October 27, 2007

My Sinuses, Nurses, and Pain

Filed under: Life — Bob Gifford @ 6:51 pm

Thursday morning I had outpatient surgery done on my sinuses. My doctor removed a potentially cancerous polyp, and while he was at it he enlarged some passageways to improve drainage and hopefully reduce the frequency of my sinus infections.

The nurses at the outpatient surgery center were all incredibly nice, kind and caring, with one exception. I woke up in recovery with really bad pain, about an 8 out of 10. I made sure to let the OR nurse know, and I heard her saying something about giving me another dose of morphine. She also was nice enough to unravel my iPod headphones and put them in my ears. But she then told me to relax, that I was just making it hurt worse because I wasn’t relaxing. She told me that I was trying to wake up and she wanted me to try to go back to sleep so it wouldn’t hurt. Which of course was exactly backwards. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t go back to sleep because of the pain. She acted as though she knew what I was feeling better than I did, discounted what I was saying about pain, and even blamed me for my own pain. She pissed me off.

They ended up giving me something else for the pain, after which I blissfully fell asleep. Funny how easy it was to relax once the pain was under control.

The OR nurse handed my care off to a recovery nurse, who regularly checked on me. I remember at one point being somewhat apologetic about complaining about the pain, and she rubbed my shoulder and told me “don’t worry, I don’t think you’re being a wimp or anything”. I felt like this nurse and I were on the same team, working together, trying to keep me comfortable, unlike the OR nurse whom I felt was an adversary.

I could never be a nurse. It takes a special gift to be able to really care for others when they’re at their worst. But the OR nurse was a classic example of a pitfall of nursing — not listening to what the patient is saying, thinking the patient would be fine if they would just get with the program, seeing the patient as the problem.

So the polyp wasn’t cancerous. My pain meds are my new best friend, but I’m recovering nicely. A couple more days and I’ll be back to normal.

October 24, 2007

San Diego Fires

Filed under: Life — Bob Gifford @ 6:41 pm

I suppose I should say something about all the fires in Southern California, given how much of my attention it’s been occupying lately. I spent the three weeks before the fires at a client down in Rancho Bernardo. I wasn’t scheduled to be there this week, but needed to talk to the Novell team still down there first thing Monday morning. I heard about the fires, but didn’t realize they had hit RB until I called a member of the team on his cell and caught him at the San Diego airport on his way out. RB evacuated, project scrubbed for the week, our whole team going home.

My younger brother and his wife live in RB — I called them immediately, and learned they too had evacuated and were staying at a friend’s in Poway. (Yes, parts of Poway were later evacuated, but luckily not my brother’s friend.)

I was born and raised in San Diego, and I know the neighborhood where all the houses in RB were lost. One apartment complex that was partially destroyed, La Terraza, is right across the street from the house my parents lived in for years after I left home for college. It’s all boringly middle-class, definitely not the upper-income-houses-nestled-in-the-hills stereotype of homes that get hit by fires. Nearby Ramona, hit the hardest, is even less affluent, largely rural kind of place that’s been there for years, so don’t listen to those people who want to blame the victims for living in areas at risk for fires.

If you want to find a political angle to this, consider that San Diego is a rabidly anti-tax county. Voters have rejected ballot measures in the past to create a county fire department and to spend more on fire protection. Perhaps that attitude will change.

So, my brother’s place is fine, and so are my client’s offices. Life will start to return to normal next week. But hopefully San Diegans won’t forget too quickly.

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