Thursday, November 8, 2007

Should have known better

I got a call from one of my brothers on Tuesday. He said he thought he had been bit by a spider. I went to his house & checked it out - there had been some type of bite & for some reason - he squeezed it. After he did that, a lot of pain started. So when I saw it - I could see the redness. It was on his thigh about mid-way between the hip and knee. His big toe was also in a lot of pain, but that ended up to be him stubbing it & as a result had an ingrown toenail that was infected.

So I look up spider bite treatment online & it says to put cold compresses on it and for some reason - take Tylenol but not Advil or aspirin. So I run to the store & get him Tylenol as well as Benadryl, Lanacaine & Neosporin. I went to work Tuesday night & called him to see how he was doing. He said it still hurt and that he was sweating. I wasn't sure what to think, but I gave him my number at work and told him if it got worse, call me. I never heard from him so I called in around 7 am when I was getting off of work. He sounded awful and was still sweating and in pain. So I told him I'd take him to the emergency room.

The big decision was - do I take him to my hospital or to another one nearby. I wasn't crazy about my hospital because I don't think it's the best one around when it comes to ER treatment and I don't like to bring family into where I work. However, they do have this new thing where they promise you will see the ER doctor within an hour of arriving to the hospital. I was kinda curious to see if that would actually happen. Plus I checked the computer to see if there were a lot of people in the ER when I left and it was pretty much empty. So I picked up my brother & told him what all good nurses say - - "Don't tell them I'm a nurse & definitely don't tell them I work there!!!" I work nights so I knew the day staff wouldn't know me and I was just curious to observe the ER from a family member perspective rather than as a nurse. He agrees to comply with my demands. :)

We got there around 8 am & surprisingly enough, I think we were in to see the doctor at about 8:25. Not bad. Luckily we got the better of the two doctors on that day. I had recognized his name, but never met him before. The other ER doctor I recognized because I hear negative things about him from patients as well as other staff. The doctor takes a quick look at my brother's leg and toe and says "We have to open that up & drain it." Eeekk! I didn't think it was that bad, although it was looking more swollen than red at this point. I see the color drain from my brother's face as the doctor talks about numbing up the areas by sticking a needle into the areas that are tender & infected. He then proceeds to tell us how he's going to cut open my brother's thigh and attempt to wash out the infection. I'm thinking COOL!!! I don't think my brother was quite as enthused as I was. He promises he'll medicate my brother before this happens.

In walks the nurse with two Percocet pills. I think "That's it?" Pills? That should take about 30 to 60 minutes to kick in - just how long are we going to be here? About 15 min later the doctor comes back & starts the numbing procedure. My poor brother - he was in a lot of pain & I can't say I blame him. He did well though. I'm sure I wasn't much help as I kept telling him to breathe as he'd clench his jaw in pain.

The doctor waited about another 15 minutes for the medicine to take effect - only it wasn't enough medicine. He had to numb it up some more & that caused my brother some more pain. After that was done, the doctor got out the scapel to cut open his thigh. At this point, I ask "You don't mind if I watch, do you?" I don't think he expected that, but I stood up & moved closer to watch this mini-surgery. Blood gushed out - so cool - lol. The doctor was expecting pus to drain out, but there really wasn't much. He pointed out these little chunks in the blood & said that was part of the infection that was taking place in his thigh. Interesting! He continued to flush it out and then put some packing strips into the incision. He said they would pull that out in two days. Next he went to workon my brother's toe. There wasn't much to that...just cutting part of the nail out. Big deal!

I was expecting my brother to pass out at any moment, but he did well. The nurse came in to cover the wounds and went over the discharge orders. She recognized me - so my cover was blown. She talked about coming back in 2 days to remove the packing strip. I said "Can't I pull it out at home?" She said they would prefer to have him come in so they can be sure the infection is getting better.

My brother had asked the doctor what would have happened if he put off coming in. I was surprised by the answer. He said that it was obvious it was infected and the fact that my brother was shivering and sweating tells him that the infection was starting to spread systemically and that if left untreated would lead to sepsis & possible death. Dang - I should have known better. I thought it was just a minor reaction to a bug bite. Kind of like when you are stung by a bee - it gets red, swollen and tender - but after 24-48 hrs, it's better. Live & learn!

I only worked Mon & Tues night this week. It's hard to get back into being at work when I was off for 5 days. I'm officially off until next Thursday night, but I may pick up some shifts before then - I'll see how I feel later in the week.

I feel a little guilty this week - when I came in Monday night, I recognized a name on our patient board. I cringed when I saw it. I had just had her as a patient like 10 days ago. She's very demanding and needy as well as very critical about everything. The type that constantly puts you down no matter how much you try to help. For some reason she wasn't like that with me, but I have seen her in the past be very nasty to other nurses. I like to think I have some type of calmness that is contagious, but I think with her - she was simply exhausted that night. Anyways - I saw her name & said a silent thank you to God for not seeing my name assigned to her.

I talked to the nurse that did have her & she told me the patient had a stroke and was bleeding in the brain. They couldn't stop it and gave her 30 days to live. I felt sad - partly because of the negative thoughts I had just a few minutes earlier when I saw her name and partly because of her husband. Their kids no longer speak to either of them - I imagine it was because of how critical she can be. Even with her practically on her deathbed, the kids wanted nothing to do with either of them. I felt sad that this man would be all alone having to deal with the fact that he is losing his wife and for him having to see her the way she is right now. It breaks my heart.

I went out with my best friend tonight. We saw the movie "Things we lost in the Fire." It was ok. What was fun about it is that we were the only 2 in the theater - so we could talk out loud thru the movie. It was amusing. I love hanging out with Maria. We've known each other since we were about 13 yrs old & have always been there for one another. Thanks Maria!


tendernoggle said...

Whew! I was so happy to read that yu got to go out with your friend after all you have been through...You deserved a break! How's your brothere doing??? Hope he is on his way to feeling better...That poor man...having to face his wife's death all by himself...pitiful...I will say a little prayer for him...You know...the main thing that helped me when I lost Danny....was just a simple hug....wish I were there to give that poor man one...
You take care now, and don't work too hard...
love ya,

am4039 said...

wow, I'm so happy that your brother is ok now. How scary and happy that he didn't pass out. LOL. Awww that's to bad about that lady who had the stroke and has 30 days to live. Her poor husband. You and Maria sounds like you had a good time.

molly146012 said...

wow! glad your brother is ok. :)  sounds like you've been busy as usual!
glad you enjoyed the movie. that's sad about the dying woman.....
hey,how's the pup? Molly