personal items could be stored during their stay.

I introduced myself and began to listen to the woman's lungs, which were every bit as tight and wheezy as I'd expected. I offered her some hot tea---" the better to dilate your airways, my dear"---and prepared to give her a nebulizer treatment. As I did this, I heard some odd squeaky sounds, which I assumed were some audible wheezes; just then, the daughter quickly slammed the closet door and stood in front of it. The husband blushed bright red to his hairline, and even the patient herself looked shamefaced.

"Is everything all right?" I asked, wondering what on earth was going on. All three affirmed that it was, and I went on with my work. The squeaking resumed, muffled but somewhat louder, and I realized it wasn't wheezing I was hearing just at the moment that the closet door came open. To my astonishment, out popped a tiny kitten, mewing in protest at being shut up in that dark, cramped space. He was almost immediately joined by several siblings, all of whom proceeded to streak around the room and scramble up everything they could sink their claws into........including my back!

I yelped as I tried to remove the striped kitten, who was stuck like a burr just out of reach, prompting the patient's husband to come to my assistance. I pushed the call button and hollered for someone to come help me corral the cats, who by now were trying to escape the confines of the room. Two of my co-workers came in, allowing one sneaky feline to bolt; fortunately, another nurse happened to be coming down the hall and intercepted the kitty before he could make it past the next room. Soon, we had all five of the little fugitives back in the pet carrier, which had, of course, been snuck in and stashed in the closet by the patient's family.

The excitement over, I turned to give them a stern lecture on sneaking animals into an asthmatic's hospital room, but then the absurdity of the situation struck me and, as usual, I began to laugh. So did the patient and her family, who were undoubtedly relieved that I wasn't angry (although I did tell Hubs to get those cats out of there and NOT to bring them back or I would have to report the incident). She went on to recover quickly, her farm-girl constitution serving her well in this instance; but it seemed that after that night, a number of patients who occupied that room complained of allergic symptoms: "It's like there was a CAT in this room," they'd sniff, "but of course you don't allow pets in the hospital."

Little did they know............

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I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

219 Likes, 8 Followers, 141 Articles, 246,785 Visitors, and 9,499 Posts.

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I love this article. It sounds like something I would try to pull.

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That was a very cute story. The fam must have been horrified while the search mission was going on. All's well that ends well. Thanks for the story!!:nurse:

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Years ago,when the nursing home allowed pets we had about five cats in different parts of the building.You never knew ,when you went into a room or cupboard ,when they were going to jump out at you!Made life exciting on night shift!:chuckle:chuckle

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Just when you think you've seen it all............well, that's when you realize how much there is out there that you HAVEN'T seen.

How cute Marla!!! ha ha ha!

This is the second time in as many days that I've read the term "helicopter families" - can you explain what this means?

Thank you!

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Years ago when I had to go to the rehab floor after major surgery, my husband got permission to bring in my 4 month old puppy for a visit. That made my day!

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ZBB - helicopter families are ones that hover.

Oh that makes perfect sense! ha ha I like it :D yep there are a few of those ;)

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