Monday, January 25, 2016

You Know You’re Tired When…

My shoe is on the left. My daughter's
is on the right.
In case you haven’t read the last month’s blog posts, I’ve been taking care of my daughter who had cardiothoracic surgery. And I’m tired. I didn’t realize how tired until yesterday.

As we were walking to the car, my daughter said: You’re wearing my shoes.

Me (thinking she was talking about the new shoes she bought me for Christmas): Yep.

Daughter: I thought you were going to wear your new shoes

Me (wondering at the redundancy of her thoughts and chalking it up to heavy painkillers): Yep.

Daughter (confused): But you’re wearing my shoes.

Me (looking at my feet): These are my shoes.

Daughter: Where did you get those shoes?

Me: Out of your closet.

Daughter: So those are my shoes.

Me: No. They’re mine. I must have put them in your closet.

Daughter: But they’re my shoes.

Me (looking at the shoes again): I don’t know what—(gearing starting to turn). Oh, wait, these are your shoes.

Daughter: Yeah.

Me: Sorry.

Daughter: No problem. But don’t they feel big? (She wears a half-size larger.)

Me: They feel pleasantly roomy. My toes can wiggle.

Daughter: Ah.

Me: I think I need a nap.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lessons from the Cardiothoracic-Surgery-Patient's Mom

 Because I’m now a seasoned Cardiothoracic-Surgery-Patient’s-Mom (yes, this is another medical post—they say write what you know), here is another post on the funny side of being a CSPM.

Chocolates photo courtesy of
Wikimedia Commons
 1. CT surgery patients are hot. I have no idea why, but they are. Thankfully, I knew this before my kids’ surgeries and was able to dress appropriately. But it has led to discussions like this:

Patient: This house is ridiculously hot!

Me (imagine this spoken with a long sardonic drawl.): Really?

Patient: Yep.

Me: Perhaps it has escaped your notice that while you are wearing a tank top and shorts and have a fan blowing on you, I’m am wearing an undershirt, long sleeves, a sweater, jeans, wool socks, slippers, and a coat—and not just any coat, my middle of winter in New England coat, a coat that rated to -20 degrees.

Patient: So…you’re saying it’s just me?

Me: I think so.

2. The “recliners” (and I use the word “recliner” very loosely) that they have in patients’ hospital room for family members are not built for small people. I get that they have to be built to accommodate all body types. But a major design flaw is that they do not latch in the recline position. So if you are a smaller person, your upper body does not have enough weight to maintain the recline position. Even if you are strong enough to force it to recline and quick enough to use your body as a wedge, the ill-designed chair will return to its full and upright position during the middle of the night. (Please note: it is possible to curl up and sleep sideways in these chairs. However, this does mean that you will waken cuddled up with your shoes come morning.)

3. You are your patient’s advocate.

Me (to new nurse): Um, I realize that you have to put in yet another IV line because my offspring is blowing through IV sites at a rate of one every 24 hours, but do you see all the massive, deep bruising all over the arms and hands?

Nurse: Yeah, that looks horrible. In fact, I’m not even sure where I could insert another IV needle.

Me: That is because my offspring’s veins are very narrow. And all the nurses and doctors thus far have had to do multiple sticks to get the needle in. Even the really tiny needles.

Nurse (inspecting veins): You know, I can hardly even see the veins, they dive deep into the tissue. I don’t think I want to put this in. I’m going to put in a call to the IV specialty team.

Me: Thanks!

4. Besides being your patient’s advocate, you are also their chocolate moocher.

Me: So, uh, don’t you think it’s time for tea and…chocolate? You have that really big box.

Patient: Not really. My stomach’s not settled.

Me: Oh….

Patient: But you can have some!

Me: Thanks, sweetie. (opening the lid) Now to decide between caramel-filled dark chocolate or hazelnut crème. Yep, caring for the sick is quite the burden. ;)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

5 Things about Post-Hospital Recovery

In the last six months, I’ve cared for two of my kids who’ve had cardiothoracic surgery. Here’s what I’ve learned about post-hospital recovery.
1. Keep a medication list and write down what you gave, when you gave it, and how long until the next dose. (And set an alarm on your phone alerting you to the next dose. Yes, this may mean up to ten alarms set on your phone—some programmer ought to make alarms with titles, i.e., 2am—hydrocodone, 4am—diazepam, etc.)

File:Handmade sleepmasks eyemasks Paris, France.jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Me: Uh, so did I give you this medicine an hour ago?
Recovering patient: No.
Me: Are you sure? I vaguely remember being up at 2am.
Patient: I took some pills then. I think they were white.
Me (squinting): They’re all white. Do you remember how many pills you took?
Patient: No. What happens either way?
Me: Excruciating pain. Or drugged stupor.
Patient: I vote for drugged stupor.

2.  Lidocaine patches ought to be manufactured in Ace bandage-type rolls.

Me: How do you feel?
Patient: It hurts here, here, here and here. Basically, everything outside of the borders of the lidocaine patches hurts.

3. Your patient feels mildly guilty because of all the care you’re providing and the sleep you’re missing, so now’s the time to get them to watch your favorite movies/mini-series.

Me: Look, I bought Poldark. Let’s watch it.
Patient: Haven’t you seen this before?
Me: Yes, but you haven’t!
(I strongly urge watching early in the recovery process. Oh, sweetie, you feel asleep in the middle of the episode, don’t you want to watch it again?)

4. Once you exhaust your mind’s ability to write and read (who knew such exhaustion existed?), there are computer games. I am now queen of Nova, having survived all assassination attempts; I am currently a Gray Warden; I’m an interstellar captain, probing Geth attacks; and I’m a cold case investigator. (My kids, having guided my path through KOTR over the past year, now believe I have the makings of a full-fledged gamer—hence all the games they gave me for Christmas. And I must say, the plotting, backstory, and world-building in many of these games is phenomenal.)

5. Sleep Masks. I’d never worn one before. But they are awesome. Especially when ICU nurses come every hour for vitals. And perfect when you’re trying to catch up on sleep at home during the middle of the day. I have one with zebra stripes. Love it!