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.

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