Hedonism ‘ s end

I said I would squander my days off and boy have I. After five days of being bad and eating bad I now have but seventeen hours to get my crap together and show up back at the hospital at the obscene hour of eight o'clock.

A number of developments have come into play today. First of all, Jeff is not as well as I made him out to be. He got up at ten thirty, threw back a shot of cough syrup at some point and then fell onto the couch. I asked him if he wanted any coffee (not that I had any clue how to make coffee, but it's the thought that counts), and he mumbled something incoherent and spent the next three hours in this position:

He's back up now and analyzing his data at his desk, in good cheer despite the untimely demise of his desk chair at approximately eleven thirty Pacific time last night. It held Jeff's sweet ass up for two years, bless it. (I have promised Jeff a decent picture of him on this blog later this week, perhaps in a new chair.)

The other development is that my dad is having open heart surgery tomorrow morning, to replace his mitral valve. Let me tell you this story, because there is a lesson here.

I knew my dad was in the hospital in Tacoma for the last week or so on a telemetry monitoring unit. I've been talking to him most every day, so I knew he was basically okay. Telemetry monitoring units are units where they can monitor people's heart rate and rhythm all the time. I work on one, so I know a lot about how they generally run. On Friday we knew for sure that my dad was going to have heart surgery of some kind, because the extraordinarily nice nurses talked to me on the phone and all but read word for word what the cardiologist wrote in my dad's chart. (It's hard to get nurses to do this nowadays because of HIPAA, a deeply stupid, badly written federal law having to do with patient privacy.) Now, I'm not a cardiac nurse yet (seventeen hours to go!), but I have worked on a cardiac floor for four years and I know that sometimes, not often, they can do a mitral valve repair surgery without it being open heart surgery. So I asked the nurse on duty each day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

"Is this going to be a closed heart mitral surgery, or an open heart surgery?"

And each day I got a slightly different answer. Occasionally the nurse would give me other details here and there that didn't make much sense or conflicted with everything we'd heard, and I would feed them to my sister Rose, who really is a cardiac nurse with many years of experience, and we would puzzle over them together. Then, yesterday, a breakthrough. The nurse on duty said, "You know, I'm not really sure."

Me: "You're not sure?"

Her: "Yeah, I'm sorry. You're sort of probing the edge of my knowledge here, because I'm an oncology nurse."

Me: "What??"

Her: "Yeah, this isn't a cardiac unit. When your dad was admitted they really needed him to be monitored on telemetry, and since all the cardiac units were full they sent him here to the cancer unit, since we have a few beds with telemetry monitoring capability."

Oh my god. This explains many things. 1) Those nurses were way too nice to be cardiac nurses. 2) None of them seemed to know anything about cardiology. 3)They kept giving him coffee, which you really aren't supposed to do with cardiac patients. And it never occurred to me to ask if this was a cardiac telemetry floor. I just assumed, even though I know there are other floors out there with telemetry. The lesson here is this: medical and nursing people know about their specialty, but are just making educated guesses about anything else.

So, he's having it tomorrow and my sister Rose is going up there tonight. I have verbally commented many a time in the last two days that I have been sitting on my ass for the last month with nothing going on that I couldn't miss but as soon as I can't leave town, boom, open heart surgery on the papa. Such is life….


Dad's surgery was re-scheduled for Thursday. He sounds tired tonight but upbeat. I still feel guilty, but if I missed the initial orientation for new nurses this week, the hospital wouldn't let me work until March, and my dad seems understanding about that. So, thankfully, my siblings are there for him until next week when I can come up.

1 thought on “Hedonism ‘ s end”

  1. Don’t worry about not being here. Rose is here with her cardiac experience and knowledge plus her ability to calm Mom and talk sense. I metioned that Dad was in the cancer ward rather than the cardiac unit, but figured it was due to bed availability. Didn’t even think that the nurses there might know little about cardiac needs. Thanks for the blog…in the future, I will always question such things as patient placement.


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