Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Menthols On Belay

Let's say his name is "Trevor." Nice distinguished name, that. Like a character on that television show Frasier or something.

He was in his fifties and only the Great Buddha of Aging Homeless Alcoholics knows how he got to be even that age without succumbing to personal disaster or disease. They say he basically lived on the streets because he either had no family or had no family that would admit to knowing him anymore.

He had fallen and broken a hip. Probably due to inebriation, but as he had an episode of rapid atrial fibrillation while with us, treated by a cardizem drip, I suppose it's possible he fell during a syncopal episode brought on by such an arrythmia. Such a story sure worked out to benefit Joe Scarborough after the death in his office of his aide Lori Klausutis a while back. So why not a drunk who fell down using this defense also? See? I am such a patient advocate.

Then again maybe the sun got in his eyes. Maybe he choked on a pretzel.

I liked Trevor. He did his incentive spirometry all by himself. Usually us nurses have to brandish whips to persuade patients to do that. He was polite and behaved decently most of the time.

Usually. Good thing I have my nurse-spider-sense, otherwise known as rank cynicism, to assist in those times when "usually" does not apply.

Something told me (see above) to walk by his room before going upstairs to return the patient-controlled-anelgesia key I borrowed from another unit. I had promised to "bring it right back." So they weren't expecting me for another few hours anyways. Hospital time.

Trevor had an abductor pillow strapped between his legs and sequential compression devices strapped on, too. Plus had had an IV line running and an oxygen nasal cannula.

All those things are belaying devices that are commonly used to provide safety for bedridden hospital patients.

Anyways, Trevor had to go to the bathroom and decided that the nurse call light button that was lying annoyingly on his belly wasn't necessary, as he could easily just climb over the bedrails and drag all the belaying equipment with him without the help of nursing staff.

I caught him just in time. Pure luck. Help arrived and we got everything undone and used a wheeled walker to get him into the water-closet. He was tired after that and dozed off when we settled him back into bed.

Later he wanted to do the same thing only to go out to smoke a cigarette. That was during a blood transfusion. He was down a couple pints after the hip replacement surgery. I didn't let him go out to smoke, naturally, and he said he wanted a different nurse and told me I was "too strict."

As if I expected him to listen to reason, I politely explained to Trevor that as he had just had his hip fracture repaired, and was getting a blood transfusion, as well as a run of intravenous antibiotics, and supplemental oxygen therapy for his wheezy lungs, (one of which had just been drained of fluid during a CAT-scan guided thoracentesis, incidentally,) and along with the mobility limitations that occur subsequent to hip damage and surgical repair, (also one must note that because he was uninsured all this was paid for by your insurance premiums and tax dollars,) that going outside to smoke was just mathematically impossible.

He laughed. I had meant for him to do so.

We served up his meal, and later I saw him using his incentive spirometry device again.

These should come tobacco-flavored. Menthol, too. Then maybe somebody besides Trevor would use them voluntarily.

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