Just another night

We always joke that when patients don’t sleep at night… it must be a full moon.

I have got to get out of this place. 

It is cold. It is not home. And where is my husband? 

I swing my legs to the side of the bed to try to leave, right next to the side rail. But what is that ringing sound? 

“Stay in the bed,” a woman says. Who is she? Why is she sitting there, watching me? 

Actually, my stomach hurts now. “Bathroom,” I tell her.

Then, a young nurse walks in. She tells me her name but I don’t remember it. They help me to the side of the bed, but once I begin to stand, my legs are weak so I sit back down.

“Don’t you need to use the restroom?” they ask me.

Can’t a woman go in privacy and peace? Now only if my legs would work and I could get there…

“Hold the rail and then move your feet after you are steady,” the nurse instructs me.

ARGH! Why are these women so annoying? Where is my husband? Why isn’t he here…

The hours pass.

I can’t breathe well. I want to tell someone, but I can’t find the right words. So I try to get comfortable. The nurse comes in and bothers me while I’m trying to sleep. She covers my nose and chin and these annoying fumes come out of a mask.  Arghh!

I keep wondering about my husband.  Did he water the plants? Maybe they’re dead. Maybe I should go buy some plants. I swing my feet out of the bed again.

“Where are you going?” the nurse walks in again.

“I am going to buy some plants,” I explain.

“Stay in the bed,” she commands. “It’s nighttime now. The store is closed. Maybe your husband can buy the plants in the morning,” she answered.

Well if the store is closed, fine. I swing my legs back in the bed. For now. 

~ ~ ~

Beep, beep. My pager goes off. “Your patient needs you,” the message reads.

I walk into the room to find my patient turned perpendicular in her bed, her feet ready to high jump the side rails.

“Stay in the bed,” the sitter warns.

“I’m Soapie, your nurse tonight. You need to use the bathroom?” I turn the bed alarm off.

She nods.

We get her to the side of the bed, but then she freezes. Like she has forgotten how to walk. She wobbles. If she were to fall, she would not recover from a hip fracture…

I am holding and trying to coach her. Finally, we successfully transfer her to a bedside commode.  We try to clean her up, change her bed linens, and transfer her back to bed.

But it’s not easy. She keeps slumping onto the bed even though we’re not done yet.  I spend about 20 minutes in there, then try to hurry on to my next patient.

Five minutes later, my pager alarms again. I rush in.

Her feet are on her pillow, and her head is at the foot of the bed. She has pulled the oxygen tubing out of her nose and keeps scratching at all the wires on her chest. She’s restless and won’t stay still.

It’s going to be a long night. 

Another 10 minutes passes by and the bed alarm sounds. She has swung her legs over the side rail again.  Her breathing looks a little fast, and her oxygen level looks a little low.

I maneuver her oxygen probe and watch the monitor. Maybe she is fidgeting because she cannot breathe well? Placing my stethoscope on her back, I listen to her lungs.

Her lungs are crackly. Like sandpaper on a smooth surface. Or poprocks on your tongue.

I leave the room and return shortly with some medication to open up her airways. Oxygen aerosolizes the solution, forming a wispy, curly white mist that arises from the mask.

She pulls the mask off.

I put it back on.

She pulls it back off.

ARGH. I squat, by her bed, and hold it in place. Breathe. Do not take the mask off. Feel better. 

After the medicine finishes, she starts pulling at all the wires again, and tries to get out of bed. “I am  going to buy plants,” she chimes.

She’s confused. I know she cannot understand me, but I have to try.  “Stay in the bed, it’s night time now. The store is closed…” If she tries to get out, she’ll definitely fall.

“O…..kay.” Defeated, she rests her head back on the bed. Sideways.

My feet ache. I still have my other patients to check on. In my mind, there are a thousand things to do. Need to page pharmacy. Where is my thiamine? And do I need to push it over 5 minutes?  I need to recheck my other patient’s blood pressure. Why did he look so shaky? Maybe he has a fever.  I need to get some IV tubing to hang my antibiotics. Is my other antibiotic finished yet? I need to look up his trough results. Did xray do a chest xray yet? And am I getting an admission? My legs push forward, driving me to move on.

Beep, beep. My pager goes off. “Your patient needs you,” the message reads…

Currently listening:


3 thoughts on “Just another night

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